[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]
Hydrogen from sunlight, but as a dark reaction; time-delayed photocatalytic H2 production
December 09, 2016
A team at the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research, Germany, and collaborators at ETH Zurich and the University of Cambridge, have developed a system that enables time-delayed photocatalytic hydrogen generation—essentially, an artificial photosynthesis system that can operate in the dark. A paper on their work is published in the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition.
The system uses a carbon nitride-based material that can harvest and store sunlight as long-lived trapped electrons for redox chemistry in the dark. More specifically, the system comprises a partially anionic, cyanamide-functionalized heptazine polymer, which, in the presence of an appropriate electron donor, forms a radical species under irradiation that has a lifetime of more than 10 hours. This ultra-long-lived radical can reductively produce hydrogen in the presence of a hydrogen evolution catalyst in the dark on demand.
JISEA: nuclear-renewable hybrid energy systems can reduce GHG from industry, produce fuels and support the power system
Nuclear-renewable hybrid energy systems (N-R HESs) can enable low-carbon, on-demand electricity while providing reduced-emission thermal energy for industrial processes. N-R HES systems are managed by a single entity that link a nuclear reactor that generates heat, a thermal power cycle for heat-to-electricity conversion, at least one renewable energy source, and an industrial process that uses thermal and/or electrical energy.
However, the economic feasibility of these systems may depend on future natural gas prices, electricity market structures, and clean energy incentives. A series of new reports from the Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis (JISEA) and Idaho National Laboratory (INL) examines various hybrid system configurations to provide a basis to identify opportunities for clean energy use and examine the most economically viable configurations.
Nikola Motor unveils prototype Class 8 fuel cell range-extended electric truck, plans for H2 fueling network
December 06, 2016
At an event at its Salt Lake City headquarters last week, startup Nikola Motor Company (NMC) unveiled the first public prototype of its Nikola One Class 8 hydrogen fuel cell range-extended electric truck, as well as renderings of the Nikola Two Class 8 day cab version. The company also announced its plan for a network of 364 hydrogen fueling stations across the US and Canada (Nikola is bundling fuel with the truck), and unveiled a 107 kWh battery pack for the Nikola Zero UTV along with a business plan to sell packs to OEMs.
The Nikola One utilizes a fully electric drivetrain featuring a 320 kWh Li-ion battery pack (32,000 cells) and a nearly 300 kW fuel cell stack powering a 6x4 four-wheel electric drive (four 800V AC motors) with torque vectoring. Delivering more than 1,000 hp (746 kW) and 2,000 lb-ft of torque, the Nikola One will have an expected range of 800-1,200 miles, the company said.
Detailed snapshots of photosynthesis at room temperature using SLAC’s X-ray laser show water-splitting reaction
November 21, 2016
One of its molecular mysteries of photosynthesis involves how the photosystem II protein complex harvests energy from sunlight and uses it to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.
Now, an international team of researchers has used femtosecond pulses from an X-ray free electron laser (XFEL) at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory to capture the highest resolution room-temperature (RT) images of this protein complex, allowing scientists to watch closely how water is split during photosynthesis at the temperature at which it occurs naturally. A paper on the work is published in the journal Nature.
DOE announces $30M in funding for hydrogen and fuel cell technologies
November 18, 2016
The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced approximately $30 million in available funding (DE-FOA-0001647), subject to appropriations, for research and development of low-cost hydrogen production, onboard hydrogen storage, and proton exchange membrane fuel cells to advance the widespread commercialization of fuel cell electric vehicles.
Selected projects will leverage national lab consortia launched under DOE’s Energy Materials Network (EMN) this past year, in support of DOE’s materials research and advanced manufacturing priorities. The EMN consortia have been established to make unique, world-class capabilities at the national laboratories more accessible to industry, facilitating collaborations that will expedite the development and manufacturing of advanced materials for commercial markets.
Compact pilot plant for solar to liquid fuels production
November 09, 2016
Partners from Germany and Finland in the SOLETAIR project are building a compact pilot plant for the production of gasoline, diesel and kerosene from solar energy, regenerative hydrogen and carbon dioxide. The plant will be compact enough to fit into a shipping container.
The plant consists of three components. A direct air capture unit developed by the Technical Research Center of Finland (VTT) extracts carbon dioxide from air. An electrolysis unit developed by Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) produces the required hydrogen by means of solar power. A microstructured, chemical reactor—the key component of the plant—converts the hydrogen produced from solar power together with carbon dioxide into liquid fuels. This reactor was developed by KIT. The compact plant was developed to maturity and is now being commercialized by KIT spin-off INERATEC.
Stanford team sets record for solar-to-hydrogen efficiency of solar water splitting: >30%
November 02, 2016
Researchers at Stanford University have demonstrated solar water splitting by photovoltaic-electrolysis with a solar-to-hydrogen (STH) efficiency of more than 30%—a new record. The prior record was 24.4%. An open-access paper on their work is published in the journal Nature Communications.
The system consists of two polymer electrolyte membrane electrolyzers in series with one InGaP/GaAs/GaInNAsSb triple-junction solar cell, which produces a large-enough voltage to drive both electrolyzers with no additional energy input. The solar concentration is adjusted such that the maximum power point of the photovoltaic is well matched to the operating capacity of the electrolyzers to optimize the system efficiency. The results, the researchers said, demonstrate the potential of photovoltaic-electrolysis systems for cost-effective solar energy storage.
DOE’s $10M Advanced Water Splitting Materials Consortium accelerating development of green hydrogen production
October 24, 2016
The Energy Department (DOE) recently announced $10 million, subject to appropriations, to support the launch of the HydroGEN Advanced Water Splitting Materials Consortium (HydroGEN). (Earlier post.) This consortium will utilize the expertise and capabilities of the national laboratories to accelerate the development of commercially viable pathways for hydrogen production from renewable energy sources.
HydroGEN is being launched as part of the Energy Materials Network (EMN) that began in February of this year, crafted to give American entrepreneurs and manufacturers a competitive edge in the global development of clean energy in support of the President’s Materials Genome Initiative and advanced manufacturing priorities.
DOE awarding $3.0M cost-share contract to FuelCell Energy for solid oxide electrolyzer; converting excess electricity to H2
October 23, 2016
FuelCell Energy, Inc. is developing a solid oxide electrolysis cell (SOEC) system to convert excess electricity during periods of low power demand into hydrogen efficiently. The US Department of Energy (DOE) is supporting this development with a $3.0 million cost-share contract to advance SOEC system design that will be added to the Advanced Technology backlog for the fourth quarter of 2016.
The market for energy storage is significant for high efficiency and flexible long duration storage that is affordable for rate payers. The energy storage market is expanding as utilities adjust to manage increased levels of intermittent renewable power generation supplying the electric grid. Annual global energy storage deployments are projected to increase to approximately 7 to 9 gigawatts by 2020 with continued increases thereafter. The SOEC solution being supported with this DOE funding meets these needs for both utility-scale applications as well as on-site opportunities.
UK, Saudi team shows hydrocarbon wax is a viable, safe medium for on-board hydrogen storage
October 20, 2016
Researchers at the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Cardiff in the UK, and the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) in Saudi Arabia have shown that benign, readily-available heavy alkane hydrocarbon wax is capable of rapidly releasing large amounts of hydrogen—sufficient to meet the 7 wt% target set by the US DOE—through microwave-assisted catalytic decomposition.
This discovery, reported in an open-access paper in Scientific Reports, offers a new material and system for safe and efficient hydrogen storage and could facilitate its application in a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. Hydrocarbon wax is the major product of the low temperature Fischer-Tropsch synthesis process from syngas and is currently thermally “cracked” to produce various fuels.
Sandia study finds high-speed hydrogen-powered ferry and supporting infrastructure in SF Bay feasible
October 06, 2016
A study by two researchers at Sandia National Laboratories has concluded that building and operating a high-speed passenger ferry solely powered by hydrogen fuel cells within the context of the San Francisco Bay is technically feasible, with full regulatory acceptance as well as the requisite associated hydrogen fueling infrastructure.
Funded by the Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration and led by Sandia, the feasibility study of the SF-Breeze (San Francisco Bay Renewable Energy Electric Vessel with Zero Emissions) brought together the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), the US Coast Guard, naval architect Elliott Bay Design Group (EBDG), the Port of San Francisco and dozens of other contributors.
DOE to invest $30M to further H2 and fuel cell technology as industry continues strong growth
The US Department of Energy (DOE) Energy Department (DOE) released a new report showing continued momentum and growth in the fuel cell industry. The 2015 Fuel Cell Technologies Market Report shows that more than 60,000 fuel cells, totaling roughly 300 megawatts (MW), shipped worldwide in 2015. The number of MW shipped grew by more than 65% compared to 2014. 2015 also saw the world’s first fuel cell vehicles for sale.
To further this emerging market, DOE also announced a notice of intent (DE-FOA-0001411) to invest $30 million, subject to appropriations, to advance fuel cell and hydrogen technologies. These projects will leverage national lab consortia launched under DOE’s Energy Materials Network (EMN) this past year (earlier post), and will support the President’s Materials Genome Initiative and advanced manufacturing priorities.
Univ. Houston, Caltech team develops new earth-abundant, cost-effective catalyst for water-splitting
September 20, 2016
A team of researchers from the University of Houston and the California Institute of Technology has developed an active and durable earth-abundant transition metal dichalcogenide-based hybrid catalyst for water-splitting that exhibits high hydrogen evolution activity approaching the state-of-the-art platinum catalysts. The new catalyst also offers activity superior to that of most transition metal dichalcogenides (molybdenum sulfide, cobalt diselenide and so on).
The material is fabricated by growing ternary molybdenum sulfoselenide particles on self-standing porous nickel diselenide foam. In an open-access paper in the journal Nature Communications, the team said that their advance provides a different pathway to design cheap, efficient and sizable hydrogen-evolving electrode by simultaneously tuning the number of catalytic edge sites, porosity, heteroatom doping and electrical conductivity.
DOE seeking input on H2@scale: hydrogen as centerpiece of future energy system; 50% reduction in energy GHGs by 2050
September 11, 2016
Earlier this year, The US Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories identified the potential of hydrogen to decarbonize deeply a multitude of sectors in a proposal termed “H2@Scale”. Preliminary analysis performed by the national laboratories on the H2@Scale concept indicated that nearly a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is possible by 2050 via such large-scale hydrogen production and use.
The concept sees hydrogen—a flexible, clean energy-carrying intermediate—having the potential to be a centerpiece of a future energy system where aggressive market penetration of renewables (wind and solar) are coupled with renewable hydrogen production to meet society’s energy demands across industrial, transportation, and power generation sectors using clean, renewable resources and processes.
SLAC, Stanford team develops new catalyst for water-splitting for renewable fuels production; 100x more efficient than other acid-stable catalysts
September 02, 2016
Researchers at Stanford University and the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have developed a new highly active and stable IrOx/SrIrO3 catalyst for the oxygen evolution reaction (OER).
The new catalyst outperforms known IrOx and ruthenium oxide (RuOx) systems, the only other OER catalysts that have reasonable activity in acidic electrolyte. Because it requires less of the rare and costly metal iridium, the new catalyst could bring down the cost of artifical photosynthetic processes that use sunlight to split water molecules—a key step in a renewable, sustainable pathway to produce hydrogen or carbon-based fuels that can power a broad range of energy technologies. The team published their results in the journal Science.
Swiss team develops effective and low-cost solar water-splitting device; 14.2% solar-to-hydrogen efficiency
August 25, 2016
Using commercially available solar cells and none of the usual rare metals, researchers at the Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM) and École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) have designed an intrinsically stable and scalable solar water splitting device that is fully based on earth-abundant materials, with a solar-to-hydrogen conversion efficiency of 14.2%.
The prototype system is made up of three interconnected, new-generation, crystalline silicon solar cells attached to an electrolysis system that does not rely on rare metals. The device has already been run for more than 100 hours straight under test conditions. The method, which surpasses previous efforts in terms of stability, performance, lifespan and cost efficiency, is published in the Journal of The Electrochemical Society.
DOE issues Request for Information on hydrogen infrastructure RD&D
July 28, 2016
The US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) has issued a request for information (RFI) (DE-FOA-0001626) to obtain feedback from stakeholders regarding deployment of hydrogen fueling stations, delivery infrastructure, and barriers and activities to pursue in both the near and longer term.
Potential activities would complement existing FCTO activities that address the barriers hydrogen fueling stations face today, including renewable hydrogen fuel cost; station and equipment cost; station reliability and performance; codes and standards development; manufacturing needs; and outreach and training needs.
Researchers identify pentlandite as equally efficient alternative to platinum for hydrogen production
July 27, 2016
Researchers have identified artificially-produced pentlandite (a natural ore, Fe4.5Ni4.5S8) as a direct ‘rock’ electrode without the need of further surface modifications for hydrogen evolution under acidic conditions. The pentlandite provides high activity and stability at low overpotential for H2 generation. According to their study, artificial pentlandite is just as efficient as the platinum electrodes commonly used today for the electrolytic production of hydrogen from water, but is lower cost.
A team headed by Dr. Ulf-Peter Apfel and Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schuhmann of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum describes the results of their work together with colleagues from the Max-Planck-Institute for Coal Research in Mülheim an der Ruhr and the Technical University of Bratislava in an open-access paper published in Nature Communications.
UK team produces hydrogen from fescue grass via photocatalytic reforming
July 21, 2016
A team of researchers from the UK’s Cardiff University’s Cardiff Catalysis Institute and Queen’s University Belfast have shown that significant amounts of hydrogen can be unlocked from fescue grass—without significant pre-treatment—using sunlight and a metal-loaded titania photocatalyst. An open access paper on their work is published in Proceedings of the Royal Society A.
Based on their study, the team proposed that the first step in their photoreforming of cellulose was the (photo)hydrolysis of cellulose into glucose, with the latter then undergoing reforming to hydrogen and CO2. It is the first time that this method has been demonstrated and could potentially lead to a sustainable way of producing hydrogen.
Duke study: serpentinized rock in oceans may be large, overlooked source of free hydrogen gas
Rocks formed beneath the ocean floor by fast-spreading tectonic plates may be a large and previously overlooked source of free hydrogen gas, a new Duke University study suggests. Their paper is published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
Recent discoveries of free hydrogen gas, which was once thought to be very rare, have been made near slow-spreading tectonic plates deep beneath Earth’s continents and under the sea. Previous estimates suggest that serpentinization—a processes whereby rock is changed, with the addition of water, into the crystal structure of the minerals found within the rock—within the continental lithosphere (the crust and upper mantle of the earth) produces hydrogen at rates comparable to the oceanic lithosphere (both are ~1011 mol H2/yr).
DOE awards $14M to advance hydrogen fuel technologies
July 12, 2016
The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced up to $14 million in funding for the advancement of hydrogen fuel technologies. Specifically, these selections include advanced high-temperature water splitting; advanced compression; and thermal insulation technologies.
For cost-competitive transportation, hydrogen must be comparable to conventional fuels and technologies on a per-mile basis in order to succeed in the commercial marketplace. DOE’s current target is to reduce the cost of producing and delivering hydrogen to less than $4 per gallon of gas equivalent (gge) by 2020 and $7/gge for early markets.
KTH team develops new cost-effective water-splitting electrocatalyst for H2 production
June 27, 2016
Researchers at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm have developed a new cost-effective electrocatalyst for water-splitting to produce hydrogen.
The monolayer of nickel–vanadium-layered double hydroxide shows a current density of 27 mA cm−2 (57 mA cm−2 after ohmic-drop correction) at an overpotential of 350 mV for water oxidation. This performance is comparable to those of the best-performing electrocatalysts that are composed of non-precious materials—nickel–iron-layered double hydroxides for water oxidation in alkaline media—the researchers report in an open access paper in Nature Communications.
Stanford solar tandem cell shows promise for efficient solar-driven water-splitting to produce hydrogen
June 23, 2016
Researchers at Stanford University, with colleagues in China, have developed a tandem solar cell consisting of an approximately 700-nm-thick nanoporous Mo-doped bismuth vanadate (BiVO4) (Mo:BiVO4) layer on an engineered Si nanocone substrate. The nanocone/Mo:BiVO4 assembly is in turn combined with a solar cell made of perovskite.
When placed in water, the device immediately began splitting water at a solar-to-hydrogen conversion efficiency of 6.2%—matching the theoretical maximum rate for a bismuth vanadate cell. Although the efficiency demonstrated was only 6.2%, the tandem device has room for significant improvement in the future, said Stanford Professor Yi Cui, a principal investigator at the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences and senior author of an open access paper describing the work published in Scientific Advances.
USC team develops new robust iridium catalyst for release of hydrogen from formic acid
June 17, 2016
A team of researchers at the University of Southern California has developed a robust, reusable iridium catalyst that enables hydrogen gas release from neat formic acid. The catalyst works under mild conditions in the presence of air, is highly selective and affords millions of turnover numbers (TONs).
Although other catalysts exist for both formic acid dehydrogenation and carbon dioxide reduction, solutions to date on hydrogen gas release rely on volatile components that reduce the weight content of stored hydrogen and/or introduce fuel cell poisons; this new catalyst does not. An open-access paper on their work is published in the journal Nature Communications.
Plug Power and HyGear partner to provide small-scale SMR hydrogen production technology to fuel cell system customers
June 10, 2016
Fuel cell system manufacturer Plug Power Inc. and HyGear, supplier of cost-effective industrial gases, are partnering to supply HyGear’s Hy.GEN hydrogen generation technology to Plug Power fuel cell customers globally. The first deployments are scheduled to be installed in the fourth quarter of 2016 at a new site for one of Plug Power’s existing customers.
Hy.GEN is based on small-scale steam methane reforming (SMR). The small scale on-site hydrogen generation systems range from 5 Nm3/h up to 100 Nm3/h, making them suitable for use at industrial sites and hydrogen filling stations. Hy.GEN systems allow the option to use biogas for a “green” hydrogen solution.
New catalyst system produces H2 and CO2 from formic acid at low temperatures
June 07, 2016
An international team led by researchers at the University of Melbourne has developed a new catalyst system for the efficient removal of CO2 from formic acid (HO2CH), resulting in the production of CO2 and H2 at a low temperature of 70 °C. Other methods for producing hydrogen from formic acid have required high temperatures, and also produce waste products.
The work, described in an open-access paper in Nature Communications marks a new frontier in catalyst design at the molecular level. Such catalysts are formulated to produce highly selective chemical reactions.
Bochum team engineers artificial hydrogenase for hydrogen production; targeting foundation for industrial manufacturing
June 01, 2016
Researchers at Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) have engineered a hydrogen-producing enzyme in the test tube that works as efficiently as the original. The protein—a hydrogenase from green algae ( [FeFe]-hydrogenase HYDA1 from Chlamydomonas reinhardtii)—is made up of a protein scaffold and a cofactor.
The researchers have been investigating mechanisms of hydrogen biocatalysis for a number of years. In 2013, the team reported developing semi-synthetic hydrogenases by adding the protein’s biological precursor to a chemically synthesized inactive iron complex.
Researchers report cost-effective synthesis of NiFe-layered double hydroxides nanosheets as efficient OER catalyst
May 31, 2016
A team from Brown University and Lakehead University (Canada) have developed a method for the facile and cost-effective synthesis of NiFe-layered double hydroxides (LDH) nanosheets to serve as efficient catalyst for the oxygen evolution reaction in an alkaline environment.
Compared to previously reported LDH catalysts, the new nanosheets exhibit a much higher oxygen evolution activity. The overpotential of catalytic OER was very low and the Tafel slope (Tafel analysis is a tool for comparing electrocatalytic activity and elucidating the reaction mechanism) was close to that of a commercial RuO2 catalyst. A paper describing their work is published in the journal Electrochemistry Communications.
Clariant to scale-up catalysts for Gevo’s Ethanol-to-Olefins (ETO) technology; renewable diesel and hydrogen
May 19, 2016
Gevo, Inc. has entered into an agreement with Clariant Corp., one of the world’s leading specialty chemical companies, to develop catalysts to enable Gevo’s Ethanol-to-Olefins (ETO) technology.
Gevo’s ETO technology, which uses ethanol as a feedstock, produces tailored mixes of propylene, isobutylene and hydrogen, which are valuable as standalone molecules, or as feedstocks to produce other products such as diesel fuel and commodity plastics, that would be drop-in replacements for their fossil-based equivalents. ETO is a chemical process, not a biological process as is Gevo’s conversion of biomass to isobutanol.
Columbia team develops simple, low-cost, scaleable membraneless electrolyzer fabricated with 3D printing for H2 production
May 09, 2016
Researchers at Columbia University are investigating the use of membraneless electrochemical flow cells for hydrogen production from water electrolysis that are based on angled mesh flow-through electrodes.
The devices can be fabricated with as few as three parts (anode, cathode, and cell body), reflecting their simplicity and potential for low-cost manufacture.The researchers used 3D printing to fabricate prototype electrolyzers that they demonstrated to be electrolyte agnostic, modular, and capable of operating with minimal product crossover. An open-access paper describing their work is published in the Journal of the Electrochemical Society.
Uno-X Hydrogen to build 1st hydrogen refueling station w/ hydrogen produced by surplus renewable energy from neighboring building
April 04, 2016
Uno-X Hydrogen AS, a NEL ASA (NEL) joint venture, will build a hydrogen refueling station (HRS) with on-site hydrogen production co-located with Powerhouse Kjørbo, an energy-positive office building in Sandvika, Norway.
Powerhouse Kjørbo, which is owned by Entra ASA, uses solar panels that can supply upward of 200,000 kWh each year, twice the amount of the building’s annual energy consumption. Excess electricity from solar will be used to produce the hydrogen on-site.
Researchers synthesize first ruthenium nanoframes; potential for better catalysts
April 02, 2016
A team of chemists, led by Xiaohu Xia from Michigan Technological University, has developed an effective method based on seeded growth and chemical etching for the facile synthesis of ruthenium (Ru) nanoframes (NFs) with high purity for use as effective catalysts. A paper on their work is published in the ACS journal Nano Letters
Although this marks the first synthesis of ruthenium nanoframes, the break-through is not limited to this one metal. Xia says the process the team developed is more important.
SLAC, U Toronto team develops new highly efficient ternary OER catalyst for water-splitting using earth-abundant metals; >3x TOF prior record-holder
March 25, 2016
Scientists from the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and the University of Toronto have developed a new type of ternary catalyst for the oxygen evolution reaction (OER) in water-splitting that exhibits a turnover frequency (TOF) that’s more than three-times above the TOF and mass activities of optimized control catalysts and the state-of-art NiFeOOH catalyst.
The research, published in the journal Science, outlines a potential way to make a future generation of water-splitting catalysts from three abundant metals—iron (Fe), cobalt (Co) and tungsten (W)—rather than the rare, costly metals on which many of today’s catalysts rely. The gelled FeCoW oxy-hydroxide material exhibits the lowest overpotential (191 mV) reported at 10 mA per square centimeter in alkaline electrolyte. Further, the ternary catalyst showed no evidence of degradation following more than 500 hours of operation.
Japanese public-private partnership to test end-to-end H2 supply chain using wind power to begin this fall; 2nd-life hybrid batteries for ESS
March 14, 2016
A Japanese partnership comprising the Kanagawa Prefectural Government; the municipal governments of the cities of Yokohama and Kawasaki; Toyota; Toshiba; and Iwatani announced the forthcoming start of a four-year project to implement and evaluate an end-to-end low-carbon hydrogen supply chain which will use hydrogen produced from renewable energy to power forklifts. (Earlier post.) The project will be carried out at facilities along Tokyo Bay in Yokohama and Kawasaki, with support from Japan’s Ministry of the Environment.
Electricity generated at the Yokohama City Wind Power Plant (Hama Wing) will power the electrolytic production of hydrogen, which will then be compressed, stored, and then transported in a hydrogen fueling truck to four sites: a factory, a vegetable and fruit market, and two warehouses. At these locations, the hydrogen will be used in fuel cells to power forklifts operating in diverse conditions.
German team doubles activity of water electrolysis catalysts for H2 production with monolayer of copper on platinum
March 10, 2016
A team from the Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Technische Universität München and Universiteit Leiden has doubled the catalytic activity of electrodes for water electrolysis by applying a monolayer of copper the platinum electrodes. The resulting electrodes are the most active electrocatalysts ever reported for the HER (hydrogen evolution reaction) in acidic media under comparable conditions, to the best of their knowledge, wrote the authors in an open-access paper in the journal Nature Communications.
Only about 4% of global hydrogen production is via water electrolysis, according to a 2012 analysis (Bičáková and Straka). The main impediments to a wider commercialization are the high energy losses in electrolyzers due to the insufficient activity of state-of-the-art electrodes.
New photoelectrode with enhanced visible light absorption for improved solar water-splitting for hydrogen production
February 16, 2016
A team of researchers at Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), Korea University, and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) has developed a new type of multilayered (Au NPs/TiO2/Au) photoelectrode that could boost the ability of solar water-splitting to produce hydrogen.
This multilayered photoelectrode is a two-dimensional hybrid metal-dielectric structure, comprising three layers of gold (Au) film; an ultrathin TiO2 layer (20 nm), and gold nanoparticles (Au NPs). In a study, reported in the journal Nano Energy, the team reported that the photoelectrode shows high light absorption of about 90% in the visible range 380-700 nm, as well as significant enhancement in photo-catalytic applications.
Process for production of jet-range hydrocarbons from crude Jatropha oil using hydrogen produced in-situ from formic acid
A team at the Korea Institute of Energy Research has developed a catalytic process for the production of jet-range oxygen-free hydrocarbons from crude Jatropha oil, using hydrogen produced in-situ from formic acid.
In a fixed bed reaction using a mixture of crude Jatropha oil and formic acid, normal hydrocarbon in the range of C10–C18 (mostly C15 and C17) was the main product—about 97% in the liquid product—and the degree of deoxygenation was about 99.5%. A paper on their work is published in the journal Fuel.
Berkeley team develops host-guest nanowires for efficient water splitting and solar energy storage
February 04, 2016
Although metal oxides that absorb visible light are attractive for use as photoanodes in photoelectrosynthetic cells, their performance is often limited by poor charge carrier transport. Researchers from UC Berkeley and colleagues have now addressed this issue by using separate materials for light absorption and carrier transport.
The team reports on their host-guest system of Ta:TiO2|BiVO4 as a photoanode for use in solar water splitting cells in an open-access paper in the journal ACS Central Science. BiVO4 acts as a visible light-absorber and Ta:TiO2 acts as a high surface area electron conductor. The host–guest nanowire architecture allows for simultaneously high light absorption and carrier collection efficiency for efficient solar water oxidation.
New German ecoPtG project seeks to make power-to-gas commercially viable with help of automotive technology
In collaboration with engineering partner IAV, the Zentrum für Sonnenenergie- und Wasserstoff-Forschung Baden-Württemberg (Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg, ZSW); the Reiner Lemoine Institut (RLI); and Wasserelektrolyse Hydrotechnik (HT) are researching cost-effective methods of producing hydrogen with the help of automotive technology. In the ecoPtG project, the researchers and engineers are developing an alkaline water electrolyzer with an output of 100 kW. They aim to demonstrate that CO2-neutral hydrogen can be produced in a cost-effective manner and intend to facilitate the storage of electricity.
Electricity is increasingly being generated from fluctuating renewable sources. Solar and wind energy generation depends on the weather and is subject to significant fluctuations. At times, renewable energy production thus temporarily exceeds regional demand. Hydrogen produced according to the power-to-gas method can play a role in resolving this challenge and decarbonizing the transport sector. By converting electricity to gas, solar and wind power become storable. If required, hydrogen can be reconverted or used as environmentally compatible fuel for fuel cell vehicles.
Tottori Prefecture, Tottori Gas, Sekisui House and Honda cooperate in hydrogen demonstration; smart house and FCV
January 25, 2016
Tottori Prefecture, Tottori Gas Co., Ltd, Sekisui House Ltd. and Honda Motor Co., Ltd. signed an agreement to pursue jointly Tottori Prefecture’s project to establish a base for a hydrogen energy demonstration (and environmental education). This will be Japan’s first case where hydrogen energy will be utilized through the integration of a hydrogen station which creates hydrogen from renewable energy, a smart house and a fuel cell vehicle (FCV).
The purpose of this project is to promote the popularization of smart houses and FCVs. The project will install, for the first time on the Sea of Japan side of the archipelago, a Smart Hydrogen Station (SHS) using Honda’s high-differential-pressure electrolyzer that supplies hydrogen created by electrolysis of water using renewable energy. Honda will also supply its new Clarity fuel cell vehicle.
IU scientists create self-assembling biocatalyst for the production of hydrogen; modified hydrogenase in a virus shell
January 04, 2016
Scientists at Indiana University have created a highly efficient self-assembling biomaterial that catalyzes the formation of hydrogen. A modified hydrogenase enzyme that gains strength from being protected within the protein shell (capsid) of a bacterial virus, this new material is 150 times more efficient than the unaltered form of the enzyme.
The material is potentially far less expensive and more environmentally friendly to produce than other catalytic materials for hydrogen production. The process of creating the material was recently reported in the journal Nature Chemistry.
DOE releases three reports showing strong growth in US fuel cell and hydrogen technologies market
December 24, 2015
The US Department of Energy (DOE) released three new reports today showcasing strong growth across the US fuel cell and hydrogen technologies market. According to these reports, the United States continues to be one of the world’s largest and fastest growing markets for fuel cell and hydrogen technologies.
With support from the Energy Department, its national laboratories and private industry have already achieved significant advances in fuel cell and hydrogen technologies, resulting in reduced costs and improved performance. These research and development efforts have helped reduce automotive fuel cell costs by more than 50% since 2006 and by more than 30% since 2008. At the same time, fuel cell durability has quadrupled and the amount of expensive platinum needed in fuel cells has decreased by 80 percent in the last decade.
FuelCell Energy pathway for hydrogen from digester gas has negative carbon intensity for CA LCFS
December 23, 2015
Connecticut-based FuelCell Energy (FCE) has applied for a prospective pathway for California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) for the production of hydrogen fuel produced from biogas derived from the mesophilic anaerobic digestion of wastewater sludge at a publicly owned treatment works (POTW).
The biogas is cleaned, then internally reformed in an integrated hydrogen energy system (Tri-Gen DFC) that produces hydrogen fuel for transportation; electric power for plant operations and export; as well as thermal energy for plant use. Once the internal energy demands of the pathway have been met, any energy not utilized for process is considered to be surplus to the system boundary and is credited to the FCE pathway.
NREL research advances photoelectrochemical production of hydrogen using molecular catalyst
December 21, 2015
Researchers at the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have made advances toward affordable photoelectrochemical (PEC) production of hydrogen. A paper on their work is published in Nature Materials.
The PEC process uses solar energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. The process requires special semiconductors, the PEC materials and catalysts to split the water. Previous work used precious metals such as platinum, ruthenium and iridium as catalysts attached to the semiconductors. A large-scale commercial effort using those precious metals wouldn’t be cost-effective, however.
Purdue, EPFL team propose Hydricity concept for integrated co-production of H2 and electricity from solar thermal energy
December 16, 2015
Researchers from Purdue University and École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland are proposing a new integrated process involving the co-production of hydrogen and electricity from solar thermal energy—a concept they label “hydricity”. They describe their proposal in a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
The hydricity process entails integrating solar water power (SWP) cycle and solar thermal hydrogen production technologies and a turbine-based hydrogen power cycle with suitable improvements of each for compatibility and beneficial interaction.
DOE issues $35M funding opportunity for hydrogen and fuel cell technologies
December 11, 2015
The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced up to $35 million in available funding to advance hydrogen and fuel cell technologies (earlier post) to support research and development, early market deployments, and domestic manufacturing. The Department also aims to develop collaborative consortia for fuel cell performance and durability and advanced hydrogen storage materials research to leverage the capabilities of national lab core teams.
The available funding (DE-FOA-0001412) includes hydrogen production, delivery, and storage research and development (R&D); demonstration of infrastructure component manufacturing, and support for Climate Action Champions deploying hydrogen and fuel cell technologies; consortia topics for fuel cell performance and durability and advanced hydrogen storage materials research; and cost and performance analysis for hydrogen production, storage, and fuel cells.