Published on Feb 28, 2024
The use of hydrogen as an energy carrier could help address our concerns about energy security, global climate change, and air quality. Fuel cells are an important enabling technology for the Hydrogen Future and have the potential to revolutionize the way we power our nation, offering cleaner, more-efficient alternatives to the combustion of gasoline and other fossil fuels
For over 45 years, GTI has been active in Hydrogen Energy research, development, and demonstration (RD&D). The Institute has extensive experience and on-going work in all aspects of the hydrogen energy economy, including production, delivery, infrastructure, use, safety, and public policy. In this presentation, I will discuss the recent GTI programs in details, mainly; hydrogen production, hydrogen storage, and proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFC) and solid oxide fuel cells.
A hydrogen vehicle is a vehicle that uses hydrogen as its onboard fuel for motive power. Hydrogen vehicles include hydrogen fueled space rockets, as well as automobiles and other transportation vehicles. The power plants of such vehicles convert the chemical energy of hydrogen to mechanical energy either by burning hydrogen in an internal combustion engine, or by reacting hydrogen with oxygen in a fuel cell to run electric motors. Widespread use of hydrogen for fueling transportation is a key element of a proposed hydrogen economy.
Hydrogen fuel does not occur naturally on Earth and thus is not an energy source, but is an energy carrier. Currently it is most frequently made from methane or other fossil fuels. However, it can be produced from a wide range of sources (such as wind, solar, or nuclear) that are intermittent, too diffuse or too cumbersome to directly propel vehicles. Integrated wind-to-hydrogen plants, using electrolysis of water, are exploring technologies to deliver costs low enough, and quantities great enough, to compete with traditional energy sources.
Many companies are working to develop technologies that might efficiently exploit the potential of hydrogen energy for mobile uses. The attraction of using hydrogen as an energy currency is that, if hydrogen is prepared without using fossil fuel inputs, vehicle propulsion would not contribute to carbon dioxide emissions. The drawbacks of hydrogen use are low energy content per unit volume, high tankage weights, very high storage vessel pressures, the storage, transportation and filling of gaseous or liquid hydrogen in vehicles, the large investment in infrastructure that would be required to fuel vehicles, and the inefficiency of production processes.
The hydrogen infrastructure consists mainly of industrial hydrogen pipeline transport and hydrogen-equipped filling stations like those found on a hydrogen highway. Hydrogen stations which are not situated near a hydrogen pipeline can obtain supply via hydrogen tanks, compressed hydrogen tube trailers, liquid hydrogen tank trucks or dedicated onsite production.
Hydrogen use would require the alteration of industry and transport on a scale never seen before in history. For example, according to GM, 70% of the U.S. population lives near a hydrogen-generating facility but has little access to hydrogen, despite its wide availability for commercial use. The distribution of hydrogen fuel for vehicles throughout the U.S. would require new hydrogen stations costing, by some estimates, 20 billion dollars. and 4.6 billion in the EU. Other estimates place the cost as high as half trillion dollars in the United States alone.
The California Hydrogen Highway is an initiative to build a series of hydrogen refueling stations along that state. These stations are used to refuel hydrogen vehicles such as fuel cell vehicles and hydrogen combustion vehicles. As of March 2011, the California Fuel Cell Partnership showed 20 stations in operation, with eight more planned. These are located mostly in and around Los Angeles, with a few in the Bay area South Carolina also has a hydrogen freeway project, and the first two hydrogen fueling stations opened in 2009 in Aiken and Columbia, South Carolina. According to the South Carolina Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Alliance, the Columbia station has a current capacity of 120 kg a day, with future plans to develop on-site hydrogen production from electrolysis and reformation. The Aiken station has a current capacity of 80 kg. There are several funding projects for Hydrogen fuel cell research and infrastructure in South Carolina. The University of South Carolina, a founding member of the South Carolina Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Alliance, received 12.5 million dollars from the Department of Energy for its Future Fuels Program.
Codes and standards
Hydrogen codes and standards, as well as codes and technical standards for hydrogen safety and the storage of hydrogen, have been identified as an institutional barrier to deploying hydrogen technologies and developing a hydrogen economy. To enable the commercialization of hydrogen in consumer products, new codes and standards must be developed and adopted by federal, state and local governments.
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