New hydrogen compressor changes urban hydrogen charging

Through collaborative research with Chung-Ang University, the Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials has been successful in developing an electrochemical hydrogen compressor that compresses hydrogen using an electrochemical reaction.

It is anticipated to be a ground-breaking technological advancement for reviving the hydrogen society.

The joint research team, led by professors Kim Dong-gyu and Yoon Seok-ho of the Carbon Neutral Machinery Research Institute and Kim Min-seong of Chung-Ang University, uses the properties of fuel cells that produce electricity from hydrogen in reverse and extracts only hydrogen by applying an electric current to the separator used in the fuel cell. successfully created a compressor for hydrogen.

Hydrogen builds up and is crushed at the device’s back as hydrogen continually travels through it during an electrochemical process. The study team increased compression efficiency by reducing energy loss through internal surface treatment and developed the internal structure of the device to sustain high pressure during hydrogen compression.

Before sending hydrogen to the hydrogen filling station, hydrogen must be compressed by a hydrogen compressor at a pressure higher than that since hydrogen must be compressed at a pressure of 700 atm in order to store hydrogen in a hydrogen car. The pressure in the storage tank at the hydrogen charging station decreases when hydrogen is charged, hence waiting is necessary to raise the pressure. Waiting times can be decreased with the use of quick and effective hydrogen compression technology, which is crucial for creating a hydrogen supply chain.

The drawback of current mechanical compressors, which use a variety of physical techniques, including the piston method, is their unpredictable durability and poor efficiency. Improvement is required since noise is produced and hydrogen can be contaminated, for example by mixing the lubricants used in the compression process.

On the other side, 99.99% of hydrogen can be collected and compressed at high pressure without contamination if an electrochemical compressor is employed, which also conducts hydrogen purification and compression. In order to collect and compress hydrogen to a specific scale, the compressor can also be extended.

This hydrogen compressor may be used even in small locations thanks to its small size. The size restriction of the high-pressure compressor is causing problems with a recent attempt to establish a hydrogen charging station alongside an LPG charging station. The space problem is anticipated to be resolved by using an electrochemical compressor.

It also has advantages in terms of space and tranquillity, which makes it a great location for hydrogen filling stations to be built in the middle of the city. A small-scale compression system can be erected any place hydrogen compression is required, even if it isn’t a hydrogen filling station. It can also be used to build the lately popular urban energy-zero home.

The electrochemical hydrogen compressor has a huge advantage over current mechanical compressors in that it has superior space efficiency and minimal noise, according to Director Yoon Seok-ho of the Machinery Research Institute’s Thermal Energy Solution Research Department.

The development of a chemical adsorption heat pump employing an electrochemical compressor is an alchymist project sponsored by the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy that helped fund this research.