Abstract Hydrogen storage in traditional metallic hydrides can deliver about 1.5 to 2.0 wt pct hydrogen but magnesium hydrides can achieve more than 7 wt pct. However, these systems suffer from high temperature release drawback and chemical instability problems. Recently, big improvements of reducing temperature and increasing kinetics of hydrogenation have been made in nanostructured Mg-based composites. This paper aims to provide an overview of the science and engineering of Mg materials and their nanosized composites with nanostructured carbon for hydrogen storage. The needs in research including preparation of the materials, processing and characterisation and basic mechanisms will be explored. The preliminary experimental results indicated a promising future for chemically stable hydrogen storage using carbon nanotubes modified metal hydrides under lower temperatures.