New research consortia to develop technologies for hydrogen production

Two new research consortia, led by the US Department of Energy, are charged with exploring new methods and technologies for hydrogen production.

Hydrogen can effectively store excess electricity, to be harvested later via fuel cells. These consortia, named H2NEW and HydroGEN 2.0, were formed to discover new technologies for hydrogen production.

Idaho National Laboratory (INL) researcher Gary Groenewold, who is leading the lab’s involvement in the H2NEW consortium, said: “DOE has a strong interest in hydrogen generation. They’ve got technology they feel can be pushed from mid-range research to the pilot plant level.”

INL and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) will co-lead H2NEW, which will advance state-of-the-art technology for hydrogen production using low and high temperature electrolysis. The programme will conduct research, development, and demonstration of large-scale, affordable electrolysers — devices that use electricity to split water into oxygen and hydrogen.

HydroGEN 2.0, led by NREL, will focus on fundamental science questions by facilitating collaborations between national laboratories, academia, and industry.

Both consortia are funded by DOE’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office, within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Collectively, these efforts support EERE’s H2@Scale vision for affordable hydrogen production, distribution, storage, and utilisation across multiple applications.

INL is known for its expertise in solid oxide electrolysis cells (SOECs). In 2018, INL researcher Dong Ding and his colleagues demonstrated high-performance electrochemical hydrogen production at a lower temperature than seen before. In a paper published by the journal Advanced Science, Ding reported on a highly efficient proton-conducting solid oxide electrolysis cell (P-SOEC) that incorporates a 3D ceramic steam electrode. During testing, the cells operated below 600 degrees Celsius at a highly sustained rate for days.

In 2020, INL researcher Dong Ding led a team of INL researchers to pioneer a reversible electrochemical cell that efficiently converts excess electricity and water into hydrogen but also, when called for, can convert hydrogen back into electricity for the grid. The hydrogen can be used as fuel for heat, vehicles, or other applications.

INL is a Department of Energy national laboratory that performs work in each of the department’s strategic goal areas: energy, national security, science, and environment. INL is the nation’s centre for nuclear energy research and development. Day-to-day management and operation of the laboratory are the responsibility of Battelle Energy Alliance.

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