Vortex Energy Corp and the University of Alberta, a quest for the efficient storage of hydrogen has been initiated. The project is set to explore the potential of salt caverns, natural underground formations, for preserving hydrogen, an invaluable clean energy source.
The investment from Vortex Energy, totaling $300,000, will enable the research team at the University to embark on the first field trial of hydrogen storage in domal salt in Canada. The ambitious collaboration is slated to continue for two years and may hold the key to addressing one of the significant challenges in the hydrogen industry – storage.
Hydrogen is a clean and versatile energy source, but its lightweight nature makes it challenging to store efficiently. It can easily escape containment, making it less viable for long-term storage or for addressing seasonal energy demands. Hydrogen storage is a pivotal issue that must be resolved for a more widespread and practical use of this clean energy source.
Salt caverns have emerged as a promising solution to the hydrogen storage conundrum. These caverns, formed naturally by salt deposits deep underground, have demonstrated the capability to retain hydrogen gas over extended periods. They offer a unique and potentially ideal solution for preserving hydrogen until it is needed.
The process involves creating caverns in salt domes by drilling into them and injecting water to dissolve the salt. The resulting brine is then removed, leaving behind a substantial cavity. Renewable energy-driven hydrogen electrolyzers can convert water into hydrogen, which can be safely stored within these caverns. When energy demand arises, this stored hydrogen can be efficiently reconverted into electricity, making it suitable for both long-term and seasonal storage needs.
Vortex Energy Corp is at the forefront of exploring this innovative storage solution. Their Robinson River Salt Project, which hosts two of the largest salt caverns discovered in Atlantic Canada, holds immense potential for hydrogen storage. These salt structures are estimated to house a minimum of 800,000 tonnes of hydrogen within over 60 caverns. The company aims to commence drilling at the project later this November and will then re-evaluate further development and potential field trial application.
The University of Alberta research team will play a crucial role in this venture. Over the next two years, they will undertake proof-of-concept experiments on core samples to design and implement the first field trial of hydrogen storage in domal salt in Canada. This multi-phased approach includes optimizing the depth interval of proposed storage caverns, assessing potential hydrogen loss through cavern walls, evaluating hydrogen contamination, and analyzing the mechanical stability of the caverns.
Clean hydrogen’s importance in decarbonizing industries is undeniable. Yet, the issue of storage looms large. As the utilization of hydrogen continues to grow, efficient and scalable storage solutions become imperative. Hydrogen storage in salt caverns presents a substantial market, with advantages encompassing reliability, flexibility, safety, and minimal environmental footprint.
The success of this collaborative endeavor could pave the way for enhanced hydrogen storage capabilities, not only in Canada but potentially worldwide. This innovation has the potential to contribute significantly to the growth and sustainability of the hydrogen economy.