[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.]
DLR techno-economic valuation of power-to-liquids finds reducing electrolyzer and electricity costs key to cost-competitive liquid hydrocarbons
July 20, 2015
In 2012, the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers launched a three-year project on the production of synthetic liquid hydrocarbons from electricity (i.e. Power-to-Liquids, PtL) using a multistage process (SynKWS), in cooperation with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) – Institute of Combustion Technology Stuttgart; the University of Stuttgart IFK; and the University of Bayreuth – Chair of Chemical Engineering.
As part of the SynKWS work, DLR researchers have now published a techno-economic study of a modeled PtL process in the journal Fuel. The multi-stage process uses renewable power to produce hydrogen using a proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyzer. The hydrogen from electrolysis and CO2, delivered by a pipeline, are fed to a plant where the gases are converted in a reverse water–gas shift (RWGS) reactor to syngas (H2 and CO). The syngas is then further converted to hydrocarbons using Fischer-Tropsch (FT) synthesis. The hydrocarbon syncrude is upgraded and separated from unreacted feed and gaseous hydrocarbons to make the final product.
Fukushima launching power-to-gas hydrogen project with MCH as hydrogen carrier; supply center by 2016
Fukushima and the Fukushima Renewable Energy Institute (FREA) have launched a power-to-has project with a view to making the prefecture a hydrogen supply center by as early as 2016, according to a report in The Japan Times, via Fukushima Minpo. The project will test and refine a model of hydrogen-supply infrastructure, which would then be used in creating a functioning supply center.
The project is a collaboration between the prefecture and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), the parent of FREA. AIST established FREA in April 2014 to promote R&D into renewable energy. FREA has two basic missions: the promotion of R&D into renewable energy, which is open to the world; and making a contribution to industrial clusters and reconstruction.
Total hydrogen station in Munich first to feature standard compressed H2 and BMW cryo-compressed H2 technology
July 16, 2015
Total has opened a hydrogen filling station on Munich’s Detmoldstraße. The station, which completes the European HyFIVE project’s South Cluster—comprising Stuttgart, Munich, Innsbruck and Bolsano—is the first public filling station at which the two pumps dispense hydrogen using two different types of refueling technology: industry-standard 700 bar CGH2 hydrogen storage technology (SAE J2601); and cryo-compressed hydrogen storage technology (CCH2).
Cryo-compressed hydrogen storage, being developed by the BMW Group based on its long experience with cryogenic storage, involves storing gaseous hydrogen at low temperature on board the vehicle at a pressure of up to 350 bar. It is currently at the advanced development stage and will only come on stream for general use over the longer time frame. CCH2 tanks offer up to 50% more hydrogen storage capacity than 700 bar tanks and can support a driving range of more than 500 kilometers (310 miles).
BMW shows future drive technologies; 2 Series PHEV prototype, direct water injection in 3-cyl. engine, and fuel cell eDrive
July 02, 2015
During a driving event at the Miramas proving grounds in southern France, BMW presented future drive technologies, including the prototype of a BMW 2 Series Active Tourer with plug-in hybrid drive. This application of BMW eDrive technologies features the first PHEV system with a front/transverse-mounted combustion engine, high-voltage generator and road-linked all-wheel drive via an electric drive system at the rear axle.
The company also showcased the use of direct water injection to enhance the efficiency of combustion engines at higher performance levels while also significantly reducing fuel consumption and emissions in key driving cycles. Finally, BMW showcased a hydrogen fuel cell drive system as a future-focused variant of BMW eDrive (teased in a technical session during April’s SAE World Congress in Detroit) enabling all-electric driving with a high operating range and short refueling times. (BMW is collaborating with Toyota on fuel cell systems. Earlier post.)
Study of size-dependent properties of Mg nanoparticles in H2 storage suggests path to better performance; potential for better on-board tanks
July 01, 2015
Although magnesium hydride (MgH2) is a promising solid-state hydrogen storage material, its slow hydrogen sorption kinetics have limited its application. Recent studies have shown, however, that with smaller Mg particles, the sorption kinetics improve. Since volume change during sorption generates stress, leading in turn to plastic deformation, the fundamentals of the mechanical deformation of the Mg particles are a significant issue.
Now, researchers from China and the US, including a colleague from GM R&D, have used in situ transmission electron microscopy to elucidate the size-dependent mechanical properties of Mg nanoparticles used for hydrogen storage. The team tested different sized nanoparticles to gauge their mechanical properties and discovered lessons on how one might engineer the nanoparticles to improve their performance. Their paper is published in the journal Applied Physics Letters.
McGill team develops simple system for reversible H2 storage using organic cyclic hydrocarbons; alternative route to solar fuels
June 15, 2015
A team at McGill University in Canada has developed a reversible hydrogen storage/release system based on the metal-catalyzed hydrogenation and photo-induced dehydrogenation of organic cyclic hydrocarbons at room temperature. The system, they suggest in a paper published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, provides an alternative route to artificial photosynthesis for directly harvesting and storing solar energy in the form of chemical fuel.
The system easily switches between hydrogen addition (>97% conversion) and release (>99% conversion) with superior capacity of 7.1 H2 wt% using a rationally optimized platinum catalyst with high electron density, simply regulated by dark/light conditions. In a paper published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, the researchers reported that the photodriven dehydrogenation of cyclic alkanes gave an excellent apparent quantum efficiency of 6.0% under visible light illumination (420–600 nm) without any other energy input.
DOE Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Program Annual Merit Review Awards
Each year, at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Annual Merit Review and Peer Evaluation Meeting, the Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program presents awards for contributions to the overall efforts of the Program and to recognize achievements in specific areas. At last week’s merit review meeting, DOE made awards to 13 engineers and researchers.
Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program Awards. DOE awarded two Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program awards: one to George Parks of Fuel Science, the other to Jesse Schneider of BMW. (Schneider also recently received the 2015 James M. Crawford Technical Standards Board Outstanding Achievement Award from SAE for his work on hydrogen standards.)
SAE World Congress panel highlights progress on H2 infrastructure and fuel cell vehicle commercialization
May 12, 2015
Although the SAE World Congress has been running panel sessions on fuel cell vehicle commercialization since 2005, this year was the first in which three participating automakers—Toyota, Hyundai and Honda—had fuel cell vehicles that customers can buy now or within a year. (Earlier post.) Many other OEMs are also working on development of fuel cell vehicles as well.
The PFL 799 technical executive expert panel at this year’s world Congress, chaired by Jesse Schneider (from BMW), invited those automakers as well as infrastructure leaders to discuss their progress in fuel cell technology and hydrogen infrastructure and challenges remaining. Participants included Hyundai, GM, Honda, Toyota, Linde and Air Liquide.
HRL Labs video demonstrates principle of thermal battery based on advanced metal hydrides for EV heating and cooling
April 30, 2015
In 2011, the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) awarded $2.7 million to a team comprising researchers from the University of Utah, HRL Laboratories and GM Global R&D for a project to develop a new generation of high-density thermal battery based on advanced metal hydrides. (Earlier post.) The goal of the project, part of ARPA-E’s HEATS (High Energy Advanced Thermal Storage) portfolio, was to develop a compact thermal battery for climate control in electric vehicles. Such a thermal battery would provide heating and cooling without draining the electric battery, in effect, extending the driving range of EVs per electric charge.
As described in a paper in press in the Journal of Alloys and Compounds, the developed system uses a pair of thermodynamically matched metal hydrides as energy storage media: (1) catalyzed MgH2 as the high temperature hydride material, due to its high energy density and enhanced kinetics; and (2) TiV0.62Mn1.5 alloy as the matching low temperature hydride. HRL has now released a video demonstrating the principle behind the work on thermal battery technology.
Toyota pops the hood on the technology of the fuel cell Mirai at SAE World Congress
April 29, 2015
|The new fuel cell stack in Mirai increases the current density by a factor of 2.4 compared to the conventional FC stack. Konno et al. Click to enlarge.|
At SAE 2015 World Congress last week, Toyota presented a set of four technical papers describing some of the technology innovations used in its production fuel cell hybrid electric vehicle Mirai (earlier post). The papers provide technical details on the high performance fuel-cell (FC) stack; specific insights into FC separator, and stack manifold; the newly developed boost converter; and the new high-pressure hydrogen storage system with innovative carbon fiber windings.
The Toyota papers were part of a larger World Congress technical session on practical hydrogen fuel cell technology: PFL 720, Advances in Fuel Cell Vehicle Applications, chaired by Jesse Schneider of BMW.
Self-propelled catalytic microparticles boost hydrogen release from liquid storage media
April 27, 2015
Researchers at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) have developed catalytically active micromotors that significantly increase the release of hydrogen from liquid storage media. In a paper in the journal Angewandte Chemie, they introduce their new concept with a model vehicle powered by a hydrogen–oxygen fuel cell.
The new motion-based H2-generation concept relies on the continuous movement of Pt-black/Ti Janus microparticle motors in a solution of sodium borohydride (NaBH4). The autonomous motion of catalytic micromotors in the NaBH4 solution and their effective bubble generation provide a favorable hydrodynamic environment that significantly enhances the fuel supply to the catalytic surface, and thus to rapid H2 generation, compared with that obtained from a static catalyst: about 9.2-times more rapid.
DOE awards U-Mich team $1.2M to synthesize and characterize promising MOFs for high-density H2 storage
April 23, 2015
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded a multidisciplinary team at the University of Michigan $1.2 million to investigate further highly promising metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) that the team had identified earlier as more efficient materials for high-density on-board hydrogen storage for fuel cell vehicles. (Earlier post.)
The U-M team’s efforts to develop such materials began in 2012 with researchers from multiple disciplines: Mike Cafarella, assistant professor of computer science and engineering; Antek Wong-Foy, associate research scientist in chemistry; Don Siegel, assistant professor of mechanical engineering; and postdoctoral researcher Jacob Goldsmith.
DOE awarding up to $4.6M to four projects for advanced hydrogen storage materials
April 09, 2015
The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award up to $4.6 million for four projects to develop advanced hydrogen storage materials that have potential to enable longer driving ranges and help make fuel cell systems competitive for different platforms and sizes of vehicles.
On-board hydrogen storage continues to be a challenging barriers to the widespread commercialization of hydrogen-fueled vehicles. The DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE) hydrogen storage activity focuses primarily on the applied research and development of low-pressure, materials-based technologies to allow for a driving range of more than 300 miles (500 km) while meeting packaging, cost, safety, and performance requirements to be competitive with current vehicles.
DOE to award up to $35M to advance fuel cell and hydrogen technologies; fuel cell range extenders
March 03, 2015
The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced (DOE-FOA-0001224) up to $35 million in available funding to advance fuel cell and hydrogen technologies, and to enable early adoption of fuel cell applications, such as light duty fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). (Earlier post.)
As FCEVs become increasingly commercially available, the Energy Department is focused on reducing the costs and increasing technical advancements of critical hydrogen infrastructure including production, delivery, and storage. This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) covers a broad spectrum of the Fuel Cell Technology Office (FCTO) portfolio with areas of interest ranging from research and development (R&D) to demonstration and deployment projects.
DOE FCTO selects 11 fuel cell incubator projects for up to $10M in awards; exploring alkaline exchange membrane FCs
February 26, 2015
The US Department of Energy (DOE) Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) has selected 11 projects to receive up to $10 million in funding through the fuel cell technology incubator FOA (earlier post) in support of innovations in fuel cell and hydrogen fuel technologies. The intention of these selections is to identify high-impact technologies that are not already addressed in FCTO’s strategic plan or mainstream project portfolio.
The selected projects will support research and development efforts to address critical challenges and barriers for hydrogen and fuel cell technology development. The projects selected have the potential significantly to lower the cost or improve the performance, durability, or efficiency of fuel cells or hydrogen fuel production. For example, in contrast to industry’s primary focus, which is polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFC), selected projects include a higher risk, completely different approach—alkaline exchange membrane fuel cells (AEMFC)—that can significantly reduce or even eliminate the need for expensive platinum as a catalyst in the long term. Such high-risk but high-impact potential projects complement the current FCTO portfolio.
Update on the GM-Honda collaboration on Gen 2 Fuel Cell Propulsion System
February 17, 2015
|Overview and partitioning of the GM-Honda collaboration on fuel cell propulsion. Click to enlarge.|
Over the past two years, GM and Honda have been collaborating on next-generation fuel cell and hydrogen storage systems, aiming at commercialization in the 2020 time frame. (Earlier post.) At the SAE 2015 Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Technologies Symposium in Los Angeles last week, Andrew Bosco, Chief Engineer for fuel cell engineering at GM, provided an progress update on the joint Gen 2 Fuel Cell Propulsion System. (At the SAE 2014 Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Technologies Symposium, Mark Mathias, Director, Fuel Cell R&D for GM, had also provided an update on the collaboration. Earlier post.)
As the two companies have emphasized from the beginning, Bosco reinforced that the current scope of the collaboration focuses on reducing the high cost of fuel cell specific systems: i.e., the fuel cell stack; balance of plant components; and hydrogen storage system (HSS). Development on the battery (regenerative ESS), fuel cell power electronics (FCPE); and electric traction system (ETS) is leveraging know-how and components from hybrids and battery-electric vehicle work.
Cal State LA hydrogen station becomes first in state certified to sell to the public by the kilogram
January 21, 2015
The Cal State L.A. (CSULA) Hydrogen Research and Fueling Facility has become the first hydrogen station in California to be certified to sell fuel to the public by the kilogram measure. Although the state currently has other other hydrogen stations “open to the public”, these stations have had to sell hydrogen by the tank, explained Michael Dray, the technical operations manager of the Hydrogen Research and Fueling Facility at CSULA.
Selling by the tank required a flat price be paid, irrespective of the actual amount of hydrogen dispensed. The state Division of Measurement Standards barred even a mention of a sale price per unit, Dray said.
Toyota inviting royalty-free use of ~5,680 hydrogen fuel cell patents
January 05, 2015
At CES, Toyota announced that it will invite royalty-free use of approximately 5,680 fuel cell related patents held globally, including critical technologies developed for the new Toyota Mirai. The list includes approximately 1,970 patents related to fuel cell stacks, 290 associated with high-pressure hydrogen tanks, 3,350 related to fuel cell system software control and 70 patents related to hydrogen production and supply.
The announcement covers only fuel cell-related patents wholly owned by Toyota. Patents related to fuel cell vehicles will be available for royalty-free licenses until the end of 2020. Patents for hydrogen production and supply will remain open for an unlimited duration. As part of licensing agreements, Toyota will request, but will not require, that other companies share their fuel cell-related patents with Toyota for similar royalty-free use.
Review paper: Graphene and related materials (GRMs) may play major role in energy applications
January 02, 2015
The large specific surface area (SSA)—i.e., the surface-to-mass ratio—of graphene, combined with its high electrical conductivity, high mechanical strength, ease of functionalization, and potential for mass production, makes it an extremely attractive platform for energy applications, such as a transparent conductive electrode for solar cells or as flexible high-capacity electrode in lithium-ion batteries and supercapacitors, notes a team of researchers from Europe, the US and Korea, in a paper reviewing the role of graphene and related systems for energy conversion and storage published in the journal Science. The combination of chemical functionalization and curvature control also opens new opportunities for hydrogen storage.
In addition to graphene, they note, other two-dimensional crystals such as the transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) display insulating, semiconducting (with band gaps in the visible region of the spectrum), and metallic behavior and can enable novel device architectures also in combination with graphene. As with graphene, these materials can be integrated on flexible surfaces and can be mass-produced. Yet another class of 2D crystals is the MXenes (e.g., earlier post)—layered, hexagonal carbides and nitrides that can accommodate various ions and molecules between their layers by intercalation. MXene sheets are promising for energy applications, such as lithium-ion batteries, supercapacitors, and hydrogen storage.
Sandia study finds underground geologic storage of hydrogen could boost transportation, energy security
December 09, 2014
Underground large-scale geologic storage of hydrogen for transportation fuel and grid-scale energy applications could offer substantial storage cost reductions as well as buffer capacity to meet possible disruptions in supply or changing seasonal demands, according to a recent Sandia National Laboratories study sponsored by the Department of Energy’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office.
Geologic storage of hydrogen gas could make it economically possible to produce and distribute large quantities of hydrogen fuel for a growing fuel cell electric vehicle market. The main findings of the economic analysis, published in the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, show that geologic limitations rather than city demand cause a larger disparity between costs from one city to the next.
Volkswagen Group shows 3 hydrogen fuel cell concepts at LA Show: Audi A7 Sportback h-tron; Golf Sportwagen HyMotion; Passat HyMotion
November 20, 2014
|Audi A7 Sportback h-tron. Click to enlarge.|
Audi and Volkswagen, both members of the Volkswagen Group, unveiled three hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle demonstrators at the Los Angeles Auto Show: the sporty Audi A7 Sportback h-tron quattro, a plug-in fuel-cell electric hybrid featuring permanent all-wheel drive and the Golf Sportwagen HyMotion, a fuel-cell hybrid, both received a formal introduction in the companies’ press conferences. Further, Volkswagen brought two Passat HyMotion demonstrators for media drives. (The Golf and Passat models have identical hydrogen powertrains and control software.)
All three incorporate a fourth-generation, 100 kW LT PEM (Low Temperature Proton Exchange Membrane) fuel cell stack developed in-house by Volkswagen Group Research at the Volkswagen Technology Center for Electric Traction. (Volkswagen is tapping some expertise from Ballard engineers under a long-term services contract, earlier post.) The Group is already at work on its fifth-generation version, said Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Board of Management for Technical Development at Audi, during a fuel cell technology workshop held at the LA show, and may be ready to talk about that technology by the end of next year.
DOE reports progress on development of hydrogen storage technologies
November 17, 2014
The US Department of Energy (DOE) Fuel Cell Technologies Office’ (FCTO) 2014 Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program Annual Progress Report (earlier post)—an annual summary of results from projects funded by DOE’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program—described a number of advances in the field of hydrogen storage.
The DOE Hydrogen Storage sub-program has developed a dual strategy. For the near-term, the focus is on improving performance and lowering the cost of high-pressure compressed hydrogen storage systems. For the long-term, the effort is on developing advanced cold/cryo-compressed and materials-based hydrogen storage system technologies.
Toshiba to partner with Kawasaki City on 5-year demo of independent energy supply system utilizing solar power and hydrogen
November 14, 2014
Toshiba Corporation and Kawasaki City will conduct a cooperative demonstration experiment of an independent energy supply system utilizing solar power and hydrogen. This system will be set up in the Kawasaki Marien public facility and Higashi-Ogishima-Naka Park in the Kawasaki Port area. The demonstration will run from April 2015 (the beginning of fiscal 2015) until the end of fiscal 2020 (March 2021).
The independent energy supply system combines a 25 kW photovoltaic facility; a storage battery; hydrogen-producing water electrolysis equipment; hydrogen (275 Nm3) and water tanks; and fuel cells. Electricity generated from the photovoltaic installations will be used to electrolyze water and produce hydrogen, which will then be stored in hydrogen tank and used in the fuel cells to provide electricity and hot water (60ℓ/h). Hydrogen electrical power storage capacity is 350 kWh. (Hydrogen storage capacity increases by about a maximum of 20%, depending on the weather.)
Opinion: Debunking the myths—Why fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) are viable for the mass market
November 07, 2014
by Dr. Henri Winand, CEO of Intelligent Energy
2014 has been a year of rapid growth for the fuel cell market with positive progress being made globally, especially in markets such as US, UK, Germany, France and Japan. Public-private investment initiatives, government funding for infrastructure and consumer subsidies, falling production costs and notably, the commitment to future OEM launches of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs)—all indicate a clear road to adoption. The findings from last year’s UK H2 Mobility report support this conclusion, outlining that FCEVs represent an attractive and sustainable long-term business proposition and that they can deliver important environmental and economic benefits to the UK.
Despite the recent progress, a number of myths around the use, power efficiency and cost of fuel cells still exist.
Anglo American Platinum invests in Hydrogenious Technologies; liquid organic hydrogen carrier technology for H2 storage
August 04, 2014
|Concept of hydrogen generation, storage and release using LOHCs. Click to enlarge.|
South Africa-based Anglo American Platinum, the world’s leading primary producer of platinum group metals (PGMs), has invested in the first close of the Series A financing round of Hydrogenious Technologies, a company developing liquid organic hydrogen carrier (LOHC) hydrogen storage technology. The round was fully funded by Anglo American.
Hydrogenious Technologies is a spin-off from the University of Erlangen- Nuremberg (Germany), which also holds a stake in the company, and the Bavarian Hydrogen Center. Instead of storing hydrogen either under high pressure of up to 700 bar or in liquid form at –253 °C, Hydrogenious’ technology catalytically binds and releases the hydrogen molecules to liquid organic hydrogen carriers (LOHCs). The proposed LOHC compounds have many physico-chemical similarities to diesel. Thus, LOHCs could make use of the existing energy infrastructure (e.g. tank ships, storage tanks or fueling stations) and enable a slow and step-wise replacement of the existing hydrocarbon fuels by alternative LOHC fuels.
SwRI receives $1.8M DOE award to develop linear motor reciprocating compressor for hydrogen
July 23, 2014
|Compression is a major contributor to the cost of hydrogen fueling. Source: Elgowainy et al. Click to enlarge.|
Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) will begin work in August on a $1.8-million contract awarded by the US Department of Energy DOE to develop, to fabricate and to test a linear motor reciprocating compressor (LMRC). The contract is one of 10 awarded by DOE for projects that will advance hydrogen production and delivery technologies for this fuel source. (Earlier post.)
In its 2012 Multi-Year Research, Development and Demonstration Plan, DOE notes that hydrogen fueling station compressor flow rates may be 5 - 100 kg/hr and require compression pressures as high as 90 MPa (900 bar). (Consumer vehicles will likely require gaseous hydrogen compressed to 70 MPa to meet acceptable range targets.) At present, hydrogen delivery (which includes compression) and storage is an expensive operation. Capital costs are high, and the equipment used is often inefficient and unreliable, leading to costly routine maintenance, repairs and downtime.