Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Hydrogen Storage: A New Form Of Ice

The science fiction writer Isaac Asimov was also a trained chemist: PhD, Columbia, post doc, taught biochem at Boston Uni's Med school etc.

And he was fascinated by water. See after the jump.

From the American Association for the Advancement of Science', EurkAlert, December 22:

Chemists describe a new form of ice
Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech)

Scientists from the United States, China, and Russia have described the structure and properties of a novel hydrogen clathrate hydrate that forms at room temperature and relatively low pressure. Hydrogen hydrates are a potential solution for hydrogen storage and transportation, the most environmentally friendly fuel. The research was published in the journal Physical Review Letters.

Ice is a highly complex substance with multiple polymorphic modifications that keep growing in number as scientists make discoveries. The physical properties of ice vary greatly, too: for example, hydrogen bonds become symmetric at high pressures, making it impossible to distinguish a single water molecule, whereas low pressures cause proton disorder, placing water molecules in many possible spatial orientations within the crystal structure. The ice around us, including snowflakes, is always proton-disordered. Ice can incorporate xenon, chlorine, carbon dioxide, or methane molecules and form gas hydrates, which often have a different structure from pure ice. The vast bulk of Earth's natural gas exists in the form of gas hydrates.

In their new study, chemists from the United States, China, and Russia focused on hydrogen hydrates. Gas hydrates hold great interest both for theoretical research and practical applications, such as hydrogen storage. If stored in its natural form, hydrogen poses an explosion hazard, whereas density is way too low even in compressed hydrogen. That is why scientists are looking for cost-effective hydrogen storage solutions.

"This is not the first time we turn to hydrogen hydrates. In our previous research, we predicted a novel hydrogen hydrate with 2 hydrogen molecules per water molecule. Unfortunately, this exceptional hydrate can only exist at pressures above 380,000 atmospheres, which is easy to achieve in the lab but is hardly usable in practical applications. Our new paper describes hydrates that contain less hydrogen but can exist at much lower pressures," Skoltech professor Artem R. Oganov says....


One of Asimov's riffs on water, "Not as We Know it: The Chemistry of Life" he uses this little paragraph as a jumping-off point:

Water is an amazing substance with a whole set of unusual properties which are ideal for life-as-we-know-it. So well fitted for life is it, in fact, that some people have seen in the nature of water a sure sign of Divine providence. This, however, is a false argument, since life has evolved to fit the watery medium in which it developed. Life fits water, rather than the reverse.

In his book "The Left Hand Of the Electron" Dr. A gathers essays he had written over the years:

The Thalassogens
Subject: common liquids
First Published In: Dec-70, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction
  • 1972 The Left Hand of the Electron

Cold Water
Subject: freezing of water
First Published In: Feb-71, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction
  • 1972 The Left Hand of the Electron

Hot Water
Subject: boiling points
First Published In: Jan-71, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction
  • 1972 The Left Hand of the Electron


If interested, here's the book at I did a quick search and saw 114 hits for 'water'.