Counterintuitive material that expands under pressure to be used in fuel cells

The Daily Fusion — When you squeeze something, it gets smaller. Unless you’re at Argonne National Laboratory. At the suburban Chicago laboratory, a group of scientists has seemingly defied the laws of physics and created a new material that increases in volume with pressure instead of compressing or contracting. Among other potential applications, the new material can be used as compressible storage for carbon dioxide sequestration of hydrogen fuel cells.

Pressure-induced transitions are associated with near 2-fold volume expansions. While an increase in volume with pressure is counterintuitive, the resulting new phases contain large fluid-filled pores, such that the combined solid + fluid volume is reduced and the inefficiencies in space filling by the interpenetrated parent phase are eliminated. (Credit: Argonne National Laboratory)

Pressure-induced transitions are associated with near 2-fold volume expansions. While an increase in volume with pressure is counterintuitive, the resulting new phases contain large fluid-filled pores, such that the combined solid + fluid volume is reduced and the inefficiencies in space filling by the interpenetrated parent phase are eliminated.

“It’s like squeezing a stone and forming a giant sponge,” said Karena Chapman, a chemist at the U.S. Department of Energy laboratory. “Materials are supposed to become denser and more compact under pressure. We are seeing the exact opposite. The pressure-treated material has half the density of the original state. This is counterintuitive to the laws of physics.” Read more.

Posted June 25, 2013