Researchers at Waseda University in Japan have developed a polymer which can safely store hydrogen.

Hydrogen has long been recognised as a potential major energy source but the conventional methods of storing and carrying hydrogen were accompanied by risks of fire and explosions.

The Waseda University research group has discovered a ketone (fluorenone) polymer, which can be molded as a plastic sheet, and can fix hydrogen by a simple electrolytic hydrogenation process in water at room temperature. The fluorenol polymer will release the hydrogen when heated with an aqueous iridium catalyst to 80° C . The research group has shown that, under mild conditions, the cycle of fixing and releasing hydrogen can be repeated without significant deterioration.

The polymer is easily handled, moldable, robust, non-flammable and has low toxicity pointing the way to the development of a plastic container for hydrogen that could be safely carried in your pocket.