Fraunhofer develops ‘power paste’ that holds hydrogen

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM in Dresden have developed a paste for hydrogen storage. The institute is calling the mass “power paste”.

The researchers also claim their paste to offer high energy densities and be suitable for all vehicles from electric scooters to cars. According to Fraunhofer IFAM, the power paste, based on the solid magnesium hydride, should allow hydrogen to be chemically stored at room temperature and ambient pressure and rereleased as required. Since the power paste only decomposes above about 250 degrees Celsius, this works without any issues even if, for example, a scooter equipped with the paste is left in the summer sun for hours.

The storage paste’s starting material is only magnesium in powder form, which is a very common element. At 350 degrees Celsius and five to six times atmospheric pressure, this is reacted with hydrogen to form magnesium hydride. The power paste is then produced with ester and metal salt.

The power paste replaces the cylindrical pressure tank used in fuel cell cars and buses. Therefore, the institute says that this solution is suitable for hydrogen drives in smaller vehicles in cases where a pressure tank would be difficult to implement.

According to the Fraunhofer researchers, the refuelling process is straightforward. Instead of driving to a filling station, the scooter driver changes a cartridge and fills tap water into a water tank. In the vehicle itself, the paste is pressed out of the cartridge and mixed with a precisely measured amount of water, depending on the required power. This reaction produces gaseous hydrogen, which can then be converted into electricity for the electric motor.

Only half of the hydrogen comes from the power paste, the other half from the water in the reaction. “The energy storage density of the power paste is therefore enormous: it is much higher than that of a 700 bar pressure tank,” says Marcus Vogt, a scientist at Fraunhofer IFAM. “Compared to batteries, it even has ten times the energy storage density.” The Fraunhofer scientists even say that the driver should achieve a similar range with the power paste extrapolated to a car as they would with the same amount of petrol, if not greater.

This kind of material’s advantages are fairly clear: a cartridge of the paste could theoretically be swapped out anywhere along a journey. Similarly, the researchers say the paste could significantly extend the flight time of large drones, thereby allowing them to fly for several hours rather than just 20 minutes. For forestry workers, surveyors or high-voltage electricians, this would allow the inspection of forestry or power lines with a drone. In a domestic kind of application, campers might also use the paste in a fuel cell to generate electricity to power a coffeemaker or toaster.

The researchers see another major advantage of their development: the paste can flow and be pumped, so aside from cartridges and canisters, the paste can also be “filled up” at a filling station. The expensive infrastructure for gaseous hydrogen at high pressure or cryogenic liquid hydrogen at – 253 degrees Celsius would no longer be necessary.

In terms of the paste’s viability, which encompasses environmental and energy balance and production and scalability, Fraunhofer IFAM is currently building a production facility at the Fraunhofer Project Center for Energy Storage Systems ZESS. This should go into operation at the end of 2021 and then produce up to four tonnes of power paste per year.

Including reporting from Sebastian Schaal, Germany.


about „Fraunhofer develops ‘power paste’ that holds hydrogen“
03.02.2021 um 09:44
Please let me know regarding ongoing research on this paste and all commercial development. This could really be a game changer in the H2 storage and transportation.
Doug Starfield
03.02.2021 um 19:40
What is the cycle life of the Magnesium Hydride paste?
03.02.2021 um 15:03
Would be interesting to know if the paste is recyclable.
Douglas Porter
04.07.2021 um 13:40
I see no reason why not. The magnesium hydride becomes magnesium hydroxide - recovering that should be trivial. At worst, exhausted paste should be high-grade magnesium ore compared to what can be dug out of the ground.
Steve c
03.02.2021 um 23:50
Magnesium powder AND hydrogen ! No fire risk here then.
Sean Benson
11.03.2021 um 13:59
There is fire risk with practically all energy storage, fossil fuels, alkali metals in batteries and in hydrogen too. The batteries are the worst, Tesla fires burn for days and can start just from the moisture in the air
04.02.2021 um 01:31
A partnership with iceland should be made to produce the paste with geothermal. Iceland would be the new dominant player in the global energy market.
04.02.2021 um 06:18
What's the "waste" product?
Robert Wallum
15.03.2021 um 12:59
A very good question, we don't want to eliminate fossil fuel pollution with another chemical pollutant.
04.02.2021 um 06:37
Great idea!
Johannes de Lind van Wijngaarden
04.02.2021 um 11:00
When will this come on the market? It sounds great!
04.02.2021 um 18:39
What happens to the magnesium and salts? Lost into the atmosphere = bad, recycled = good.
Jan Sandbukt
06.02.2021 um 08:35
How is this paste acting in cold temperaturen? Today it show minus 20 Celcius deg.outside.
21.04.2021 um 10:47
The range of action of the powerpaste is from -30 to 250 degrees approximately. So it works perfectly under -20 degrees conditions.
06.02.2021 um 16:48
Similar to the current fossil fuels , this idea has a large added logistic issue regarding distribution and availability of the product . The energy used to deliver the product should be taken into account as well . Electricity , on the other hand , has a huge distribution network already in place reaching almost everywhere . Granted there are maintenance costs of the grid but I think it is most efficient at delivering energy .
Donald Stockport
12.02.2021 um 09:12
Isn't there a lot of power loss over distance with AC? They don't seem to have solved the AC to DC and back to AC problem yet, and they have been trying fire many years now.
15.02.2021 um 00:03
AC is used for most long distance transmission, but AC to DC to AC was solved long ago.
Dale Kemp
13.02.2021 um 04:00
You've got it backwards. Power is transmitted in AC form bbecause DC transmission results in large losses.
Edward Coulter
02.10.2021 um 04:32
You have got it backwards. DC is better at high voltage and long distance transmission than AC because it does not lose power by wasteful electromagnetic waves pouring off AC transmission wire. Problem with DC is is must be converted to AC to use transformers.
Pedro Lima
12.02.2021 um 08:51
Everywhere clearly out of most of Africa, a significant part of South America and some chunks of Asia... Not to mention deep Oceania and Antartida. Europe and North America and developed coastal spots elsewhere are far from everywhere but OK... What is mostly at stake here is the waste and subproducts. If biodegradable. Good. If not we'll be just choosing a different enemy for the environment.
07.02.2021 um 10:22
how much of the weight of this power paste for carrying the same amount of hydrogen like a 700ba 80 litercylinder?
scotto di vettimo augustin
11.02.2021 um 11:29
Je pense que cette solution a la mérite d'exister et je pense que la recherche sur l'hydrogene sans effets néfastes doit primer !!!!! Nous sommes à un carrefour ou toutes ces solutions doivent etre développées avec l'appui des nations car nous sommes tous concernés sur notre planète .
26.02.2021 um 20:51
Not enough technical details. What's the reaction, what's the specific energy? It sounds like a very important news.
Robert Wallum
15.03.2021 um 13:09
What field trials have been made with this fuel? What is the energy consumption per usable Kw output and what are the whole cycle pollutants involved from acquiring input materials through manufacturing, consumption and recycling/disposal? Get the right answers and it will be a global 'Savior'.
14.05.2021 um 09:31
It may work at -20c but water doesn't.
Fred Golden
06.06.2021 um 15:15
This seems like a very interesting paste. However it will react with rainwater on the ground, and turn into hydrogen that if on fire will burn with inviable flames. Pumping systems for grease are already around, just make sure a few drops of water do not get from the connection point into the storage tank, where it will turn into a cubic foot or more of hydrogen. Therefore you might want to pump the paste into the top of the storage tank, so if water goes in, you don't have a bubble of hydrogen at the bottom of the tank. And have a venting system for any hydrogen build up in the powerpaste storage tanks. I could see this powerpaste being sold in cartridges like calking material, and then use to refill a small tank in a electric scooter, or drones. Just don't let some water react with the powerpaste and turn it into a flaming fuel source that is out in the rain!
Edward Coulter
02.10.2021 um 04:44
The problem I see with this system is that there are two costly steps in the production of the hydrogen. First is the now well recognized high cost of making hydrogen in the first place, presumably by electrolysis. The second problem is the high cost of magnesium powder which must be made by a very intensive reduction process.
Bob McGarry
12.09.2022 um 00:53
This material is a major breakthrough. When will POWER PAST be available in NZ? Bob McGarry

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