B.C. startup is developing unique technology for cheaper hydrogen storage systemsOctober 7, 2019
Hydrogen in Motion is working on tackling one of biggest challenges in the hydrogen fuel industry.
Grace Quan, the CEO of British Columbia, Canada-based startup, Hydrogen in Motion, a company that is developing hydrogen storage systems, says that storing hydrogen is one of the biggest challenges holding up the growth of the hydrogen economy.
It is expensive to store and transport hydrogen.
While scientists are researching more affordable ways to produce hydrogen and to do so cleanly with renewable sources, costly, bulky and heavy hydrogen storage systems have been another costly hurdle that has held up the progression of this clean fuel technology.
“As soon as I looked to see what was holding up the hydrogen economy, it was right there: hydrogen storage,” Quan, who is also the co-founder of Hydrogen in Motion (H2M), said, reports the Vancouver Sun.
“What nobody was looking at in 2012 was how to move it. As a pressurized gas it makes no sense.”
It takes an incredible amount of pressure to compress hydrogen, approximately 10,000 pounds per square inch. This means the tanks must be exceptionally heavy and dense to store it.
“That makes it expensive to store and expensive to transport,” Quan explained. “The tanks you might put in your car would cost around $5,000. What does a gas tank cost, $200? You can’t sell a $30,000 car if the fuel tank alone costs $5,000.”
On top of that, hydrogen often “boils off” at a rate of nearly 1% a day, which means consumers have to deal with constant fuel loss.
Hydrogen in Motion has devised a unique and sensible hydrogen storage system.
H2M has created a nano-material that functions like a sponge, allowing it to absorb hydrogen for easy storage at a relatively low pressure. Once the pressure is released, the hydrogen simply flows out.
The company is only emerging from the research and development phase of its technology. The next step of the process is to construct a lab in Burnaby to scale up the technology.
Quan said that there is a lot of interest in H2M’s hydrogen storage system technology. However, the company has only just reached the process of raising funds for the prototype plant. From there, they will then require funding for a large-scale plant.
Store it as water. React with nanogalvanic aluminum powder on demand. Problem solved.
Get the legislators off their collective duffs and force the NatGas industry to open up their NatGas system to H2 blending, just like the Electrical Utilities have had to wheel power for others. Our own NREL says that up to 15% blends require no equipment changes of the end users and have minimal transport losses in existing pipelines.
The only reason to store pure H2 is either automotive use or you’re fueling a rocket. The auto folks have all ready worked out useful solutions on their own; look at the Toyota Mirai & Honda Clarity for just two examples. Let’s quit fumbling around and get to it. P2G is the easiest thing to do – produce H2 with off-peak PV & wind energy, then store that energy as H2/NatGas blends in the existing NatGas transport & storage system. Return the stored energy to electricity by combusting it in the existing gas-fired generation hardware we’ve already paid for. If you need pure H2 for auto use, electrolyze locally or use semi-permeable membrane tech to filter out the H2 from the NatGas on site. All of this tech already exists & is only a phone call away. Get the checkbook out and let’s move on into the “Star Trek” future we keep hearing about. Blending for P2G is a great step towards the “zero carbon” goal.
It’s eminently doable, cheap, & way better that waiting for industry to “solve” the problem by creating H2 from “reforming” NatGas. The P2G “round trip” is about 40%, but there are no “fuel costs”, only hardware O&M. Very low on PV and reasonable for new wind turbines. If off peak MW rates are $5-$20 and peak rates are $80-$250, there shouldn’t be a problem getting buy in.