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Proton OnSite achieves hydrogen gas production at 5,000 psi without a compressor

Proton OnSite’s latest project with the US Department of Energy (DOE) has yielded a proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyzer stack that can produce hydrogen gas at the pressure required to fuel a vehicle, without the need for a compressor.

A high-differential pressure PEM stack can now safely generate hydrogen gas at 5,000 psi (344 bar) without the need for a compressor, while releasing the outgoing oxygen gas at atmospheric pressure. Proton OnSite began collaborating with the DOE in February 2010 on Phase I of the project. With this achievement, Proton OnSite will successfully end Phase II in August 2012.

Currently, fuel cell buses and some passenger cars require hydrogen gas at 5,000 psi, which is attained by attaching a compressor to the refueler. Attaining this level without a compressor brings refueling stations a step closer to forgoing this capital- and maintenance-intensive piece of equipment. This would allow stations to pass these savings onto drivers of fuel cell vehicles through lower fuel costs.

PEM electrolyzers work by running a current through a solid polymer electrolyte, which through electrolysis draws a hydrogen ion (proton) from deionized water and through the membrane. These ions combine at the other end of the membrane to produce hydrogen gas, leaving oxygen on the other side. Manufacturers who are currently developing fuel cells for automobiles are using this same PEM technology in reverse.

Comments

Davemart

Step by step, the building blocks are going in for the hydrogen economy.

HarveyD

This seems to be too easy to be true. A very special and very expensive technology is probably used. Could every eventual hydrogen station have its own PEM electrolyzer and high pressure hydrogen storage tanks?

Davemart

This is using electricity to produce hydrogen from water.
It is probably cheaper and more energetically efficient to reform natural gas, most places, but this could be handy in some locations.

HarveyD

Yes DM...we have plenty of free fresh water and very cheap clean hydro electricity @ about $0.025/Kwh for potential hydrogen stations, but no cheap NG or SG yet. Making hydrogen off peak electricity demand periods could be cheaper yet.

Kit P

The hydrogen economy is one of those stupid ideas that economists who sell books without talking to engineers.

As an energy source, hydrogen is just an inefficient energy carrier. We produce a lot of hydrogen in various ways because hydrogen has many uses but it is just not practical as a fuel because we have many other much safer.

The dramatic part of melting down fuel in the reactors in Japan was the hydrogen explosions. There were no close calls for radiation poisoning but the first hydrogen explosion injured a few workers. That was a close call for killing workers.

As am industrial gas, hydrogen if very scary stuff. We can make it safe enough to use but nobody but the rich will be able to afford to use it.

Davemart

Using any stick Kit....
The hydrogen venting at Fukushima was the result of very poor design, as was the need for it as there was not adequate back up.
Meanwhile your beloved coal continues to kill hundreds of thousands a year, and it's waste dumped on the landscape contains substantial amounts of mercury, arsenic and other goodies.
Do get a sense of proportion.

Henry Gibson

The production of hydrogen by electrolysis for automobiles is a waste of energy; first in making the hydrogen; and then converting it back into electricity with a fuel cell. The efficiency is very low in both making it and using it and the equipment is very expensive.

Mr. Putin can obtain the necessary isotope, once used in Pacemakers, to build an automobile that will run without fuel for over 80 years. Russia is the only country that makes it, but France could, and the US bought some for past and future Mars rovers and Voyagers. It is far safer to use than Lithium batteries as demonstrated in China last week.

ZEBRA batteries are far more efficient and less expensive than fuel cells and may not even weigh as much as the necessary hydrogen tanks.

The increased capacity new lead acid batteries by Atraverda are suitable for most automotive trips, and single piston range extender engines are adequate for the occasional longer trip.

Hydrogen might be the city gas of the future as it formed much of the city gas of the past for pipe delivery. It may only have 30 percent of the energy of natural gas, but it flows easier to partially compensate.

Electric vehicles are mostly suited for the limited distance of the average journey. Hydraulic hybrids with Artemis technology have demonstrated much lower costs and increased performance. INNAS NOAX has also an interesting proposed and tested system. Parry People Movers add a large flywheel for more energy storage and efficiency. ..HG..

ToppaTom

Not enough details. I assume the electricity that pulls H2 and O2 from H2O can work up against a 5000 psi pressure -

How much (or how much more) energy does this take and is a simple compressor a better way?

Either way is electric power to H2 and H2 for fuel viable way?

I have to believe it is all "viable"- but so was the Wankel engine.

HarveyD

ICE vehicles @ 18% efficiency are not difficult to surpass. Most, if not all electrified and FC vehicles will do better.

For rarely used range extenders (for PHEVs), improved much smaller and lighter ICE genset or FC could do the job. ICEs are currently much cheaper than FCs but that may change in the longer term or until such time as batteries with 10x the energy density become available at an affordable price.

Kit P

@Davemart

I have a great sense of proportion. Dead and not dead!

The reactors in Japan were not a poor design. A massive natural disaster that was well beyond design basis of the plants and no one was killed. Not dead!

Second the way we produce power in the US with coal does not kill anyone because of emissions. Not dead. A truck driver was killed and five workers injured at a coal plant because of a hydrogen explosion a couple of years ago. Dead!

When Davemart uses hydrogen at his house, the people killed by the explosion will be his family. Dead!

My point is that we design for no one to be killed in a hypothetical accident. People who use hydrogen are trained in the hazards. When I went to look for a leak in a system that contained hydrogen, I took an explosive meter with me.

So think about this. Unit 4 in Japan had not fuel damage. The apparent cause of the explosion there was leakage from Unit 3 because the loss of power resulted in no ventilation. In you garage with a HFCV, what will happen if you lose power and there is a hydrogen leak?

After the first family is killed, local fire marshals will shut down all the hydrogen systems in the unlikely event that someone like me was able to convince them it was safe and someone like Davemart will foot the bill to pay for it.

ICE have hazards too but it is a case of the devil you know at the cost you know.

Engineer-Poet

Design basis unable to handle actual events = poor design, by definition.

The fact that there have been few injuries and no fatalities despite all of this is testament to the safety of nuclear power.  The fact that nearnby plants which were only slightly newer shrugged off the quake and tsunami proves that the nay-sayers are wrong.  Japan should fire up its nukes again, right away.

Reel$$

"When Davemart uses hydrogen at his house, the people killed by the explosion will be his family. Dead!" LOL

But wait, what about all they guys using LNG, NG, Propane, LPG, etc... same potential. Dead.

Kit P


E-P do you design things to withstand an asteroid hit? That is an actual event. We do not have to design for very rare events.

E-P do you design things to withstand events that have never happened? It is not an event until it has happened. This disaster was worse than any that had happened before and not by a little bit either. That is why 20,000 were killed in a country that expects a tsunami after an earthquake.

LWR designed to US standards are safe even when the unexpected happens. Even if the fuel is damaged, no one is hurt by radiation. However, now there is a new design basis because the event has happened. Until nuke plants in Japan show that they meet the new design basis they should remain shutdown.

'same potential'

No actually, the potential for hydrogen is much greater but the same principle applies. LNG, NG, Propane, LPG, etc. are much easier to handle and have a less severe explosive force. LNG, NG, Propane, LPG, etc. are energy sources not energy carriers.

If hydrogen produced with electricity was my only choice then I would use it taking the proper precautions. It is just not going to happen for a long time.

Roger Pham

For additional safety, Hydrogen line does not need to go inside the house. Heater and boiler can be placed in well-ventilated places outdoor. Cooking can be done electrically. Very sensitive H2 sensor can be placed where hydrogen leak is likely, and a feedback mechanism is designed to shut off the flow of H2 when H2 leak is detected. We have much better technology now than we did 20 years ago.

Engineer-Poet

Twit P, soil cores showed that tsunamis far beyond the plant design basis were recurring events at the Fukushima Dai'ichi site.  The probability of one happening to that area was 1.0.  A proper response would have been to shut down the entire Dai'ichi complex until backups capable of withstanding the worst historic wave had been installed.

On the other hand, the Germans who shut their plants down due to tsunami threats are idiots.

ToppaTom

Soil cores after the event prove what? that the event really happened?

Meanwhile the California Energy Commission cancels dubious hydrogen fueling station grants for hydrogen fuel cell cars that are due to hit showrooms by 2017.

But they will resume ASAP so that the money is spent, before and in case they are not needed, or before better technology is available when/if there are a significant number of FCVs.


Are hydrogen fueling station so complex, compared to FCVs that the money should be spent now? Spent by politicians I might add. California politicians!

Roger Pham

@TT,
No matter who spend the money in building hydrogen fueling station, some people in California will be employed for the construction and maintenance, and the economy will improve as the result. Politicians have a public-mandated role of job creation...or they will be out of a job...Job creation is job #1 for politicians!

Engineer-Poet

TT, soil cores prove that waves higher than the one specced for Fukushima Dai'ichi's tsunami defenses had happened several times before.  It was known that those defenses were not adequate and needed improvement.

TEPCO obfuscated and denied that need, until it was too late to deny.  All that was really needed was a set of generators and fuel tanks that could withstand the wave that actually hit, and some changes to the plant wiring so that critical points would not be left underwater.  That would have prevented the meltdowns.

ToppaTom

@RP, Keeping their job is job #1 for politicians!

What should be their job, has little relevance.

It is idiotic to pay people to perform worthless tasks.

Even Obama knows that job creation at any cost, much as he might like it, will lose him votes.

"Obama Administration withdraws proposed rulemaking on strengthened ozone standards" GCC; 2 September 2011


Roger Pham

@TT,
Building and maintaining H2 stations are NOT worthless tasks. It's about building the future, a sustainable and clean future.
With major tweaks in modernizing the democratic institution by offering representation of the people in government in proportional amount to their tax contribution, democratic governments will be able to stay solvent and get a lot more things done. (The more tax you pay, the more you'll get to say!) Together with the switch to renewable energy, the future of humanity will look bright and will be sustainable.

If you're not convinced, please rent a copy of the movie "Idiocracy" by Mike Judge, (the same guy who produced the TV cartoon show "King of the Hill"), and see for yourself what the future of our democracy...uh really, our idiocracy, will look like!!! Nuff said!

Engineer-Poet

The question is whether H2 stations offer us the most "bang for the buck", and if they are a trap in terms of supplier lock-in.

Mr Red Rose120

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