Editor’s note: This article may be of interest to wind power advocates because hydrogen will most likely be generated by electrolysis, a process that will easily make use of wind generated power. The great advantage of hydrogen-powered vehicles is that they can refuel in reasonably short periods, three minutes according the article here. Although batteries are improving and electric vehicles seem to have a head start in the transportation market, hydrogen can be used other places as well, such as industrial processes, and powering trucks and tractors.
The automotive industry definitely sees a future in hydrogen as a promising alternative fuel. A few manufacturers such as Toyota and Hyundai have introduced their first ‘hydrogen cars’. Up till now only a few trucks, delivery vans, buses and passenger cars in the Netherlands have been powered by hydrogen, but use of the fuel is expected to expand with more passenger cars in the coming years. Several companies in the Netherlands that want to facilitate this development are working on fuel cells and the production, storage, and distribution of hydrogen. Netherlands based Teesing has already devoted several years to optimizing the critical processes so that ‘driving on hydrogen’ will be practical and sustainable.
In the future, acceptance of hydrogen vehicles into our society will depend partly on the critical issue of ease-of-use for the public and familiarity with this ‘new’ type of energy. A human characteristic is to change habits when things become cheaper, faster, more efficient, safer, or more sustainable. Teesing recently finished the PusH project, in which we successfully filled cylinders fast and efficiently with hydrogen at 700 bar.
Why 700 bar? Hydrogen has a lower energy content than natural gas, which means that the same volume contains less energy, one-third that of natural gas to be precise. Refuelling hydrogen at a higher pressure (700 bar or about 10,000 psi) supplies enough energy to give a hydrogen car a respectable range. The hydrogen cylinder will have to be filled to 700 bar within 3 minutes, because most consumers will not wait longer than that at the filling station.
Of course, there are problems. The crux is that when filling hydrogen gas at high speed, the gas expands when it becomes hot. Currently the solution for this problem is to pre-cool the hydrogen gas, but this inefficient method results in unnecessary loss of energy.
The Teesing solution for 700 bar is a system counteracts the expansion. The cylinder is first filled with water at a pressure of 700 bar, after which the water is displaced by introducing hydrogen gas at the pressure. Prototypes have been tested successfully and a patent has been issued for the PusH principle.
Hence, no expansion, no heating, less energy loss and it is still possible to fill up fuel cell vehicles quickly up to 700 bar. The method has the additional advantage that no extra action is required to moisten the hydrogen. Fuel cells function more efficiently if the hydrogen has been moistened.
Teesing wants to follow up the commercial feasibility of this system. The company is considering a demonstration project by means of a subsidy or investment, in which the Tongji University, Shanghai, China can continue its involvement.
Project partners include:
- Tongji University Shanghai, China
- WEH, Hydrogen refuelling components, Germany
- Itensify, High pressure & Flow control systems, Netherlands
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