A Neat Way to Transport Hydrogen

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Well-known member
May 22, 2014
Nashua, NH USA
Saw this article today about research a company in Germany has been doing regarding making hydrogen easier to transport and use. The hassle still is that getting the elemental hydrogen is currently, not all that green, but IMHO, as solar, geothermal, wind, tidal power develops more, storing energy in hydrogen may make that one of the greener solutions. Anyway, this is an interesting development that would make fuel cells more available until or if gaseous sources are more readily available. Refilling a vehicle with hydrogen is quicker than any current battery can be recharged. It's just that there aren't that many places to do it! This could change that and could be viable if we had more green hydrogen to play with.
The overall transporting itself is the same logistical issue that current fossil fuels face . We need to consider , not only the carbon footprint of the fuel we use but also that of the fuel used to logistically deliver it . For fossil fuels that starts at the oil well , then the refineries burn some as well in their process , then delivery to your local station . The electricity grid , on the other hand already reaches almost everywhere .
Most places have both electricity and water, so it could be said that making hydrogen that way could be pretty universal, too. There's been a lot of progress in the electrodes and how pure the water needs to be to do electrolysis. That doesn't make sense today for most places, as it takes a fair amount of energy to do that, then compress the gas. But, if we harness more of the tidal, solar, wind energy, we could produce far more energy than we are using today, and because those processes are intermittent, storing it somehow to even out the supply would be required. Today, that's usually done with burning fossil fuels, but it doesn't have to be. We could burn hydrogen, or use it in a fuel cell to produce electricity.

Regardless, the research I linked to could make fuel cell vehicles a more viable commodity if you could get the needed hydrogen fuel easier. Time will tell. It's not going to happen overnight, and a new alternative may present itself that is better. One has to consider, though, that starting with water, and ending with water is pretty clean, but takes energy to produce, and less is recovered going back to water. Depends on how you get that energy to make the elemental hydrogen.
CanisLupus said:
The overall transporting itself is the same logistical issue that current fossil fuels face .
It's even worse with hydrogen due to its tiny molecular size and extremely low boiling point. It's difficult to store or transport without significant leakage. Storing or transporting it as a liquid that doesn't have such leakage problems requires cooling it to very low temperatures and compressing it to high pressure.
jadnashuanh said:
Saw this article today about research a company in Germany has been doing regarding making hydrogen easier to transport and use.
When I first read about this development a couple of days ago, I wondered how it was an improvement over the storage of hydrogen as powered metal hydrides which has been discussed for years. Problems with metal hydride storage include its significant weight, especially relative to the amount of hydrogen being stored, and the relatively low amount of hydrogen that can be stored as a metal hydride compared with compressed hydrogen gas. This recent development seems to be similar except that the metal hydrides are in a slurry rather than powder form. Doesn't seem like a big improvement over metal hydride powders. However, there isn't much detail in the article that I read, so maybe this is a big improvement.
Well, from a weight standpoint, an equal amount of available energy stored as hydrogen, is going to be way less than the equivalent in a battery. Storing hydrogen in a high pressure gaseous state still takes some volume, whereas storing the same amount in a slurry, along with the equipment to extract it, probably won't, and it's much easier to transport, so could be available more places. 2-3 pounds of hydrogen move an EV about 300-miles. A battery pack is going to likely be in the 700-800 pound range.

The hassle with any hydrogen is, most of it is not green (2-3% of supply), and unless you have an excess amount of energy available, it's nowhere near as efficient as storing it in batteries. It only makes sense if you have some renewable energy source, (tidal, solar, wind) that has an excess available that could be used to make hydrogen rather than turning those sources off, or throttling them down to keep the power distribution network intact. Some of those can produce lots of energy when the world sleeps. Today, they tend to just turn off the more expensive fossil fuel plants. We still need a buffer in case the green energy dips (a cloudy day, the wind dies down, for example), but batteries COULD be used for this, and Australia has built a pretty large demonstration plant for this by Tesla, and is expanding it after finding it worked for them.

If you make your H2 from natural gas, or do electrolysis from coal, oil, or natural gas powered plants, it's not all that green, and more of an impact than using that power to charge batteries, which don't lose that much and is generally available nearly everywhere in the industrialize world.

But, if and when we ever get into the situation where we can easily make more power than we need, storing it in hydrogen may make some sense. Tidal and wave energy goes on constantly, where wind and solar can be sporadic. Maybe if we figure out fusion reactors...we'll be swimming in excess power capacity, and more options will show up!

Recently read an article about using hydrogen in the steel making process rather than coke. You need something that can extract the oxygen in the iron oxide, and instead of making carbon dioxide in the process, a demonstration plant is doing it with hydrogen, making water in the process rather than CO2. Steel making produces about 8% of the CO2 annually, so is a significant factor if we ever want to get to a net zero situation. So, regardless, there will be continuing efforts to more efficiently make hydrogen...what we end up doing with it, is still up in the air, and making water is much better than CO2!