Engineers have found a way to make domestic robots a lot quieter, by building them with artificial muscles that run on hydrogen, instead of noisy compressed-air pumps or electric motors.
According to a report in New Scientist, Kwang Kim, a materials engineer at the University of Nevada in Reno, came up with the idea after realizing that hydrogen can be supplied silently by metal hydride compounds. Metal hydrides can undergo a process called reversible chemisorption, allowing them to store and release extra hydrogen held by weak chemical bonds. It's this property that has led to the motor industry investigating metal hydrides as hydrogen "tanks" for fuel cells.
To make a silent artificial muscle, Kim and his colleague Alexandra Vanderhoff first compressed a copper and nickel-based metal hydride powder into peanut-sized pellets.
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