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Engineering challenge provides pathway toward global hydrogen supply chain

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Several public, private, and academic organizations are working together to pave the way for large-scale liquid hydrogen (LH2) storage for international trade applications.

Shell is leading the charge in this effort. This is a relatively unexplored sector with the potential to accelerate the worldwide commercialization of hydrogen as a readily available, reasonably priced, and low-carbon energy commodity with significant promise.

The Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office of the United States Department of Energy (DOE) has selected Shell and the consortium partners, which include McDermott’s CB&I Storage Solutions, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, GenH2 and the University of Houston, to demonstrate that a large-scale LH2 tank, with a capacity ranging from 20,000 to 100,000 cubic meters, is both feasible and cost competitive at import and export terminals. For the project’s financing, the Department of Energy has allocated $6 million, while Shell and CB&I Storage Solutions will each contribute an additional $3 million, for a total project fund of $12 million.

According to Yuri Sebregts, Shell’s Chief Technology Officer, “a cost-effective, long-range hydrogen supply chain has the potential to have a transformational influence on defining a sustainable future in the energy sector.” “As a result, the members of our consortium understand that this initiative has the potential to be a cornerstone in making that future a reality. It’s a significant engineering challenge, but we have the appropriate people, partners, and attitude to deliver this groundbreaking LH2 storage technology, which is the first of its kind.”

In order to meet growing demand, McDermott is leveraging the sixty years of LH2 storage technology expertise of its CB&I Storage Solutions business to exponentially scale up safe capacity thresholds. “This is a significant step forward for McDermott,” said Samik Mukherjee, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, McDermott International. “As we work together to create the next generation of sustainable energy, our consortium will help us drive that momentum even further.”

For the large-scale LH2 storage tank, the consortium will work together to produce an innovative and economically viable concept design that is both technically and economically feasible to build. Additionally, the group will design and build a scaled-down demonstration tank, which will be evaluated to see whether the design and thermal model are viable for use in a commercial-scale design.

The company’s founder and CEO, Cody Bateman, stated, “GenH2 is focused on establishing efficient manufacturing capabilities and repeatable processes in order to mass produce standard solutions for hydrogen production, liquefaction, storage, and transfer.” GenH2 is a leader in liquid hydrogen infrastructure and is headquartered in San Diego. ‘We’re thrilled to be a member of this collaboration, which is showing the feasibility of LH2 storage technologies that will aid in the transition to a carbon-free energy future,’ said a spokesperson.

In a statement, NASA’s principal investigator for the Cryogenics Test Laboratory, Adam Swanger, said, “The Cryogenics Test Laboratory at Kennedy uses its experience supporting space exploration to provide cryogenic services for government and industry partners, cryogenic expertise and experimental testing, as well as technical standards for energy-efficient cryogenics on Earth and in space.” In addition, Kennedy has the biggest liquid hydrogen storage tanks in the world, which makes us delighted to be able to contribute our years of expertise working with liquid hydrogen and liquid nitrogen to this project.

In order to promote the United States as a worldwide energy leader in LH2-based international supply chain development and to allow the commercialization of both blue and green hydrogen export prospects, this project will conduct research and development. The insulating technique, cryogenic testing equipment, and thermal model developed as part of this initiative are intended to be of general use in a variety of LH2 applications, including nuclear power.

In a statement, Vemuri Balakotaiah, Ph.D., an associate professor in the William A. Brookshire Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Houston and the Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished University Chair, said, “It is an honor for me to represent the University of Houston on this project.” In collaboration with other consortium businesses, I am looking forward to working with students and postdoctoral fellows from the University of Houston on the development of appropriate insulation and thermal models for commercial-scale liquid hydrogen tanks.

Arnes Biogradlija
Creative Content Director at EnergyNews.Biz

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