The Energy Technology Research Institute (ETRI), the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), an independent administrative institution, has developed a new melting process with high accuracy control ensuring designed composition for hydrogen storage alloys containing low-boiling metals such as magnesium, calcium and lithium to be used as a medium for storing hydrogen in fuel cell-driven vehicles in collaboration with Japan Metals and Chemicals, Co., Ltd. (JMC, hereinafter).
Up to now, it was very difficult to fuse alloys consisting of low-boiling and -melting metals such as magnesium, calcium and lithium, and high-melting metal such as nickel, because of massive evaporation of low-boiling metal in the smelting furnace to hamper realizing alloys of designed composition, and security problem causing dust explosion with floating metal dust.
The ETRI-AIST and JMC focused attention on inert gas used as atmosphere within the furnace. With bottleneck problems resolved by replacing argon with mixed helium gas, the technology for melting alloys and compounds including low-boiling and -melting metals precisely in the designed composition has been developed successfully.
The outcome of this study will accelerate the development of hydrogen storage alloys, and provide a great stride toward the implementation of a hydrogen loading system for fuel cell-driven vehicles.
The details of this research work will be reported at the 136th Spring Meeting of the Japan Institute of Metals to be held at the Yokohama National University from March 29th to 31st, 2005.