HOLY GRAIL: LONG-TERM, AFFORDABLE ENERGY STORAGE
Conventional hydrogen fuel cell vehicles store their hydrogen as a highly compressed gas, at about 2,000 psi. It takes energy to compress the gas, it requires its own dedicated infrastructure, such as building compressed-gas refuelling stations and transporting hydrogen which is inflammable.
One major emerging technology to store hydrogen, is as weakly bonded to metals as “hydrides,” in an inert, non-pressurized (~200 psi) liquid solution. These technologies of hydride hydrogen storage have been developed in Germany, China and NSW University for car/bike fuel cells.
The need for hydrogen will elicit innovation. The challenge with hydrides has been twofold: a) creating a bond weak enough to be broken without undue energy when the hydrogen needs to be released, and b) increasing the energy density of the resulting fluid. Emerging technologies are rapidly overcoming these obstacles.
Our utopian vision is that eventually every home and business will have an HG hydroxy electrolyzer and a full tank of bonded hydrogen, which could be used either to generate electricity for the building via a fuel cell, providing hydrogen for its industrial process (steel/cement/coal) or to fuel hydrogen vehicles. Power comes in (from solar panels or wind turbines, ideally) to run the electrolyzer. The hydrogen produced either goes into a fuel cell or is bonded as hydrides and stored in a tank. When power is needed, the hydride bonds are broken (sometimes using waste heat from a system), freeing more hydrogen for the fuel cell. Most hydrogen storage uses huge electrolyzers and fuel cells, which cannot precisely scale energy production to demand. Eco Global contains stacks of HG electrolyzers and fuel cells, adjusting efficiently which can be brought online, one at a time as demand increases.
Eco Global will launch into energy storage, as on-site storage for homes and businesses or as grid-scale storage attached to large solar and wind farms. The vision behind hydrogen energy storage is that, someday soon, there will be regular periods when wind and solar are generating electricity well in excess of demand. That surplus energy will be inexpensive – in fact, we’ll be looking for ways not to waste it. The idea is “power to gas,” i.e., converting that surplus energy to hydrogen and storing it. Hydrogen is probably the simplest thing you can make when renewable electricity prices become democratized. For fertilizer production, green ammonia is already becoming cost effective, and we intend Eco Global to be involved with that trend.
Some of that hydrogen could be injected into existing natural gas pipelines, reducing the carbon intensity of gas. Some could be combined with carbon dioxide to create other liquid fuels. And some of it could be converted directly back to energy with fuel cells.
As momentum toward a sustainable energy system builds in earnest, the need for hydrogen will only grow more acute. We need zero-carbon fuels and we need long-term energy storage. Hydrogen fits both bills.
Green Hydrogen is considered to be one of the cleanest fuels for both transport and power generation. The cost reduction in hydrogen production, storage, transmission, distribution, and application has become important area of global shift for regulators, investors and consumers.