Research and Development to Enable Hydrogen at Scale | AIChE

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Research and Development to Enable Hydrogen at Scale

August
2019

The Dept. of Energy’s H2@Scale initiative promotes the development, growth, and implementation of technologies based on hydrogen’s versatility.

Hydrogen technologies are rapidly entering the market in a variety of applications worldwide. Today, thousands of hydrogen fuel cell systems are in service — including in forklifts used in warehouses, commercial vehicles on the roads, and stationary or backup power systems — providing clean and reliable power. Hydrogen is also increasingly being used to store energy generated by intermittent renewable sources such as solar or wind, and used as a feedstock for industrial processes. These applications are receiving increased attention as key components of the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s (DOE) H2@Scale initiative (www.energy.gov/eere/fuelcells/h2scale).

The DOE’s national laboratories coined the term H2@Scale to describe the large-scale production, delivery, storage, and utilization of hydrogen across sectors and applications. Through the DOE’s national labs, which house unprecedented capabilities and expertise — including more than 50 Nobel Prize winners — a team of leading researchers along with the DOE’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) developed the H2@Scale concept to articulate hydrogen’s potential in helping to achieve energy security, resiliency, and environmental and economic benefits for the nation.

Achieving economies of scale can reduce costs, foster the development of a hydrogen infrastructure (including the required supply chain, and codes and standards), and accelerate acceptance by users and the public. The key to achieving such scale is diversifying and increasing the use of hydrogen across multiple sectors and applications. In principle, this should not be difficult, because hydrogen can be used as a fuel or commodity chemical feedstock, an energy carrier, or an energy storage medium. It is one of the most versatile chemicals and is essential in the synthesis of numerous industrial products, such as ammonia, plastics, and pharmaceuticals. (Editor’s note: See pp. 47–53 for more on hydrogen’s role in ammonia production.)

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