Plug Power and HyGear partner to provide small-scale SMR hydrogen production technology to fuel cell system customers
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.
In the process, steam produced from waste heat is added to desulfurized methane or biogas and introduced into the reformer. The heat and catalytic properties of the reformer cause the following reaction:
CH4 + H2O ⇄ 3H2 + CO
The remaining carbon monoxide is then converted in the Water Gas Shift assembly (WGS) to produce more hydrogen:
CO + H2O → CO2 + H2
The gases then enter Pressure Swing Adsorption units (PSA) where the hydrogen is separated from other gaseous species under elevated pressure using differences in adsorption properties. The cleaned hydrogen is then stored in the buffer vessel.
HyGear uses vacuum PSA technology. This is more energy and cost efficient than traditional gas separation systems, HyGear says. The PSA consists of four parallel active vessels, enabling a continuous cleaning process.
Re-using the waste gases and waste heat of the process optimizes the energy efficiency; no external fuel gases are needed for the reform reaction and steam generation. The off-gas from the PSA is used as input for the burner that provides heat for the reforming reaction. The residual heat is used for generating steam, which is mixed with natural gas for the steam reforming process.
Inside the Hy.Gear SMR unit. Click to enlarge.
Decentralized hydrogen production offers a safer, more reliable and cost-effective alternative to conventional hydrogen supply by tube trailers or electrolyzers and lowers the environmental impact, the partners suggested.
The partnership with HyGear is part of Plug Power’s long-term goal of making hydrogen a cost-effective and ubiquitous fuel. HyGear’s reformer solution allows Plug Power to address a more diverse set of customers including small material handling fleets and a broader base of tethered fleet vehicles.
Plug Power will offer HyGear’s Hy.GEN reformer technology as an option under its GenFuel platform to material handling and stationary power customers worldwide.