Hydrogen Generation Systems for Material Processing

Space that can be spared for hydrogen gas supplies is a concern for both large and small laboratories. For a small laboratory, the problems are clear. Nonetheless, larger labs must consider the footprint of a gas generator to ensure the efficient operation.

Need for a Big Hydrogen Generator at LyondellBasell Facility

LyondellBasell has a 22,000-square-foot facility in Pasadena, Texas, which houses a 14,000-square-foot quality assurance lab. The laboratory runs 50 Gas Chromatographs, all of which at one time or another require as high as 15SLPM of hydrogen gas to operate. Roger Harris, senior lab specialist at LyondellBasell, informed that although the facility is big, the company must balance its needs with its space requirements.

A large amount of hydrogen gas is required to operate such a big laboratory comprising many different GC systems to test various materials. Hence, a hydrogen gas generator is essential to provide carrier gas for the GC systems as well as fuel to the lab’s Flame Ionization Detectors. The laboratory employed a larger older technology gas generator for nearly 16 years. Harris said that the old generator with a big footprint had operated for a long time prior to the manufacturer stopped supporting that model.

After the old larger generator became unfit for production, Harris had to make a decision on whether to go with a delivered option or for on-site generation. Considering safety concerns and the availability of space, Harris opted for on-site generation. The majority of on-site hydrogen generation systems for laboratory purposes is comparatively small in terms of footprint and capacity and would occupy valuable bench space if Harris had to procure the 20 small generators required to satisfy his needs.

Hence, Harris started research to look for a new hydrogen gas ‘lab server’ with a capacity same to the last model used by the lab. Another LyondellBasell facility had deployed a Nel Hydrogen S-Series gas generator. Harris impressed with the performance of this gas generator and ordered one for his laboratory. The smaller footprint of the new generator with a size one-third of the old generator saves the lab valuable bench space. Moreover, the need to install a bulk gas system is avoided, thereby eliminating the associated safety risks.

S Series Hydrogen Generation Systems

Figure 1.  S Series hydrogen generation system.

Nel Hydrogen’s S Series hydrogen generation systems (Figure 1) generate up to 1.05 Nm3/hr (40 scf/hr) of hydrogen gas with ultra high purity for applications, including power plant generator cooling, material processing, Gas Chromatography carrier and FID gas. A single S40 hydrogen generator is capable of providing high purity hydrogen adequate to fulfill carrier and FID requirements for up 60 GCs.

With a production rate of 10, 20 or 40 scf/hour, the S Series hydrogen generators can produce the equivalent of up to four cylinders of better-than-UHP grade hydrogen daily. These on-site hydrogen generation systems help many industries eliminate expenses pertaining to delivery and use of hydrogen. Nel Hydrogen has supplied thousands of  hydrogen generator systems to customers in meteorological balloon filling, Gas Chromatography, electronics/semiconductor fabrication, materials processing, electric power generator cooling, and for fuel cell development and H2 fueling systems.


The Nel Hydrogen S Series generator is capable of producing up to 18 SLPM of hydrogen, but the lab requires 11-15 SLPM of gas to run its 50 GC systems. Hence, the lab certainly has room to grow, concluded Harris.



This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Nel Hydrogen.

For more information on this source, please visit Nel Hydrogen.


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