On-Site Hydrogen Production Technology Accelerates to Market

June 6, 2021 |

In Washington, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory developed a new technology that generates hydrogen from conventional natural gas, or renewable natural gas made from biomass, that could be the next big thing to advance California’s Hydrogen Highway, fuel cell vehicles and trucks and to create other valuable products.

Tiny channels—about the width of a credit card—that transfer heat underpin the technology developed at PNNL. These microchannels are critical to efficiently driving the energy into the chemical reactions that produce hydrogen for transportation, electricity generation and other industrial purposes.

The PNNL-developed hydrogen generator was licensed to a Richland, Wash. cleantech start-up company, STARS Technology Corporation. The hydrogen generator features two recent innovations that may drive down the cost of hydrogen. The first is a new additive manufacturing process that has been licensed to both STARS TC and SoCalGas—a Los Angeles-based gas distribution utility that serves 22 million people in Central and Southern California.  The second is a novel spiral reactor design that distributes heat more precisely and improves the reactor efficiency. This design, exclusively licensed to SoCalGas, minimizes the energy required to produce hydrogen while increasing the reactor’s durability and safety.

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Category: Research

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