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Crystal could generate pure hydrogen fuel

The bizarre behavior of an organic crystal called calixarene could help drive a hydrogen economy, suggests a new study.

Researchers describe a crystal that, when exposed to air, absorbs molecules such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, oxygen, and nitrogen. The crystal consists of two calixarene molecules joined together, resembling a pair of cups attached at a their open ends to leave a cavity inside.

Chemist Jerry Atwood of the University of Missouri-Columbia and his colleagues discovered calixarene's behavior after adding a drop of nitrobenzene to a layer of crystal material on a glass slide. Suddenly, the crystal began to bubble vigorously, says Atwood, indicating that molecules of nitrobenzene somehow had migrated into the crystal and forced out gas molecules.

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