DOE has prepared a Multi-Year Research, Development, and Demonstration Plan to provide hydrogen as a viable fuel for transportation after 2020, in order to reduce the consumption of limited fossil fuels in the transportation industry. Hydrogen fuel can be derived from a variety of renewable energy sources and has a very high BTU energy content per kg, equivalent to the BTU content in a gallon of gasoline.
The least expensive delivery option for hydrogen involves pipeline transport of the hydrogen from the production sites to the population centers where the vehicles will see the highest demand and thus have the greatest impact on reducing the US dependency on fossil fuel. The cost to deliver the hydrogen resource to the refueling stations will add to the ultimate cost per kg or per gallon equivalent that needs to be charged for the hydrogen fuel. In order to keep the cost per gallon (equivalent) of hydrogen fuel as low as possible to the consumer, it is necessary to reduce the cost of its transmission to the refueling station. This can be done by reducing the cost of the compressors, as well as all other refueling station components, while also increasing their energy efficiency. DOE has set a target of $1/GGE (Gallon of Gasoline Equivalent).
To meet these goals, the DOE has commissioned Concepts NREC (CN) with the project entitled: “The Development of a Centrifugal Hydrogen Pipeline Gas Compressor”. CN’s engineering project plan consists of three distinct phases, as detailed in Figure 1. Phase I of this project has been completed and is described in this article.