Posted in | Clean Technology | Fuel Cell

Technical Reference on Hydrogen Compatibility of Materials Makes Debut on OpenEI

As part of the Open Government initiative launched by the Obama administration, Sandia National Laboratories’ Technical Reference on Hydrogen Compatibility of Materials has made its debut on the Energy Dataset of OpenEnergyInfo, or OpenEI.

Many in the industry working to increase the competitiveness of clean hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) already consult the reference guide, which has been available on Sandia’s web page for several years. But, now, the information found in the publication is more widely available and easier to access.

“The Technical Reference is a valuable tool for the hydrogen delivery and storage industries,” said Sunita Satyapal, director of the Fuel Cell Technologies Office, the Department of Energy (DOE) office that has sponsored Sandia’s work on the Technical Reference. “It can help eliminate R&D redundancies by providing extensive compatibility data to the broader industry. By sharing these crucial findings on OpenEI, the Technical Reference can increase the rate of progress towards overcoming the barriers of hydrogen delivery and storage and allow us to reach full commercialization of FCEVs sooner.”

The Technical Reference focuses on compatibility issues between hydrogen and other materials. Due to their small size, hydrogen molecules can seep into materials at room temperature. This high rate of diffusion can promote embrittlement in some of those materials and some materials can be downselected depending on the application and conditions.

To help overcome this challenge, the Technical Reference provides detailed information of the effects of hydrogen on the materials that might be used in equipment for storing hydrogen and delivering it to fuel cell electric vehicles. Developed and updated by researchers at Sandia, the Technical Reference consolidates results of extensive review of reports and journal publications, as well as new research conducted by Sandia, on a range of compatibility issues that must be addressed to increase the cost-effectiveness and ease-of-use of hydrogen vehicles and their infrastructure.

Browsing the reference reveals the extent and depth of detail available. Concentrating on relatively low-cost and high-strength materials — including a variety of steel, aluminum, copper and nickel alloys, as well as non-metal polymers — the report provides data on potential high-priority impacts of hydrogen on such material properties as yield and tensile strengths, fracture toughness and fatigue crack growth rates.

“The reviewed and tested data in the Technical Reference can help industry target and develop components and systems with fewer hydrogen compatibility issues,” said Sandia researcher Brian Somerday, who, along with Sandia colleague Chris San Marchi was a principal developer of the report. “This could potentially accelerate the timetable for the hydrogen-fueled transportation system.”



  1. Bob Wallace Bob Wallace United States says:

    “This could potentially accelerate the timetable for the hydrogen-fueled transportation system.”

    Aside from the materials issue, have you considered the economics of a hydrogen-fueled transportation system?

    First, let's set aside hydrogen from natural gas.  That's a road to perdition.

    Then, what's left is hydrogen obtained by using renewable electricity (our cheapest source of energy) to crack water.  The process of separating hydrogen from the water molecule, compressing and distributing is energy lossy.  By one accounting if we start with 100 kWh of renewable electricity only 27 kWh actually makes it 'to the road'.

    Put that in the context that with an EV out of the original 100 kWh about 69 kwh end up moving the vehicle.

    The energy input per mile cost would be 1.9x higher for a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.

    Then there is the infrastructure cost.  Were we to move to a hydrogen fuel system we would essentially have to build new infrastructure equivalent to all the refineries and gas stations we are using today.  The cost of that infrastructure would be enormous and would be reflected in the cost of the hydrogen fuel.  That would double, triple, ? the 1.9x.

    There's no reason to think that EV batteries won't increase in capacity 2x to 3x in the next few years.  All we need for our driving is an EV with about a 180 mile range, < 20 minute 90% recharging, and an adequate number of rapid charge points along our main travel corridors.  Drive 180, charge, drive 160, charge, drive 160.  Over 500 miles with two modest stops.  (Gotta pee and eat anyway.)

    The high purchase of EVs is due to low manufacturing volume.  Efficiencies and economy of scale will kick in as numbers increase.  It's already happening.  There's no reason to believe that a FCEV would sell for less than an EV.

    Why would someone purchase a FCEV rather than an EV when fueling the FCEV would cost 4x, 5x the cost of charging the EV?

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