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Linde starts small-series production for hydrogen fueling stations; agreement with Iwatani for delivery of 28 units

In Vienna, the Linde Group officially opened the first small-series production facility for hydrogen fueling stations. Linde extensively modernized and expanded the Vienna Application Centre specifically for this project. A number of hydrogen fueling innovations have originated from this research and development hub in Vienna in recent years, including Linde’s energy-efficient, compact ionic compressor, the IC 90. (Earlier post.)

Highlights of the new small-series production concept include a high degree of standardization across all components, which are installed in a compact 14-foot container for ease of transport and integration in existing fueling stations.

The expansion of production capacity in Vienna to 50 units a year dovetails with the introduction of the first series-produced fuel-cell cars by leading manufacturers such as Hyundai, Toyota, Honda and Daimler between 2014 and 2017.

The successful commercialization of fuel-cell cars hinges on a sufficiently widespread hydrogen infrastructure. The development of small-series production capabilities is a key milestone on this journey. It gives us the flexibility we need to meet rising demand in different markets. Our standard agreement with Iwatani shows that we are on the right path along with our partners.

—Professor Dr Aldo Belloni, member of the Executive Board of Linde AG

Linde and Iwatani Corporation have closed a deal for the delivery of 28 hydrogen fueling stations with ionic compressors. The first of these units went on stream today in Amagasaki near Osaka, Japan.

Iwatani would like to contribute to the development of Japan’s hydrogen energy infrastructure by building on highly advanced ionic compressor technology from Linde.

—Akiji Makino, CEO of Iwatani Corporation

Unlike conventional piston-operated compressors, Linde’s IC 90 works with liquid salts—i.e., conventional metal pistons are replaced by a specially designed, nearly incompressible ionic liquid.

The gas is compressed in the cylinder by the up-and-down motion of the liquid column, similar to the reciprocating motion of an ordinary piston. Because the hydrogen is compressed at an almost isothermal temperature, ionic compressors are considerably more efficient than conventional compressors. The compressor can also be used with liquid hydrogen. The liquid is simply vaporized and then compressed.

Because these ionic liquids do not have a vapor pressure, they do not evaporate or mix with the hydrogen gas. They also eliminate mechanical wear-and-tear and sealing problems inside the cylinders.

Equipped with a safety system and remote diagnosis and maintenance capabilities, the IC 90 meets all fueling standards to ensure safe, silent fueling and can achieve a pressure of 1,000 bar (14,500 psi) if required.



Hurray-up hydrogen, yeah, we need it bad to decrease the earth temperature. If we continu with co2 expel the ocean will rise covering many city lands, we may get extinguish. Anyway the real reason is that I need a cheaper fuel then gasoline and if it happen to be non-polluting, then it's a plus.

This seems like clever engineering. Does anyone know how the ionic liquid pistons are made to move up and down?

Where's Henry Gibson? Henry would know. ;-)


How do these pistons move? Interesting question. Hydrogen has what is called a reverse Joule-Thompson effect, meaning that as it expands out of a tank into a cylinder, it heats up! The ionic salts probably play a great role in transferring the heat, and therefore managing the pressure upon the filling of the car's fuel tank. With enough planning you might even turn the setup into a Sterling Engine. The faster moving molecules would tend to hit the walls of the piston more than the slower ones, and make the heat conservation and transfer doable and -- well, you can figure that out.


"Maintenance needs are greatly reduced: The only place where conventional parts are put to work is in the pump that shifts the liquid back and forth between two cylinders to move the liquid column up and down; while uncompressed gas is being drawn into one cylinder, the gas in the other cylinder is compressed by the communicating cylinder."

Good link, SJC, thanks for posting. The article doesn't go into any detail on how the liquid is shifted back and forth. It mentions a pump, but the reference to doing away with "seals and bearings" and overall small part count would seem to indicate that the pump is unconventional also. Perhaps a linear actuator piston with a chamber on each end?

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