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Research Highlight | Advanced Energy Technologies

Enabling emerging hydrogen economies

Hydrogen Highlight

As demand for clean energy increases, experts at Argonne are helping drive innovation with decision makers.

Hydrogen could transform the energy industry. But first, hydrogen must be environmentally and economically sustainable.

Demand for clean energy is driving innovation. Fuel cell technology to power hydrogen vehicles is advancing and greener technologies to produce, transport, store and use hydrogen are being deployed. Everyone from energy companies to auto makers needs to understand how these innovations may influence the market.

Experts at U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory help decision makers understand how each method of producing hydrogen affects the environment as well as its costs and profitability. Argonne experts analyze how much energy is used by producing hydrogen in many different ways – from the conventional method of steam methane reforming to solar-, wind-, and nuclear-powered approaches. They also estimate the amount of air pollutants and greenhouse gases that are emitted, along with how much water is needed.

For example, the heavy-duty trucking sector could be powered by hydrogen fuel cell technology which provides for greater range and faster refueling times than current battery technologies. The U.S. could cut carbon dioxide from the heavy-duty trucking sector by more than 80% by using clean hydrogen and fuel cells in long-haul trucks, according to Argonne experts and our Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Technologies (GREET) model.

Engineers at Argonne also evaluate the cost of delivering hydrogen and refueling fuel cell vehicles in any configuration. For example, for higher daily demand at hydrogen fueling stations, (e.g., more than 1,000 kilograms per day), delivering liquid hydrogen via cryogenic tankers can lower fueling costs vs. delivering it in compressed form by tube-trailers.

Our goal is to evaluate various hydrogen technologies and their end use in numerous applications to inform stakeholders of the opportunities and challenges in the marketplace,” said Amgad Elgowainy, Argonne senior scientist. We identify key cost drivers and emissions sources associated with hydrogen production, delivery and end use to guide research and development that targets cost and emissions reduction.”

This article is part of Argonne’s ongoing ​“Hydrogen Highlights” series.