This is the text version of the video Hydrogen Technologies Overview at the DOE Hydrogen Program 2022 Annual Merit Review and Peer Evaluation Meeting.
Ned Stetson, Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office: As Eric mentioned, I'm Ned Stetson. I'm the program manager for the Hydrogen Technologies area here in the Office of Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies. The team—this is the team that's been carrying out all the work. It has grown a little bit from last year. Specifically, Marika has been transitioned from a support contractor to a federal technology manager. We've added Cassie and Nikkia as a couple of support contractors, and several ORISE fellows, namely McKenzie, Anne Marie, and Angela.
When you think about the H2@Scale initiative—as Sunita called it, it's sort of like a Swiss army approach. But, if you look at the hydrogen technologies, we actually encompass a major portion of it, the whole heart of it. We cover everything from producing the hydrogen molecule to all the infrastructure needed to condition it, move it, store it, and dispense it to all these various end-use applications from power generation, industrial applications, etc. We're also involved with blending hydrogen with the natural gas infrastructure. In terms of transportation, we are also developing the onboard storage technologies. It's a very large activity covering a lot of disciplines.
We are really focused in our office on using clean, sustainable energy resources and feedstocks to produce clean hydrogen. We look at several key pathways for producing hydrogen, including direct solar water splitting, biological processes, and of course electrolysis. Then, once you produce the molecule, we work on the conditioning, so either compressing it, liquefying it, binding it to another material as a carrier, purifying it, moving it, storing it, and then, finally, dispensing it to the end-use applications. In some cases, we are then involved with, for instance, the onboard storage.
I'm going to break my discussion into two parts. The first part will cover the production, and then the second part will cover all the infrastructure aspects. As a reminder, production presentations will be Wednesday starting at 11 a.m., so hopefully those interested in hydrogen production will attend those talks. As was mentioned several times earlier, a year ago the secretary announced the Hydrogen Shot, which has a very aggressive goal of reducing the cost of hydrogen to $1.00 for 1 kilogram within one decade. That's about an 80% reduction from the 2020 baseline of $5.00 for the low-cost hydrogen production from renewable energy. More recently in November, the president signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Of course, that is looking at a number of provisions for clean hydrogen, including $1 billion for electrolysis research, development, and demonstration, so I'm going to focus primarily on that.
As mentioned, that's $1 billion over 5 years, so that's about $200 million a year just for electrolysis technologies. The goal of the electrolysis program as laid out in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law or BIL is to reduce and validate the cost of hydrogen produced using electrolyzers to less than $2.00 per kilogram of clean hydrogen by 2026, so that's right in line with the Energy Earthshot getting to $1.00 by 2031. The BIL specifically describes the program, or charges us with establishing a research, development, demonstration, commercialization, and deployment program for the purposes of commercialization to improve the efficiency, increase durability, and reduce the cost of producing clean hydrogen using electrolyzers.
It actually describes in detail a very comprehensive program. It talks about low-temperature electrolyzers, including liquid alkaline in a membrane base, including proton exchange and alkaline exchange membrane-based electrolyzers. It talks about high-temperature electrolyzers, which include oxide-conducting and proton-conducting solid oxides. It mentions reversible fuel cells and other advanced, novel electrolyzer technologies. It talks about getting down into the material level, such as electrocatalysts, membranes, separators; at the component level, electrodes, porous transport layers, bipolar plates, component design, material integration.
It also talks about integrating electrolyzers into complete energy systems, so it talks about ensuring that we have the required infrastructure technologies, such as compression and drying technologies, storage technologies, being able to transport hydrogen for transportation/stationary systems, running electrolyzers on impure water, coupling it to renewable and nuclear power, distributed and bulk systems. It talks about developing manufacturing processes for low-cost, scalable manufacturing, and it talks about the demonstration projects to really validate the information on the cost and performance of the electrolyzers, as well as the produced hydrogen. It describes a very comprehensive program.
In the past six months, roughly, since the passage, we have been very busy collecting input from stakeholders on exactly what this program should be and how we should run it. We've run a total of seven different workshops, three specifically on electrolysis. One was on power electronics, which can be electrolyzers or fuel cells. We had one on bulk storage of hydrogen, we had one on liquid hydrogen technologies, and recently we had one specifically on manufacturing automation and recycling for clean hydrogen technologies. We held a webinar back in February. We released a Request for Information, which included both the manufacturing recycling program as well as the electrolysis program—that was released in mid February and closed end of March. We've held a number of listening sessions with industry stakeholders, and we've even held a roundtable with electrolyzer CEOs.
Speaking specifically about the Request for Information, like I said, it was released mid February and closed end of March. We received input from more than 120 individual or unique stakeholders, and that input included more than 1,200 pages, so, to be honest with you, we're still digesting all the input we got. We had questions and received input on a number of things, including the innovations and metrics needed to measure the progress for achieving $2.00 by 2026. What are some of the key material, component, cell design, and BOP improvements needed, especially for volume manufacturing. What are some potential benefits and demonstrations. Also, what should be the objectives in scale required for meaningful electrolyzer demonstrations. We asked about key attributes for storage and infrastructure, the ancillary technologies. What are some of the barriers for scaling up domestic manufacturing of electrolyzer systems. What are needs for national test facilities for electrolyzers, again, to accelerate the development progress, and we asked about recommendations to incorporate the EJ40 and diversity, equity, and inclusion provisions. We asked basically across the entire gamut as laid out in the BIL, and we got a lot of input. We got input from electrolyzer manufacturers, electrolyzer developers, including universities, a lot of end-users and stakeholders gave us input, so we got a lot of very good information, and, as I said, we're still digesting all the information that was received.
Going back to the production program itself, as mentioned, we look at direct water splitting, which includes photoelectrochemical and solar thermochemical. We have biological processes. We specifically have active programs today in fermentation and microbial electrochemical cells, and then of course water electrolysis. New this year, we are definitely ramping up efforts on liquid alkaline electrolysis, which we haven't really carried out much in the past, but then we also have all the other type of technologies here, as well, including the commercial and pre-commercial. Going forward, these two programs, direct water splitting and biological, these advanced pathways will continue to be carried out under the core program, whereas all the electrolysis efforts are going to be carried out under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law program.
Looking at the budget, we had $30 million for hydrogen production in FY21, and you see that more than half of that was specifically on electrolysis efforts. This year with the BIL, we've reduced the production program under the appropriations to $15 million, but that's actually a plus-up for the advanced pathways. Going forward, all electrolysis efforts will be moved under the BIL, which it is currently tagged at $200 million a year for the next five years. While this looks like a cut, it's actually a dramatic increase in funding for production. Also, as mentioned earlier today, we launched the Hydrogen Shot Incubator. This was first announced back on Earth Day, which is April 22. This screenshot was from the website several weeks ago. At that point, you can see we had roughly 100 followers already, with over 1,300 views. If you go there now, you can see that these numbers all definitely increased, and instead of seeing "Follow the Challenge," you'll see a button something like "Solve the Challenge," where you can register to be a competitor in this prize.
Let's talk a little bit about electrolysis itself. There are several key factors which contribute to the cost of electrolytic hydrogen. Low-cost electricity is one of them. Our program does not specifically work on reducing the cost of electricity; however, we do work on making sure we improve the efficiency so we can produce more hydrogen per kilowatt hour of electricity input. But, also, we can work on making sure that the electrolyzers can make use of the low-cost electricity when it's available, so that means, for instance, making sure the electrolyzers can operate in dynamic mode where they can be directly coupled to transient renewable energy, such as wind and solar. Also, that they can do, for instance, load-shifting, load-following for the grid. That's one thing, making sure that our program is actively making sure that electrolyzers can make use of low-cost electricity. As mentioned, definitely working on improving the efficiency of electrolyzer systems, doing a lot on trying to reduce the cost, the capital expense of the electrolyzers, improving the durability and the lifetime of them, developing low-cost manufacturing processes, especially scalable processes so we can get to not only megawatt-scale electrolyzers, but also gigawatt-scale manufacturing of electrolyzers.
These targets we actually first announced last year, so we have developed targets for PEM and solid oxide, so if we can get these targets, we definitely see pathways to getting the $2.00 by 2026. We will be releasing further targets looking at how we can get down to $1.00 by 2031. This just shows you one pathway to get there, which involves reducing the capital costs, improving the durability, as well as improving the efficiency and making sure that we can access low-cost electricity. We definitely see pathways to get to $2.00 by 2026. And then we need further improvements to get to $1.00 by 2031.
We did in 2020 put out a record baselining the cost of clean hydrogen. At that point, it was $5.00 to $6.00 a kilogram using grid, but we could get the same range using renewable energy. NREL just completed an analysis, which is currently under review, where they looked at what is the current state-of-the-art. If you add these up, the capital cost is about $1,300 a kilowatt, and this is for large scale. As Sunita pointed out earlier, there has been a number of 120-megawatt installations announced, so this is looking at one of the larger electrolyzer installations. Using the values of an H2A, they have some set percentages in there for recovering the installation costs and soft costs. We are actually now initiating a new effort to try to collect data and understand what are the real installation costs and soft costs so we can make sure that the model is correctly accounting for these costs, again, taking the current state-of-the-art as far as the lifetime and efficiencies.
With H2A, normally you put in electricity costs and a capacity factor, and it will tell you what the cost of the hydrogen is. We're actually kind of reversing this and saying, "Okay, what do we need to get for electricity costs and capacity factor to get a certain cost of hydrogen," and this contour plot here is relating the capacity factor and the electricity price, and this black line shows you the combination that you need to get to $4.00. If you look, for instance, at 50% capacity factor, you need about 2 cents a kilowatt hour for electricity. At 70% capacity factor, you need about 3 cents a kilowatt hour, and at 90% capacity factor, you need about 4 cents a kilowatt hour. If you look at publicly announced power purchase agreements for renewable electricity, we can see that there are power purchase agreements that have been publicly announced that fall within these ranges, meaning that it is possible to get to $4.00 a kilowatt hour for clean hydrogen today using PEM electrolyzers.
As mentioned, last year we announced that we had materials, advanced component, and advanced manufacturing. Under the BIL, we now are able to expand that, so not only can we expand these but we can actually put more emphasis on complete advanced systems, so these are complete systems including a little more emphasis on balance of plant, and we can also do more around system demonstration and deployment activities. With Section 815 of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law manufacturing and recycling, we can now close the circle and look at the recycling and end-of-use of the materials. These lower TRL efforts were carried out primarily with ElectroCat and HydroGEN, so we anticipate this will be primarily for the pre-commercial technologies, such as alkaline exchange membrane and proton-conducting solid oxide. H2NEW, the newer consortium, we expect it to be focused more on the commercial systems and looking at more of the integrated components, all the way up through to the stack, including looking at the manufacturing processes to make sure that what we're characterizing through the consortium is reflective of what the commercial systems would look like. Then, we still expect that industry will lead most of the advanced areas for complete systems manufacturing and the demonstrations.
We talked about HydroGEN. It's been around for several years now. We have five core labs. They have so far supported over 31 seedling projects where they've actually made ready access to over 46 lab capabilities or nodes to help these projects carry out their efforts. They have actually published 118 publications, over 2,700 citations, including contributions from over 436 authors, so they have been very successful and very busy over the last several years.
Looking at a couple of key accomplishments coming out of HydroGEN, an effort, a seedling project led by West Virginia University, they were looking to develop a proton solid oxide-conducting material, which has good current density and low degradation at 600°C. The advantage of proton-conducting solid oxide versus the more traditional oxide-conducting is that it can operate at a much lower temperature. When you operate at a much lower temperature, you can (a) be integrated with more heat sources for thermal integration, but also you have a wider selection of materials you can use.
They have actually far exceeded their goals. They have actually demonstrated 1.46 amps at 1.3 volts, so getting very efficient at 600°C, and also they've demonstrated very low degradation with 5,000 hours operation. The 5,000 hours is a stop because they had a power failure at the lab, not that there was any problem with the material itself. If you look at some of the activities with HydroGEN, the lab teams themselves, they were looking at getting very high Faradaic efficiency. Again, the advantage of high temperature is that you can get very high electrical efficiency, so their goal was actually to demonstrate getting to 90% Faradaic efficiency at some relevant current densities and at relevant temperature and steam concentration. You can see in the plots up here, they were able to do that, so, again, they were able to demonstrate that they can get this very high efficiency.
For some low-temperature work within HydroGEN, it's a project by Chemours. One of the problems with the proton exchange membranes used in commercial systems today is that they're very thick. When they're thick, they have very low conductivity, high resistance, which reduces the efficiency of the fuel cell, or the electrolyzer. One of the goals is to actually get to a much thinner membrane. To get thinner membranes, you do get higher conductivity; however, we now have issues with the potential for gas crossover. Also, because hydrogen produces twice the [inaudible] reaction, you have to worry about pressure differentials, so they were looking at developing a thin membrane with a reinforcement, also incorporating a gas recombination catalyst to help mitigate any effect of gas crossover. Using a 50-micrometer thick membrane, which is much thinner than what is commercially used today, they were able to show that they could get improvements at a very high current density, and also that they were able to get a 50X reduction in the effective hydrogen crossover compared to a commercial membrane at the same thickness. A project from the University of Oregon was looking at alkaline exchange membranes, as well as bipolar membranes, and basically trying to understand the degradation mechanism, through the degradation mechanisms, especially using impure water, so not using really high-purity water as is traditionally used. They have been able to demonstrate only a 200 mV increase in the overpotential after 100 hours of operation using tap water on the anode. They've also demonstrated a hafnium oxide protective layer, which prevents the ionomer degradation and prevents oxidation of the ionomer.
Moving on to H2NEW, this team has been up and running for a little over a year now. This past year, we've added some new non-lab partners to help supplement the capabilities within the lab themselves. Again, they're really focused on the more commercial systems and understanding degradation when you start integrating these materials into MEAs, into integrating MEAs with porous transport layers and building entire stacks, and really trying to improve the overall performance, especially looking at using scalable, high-volume manufacturing technologies for producing these various components.
Some of the activities they've been carrying out, they've really been leading the charge on carrying out these pathway analyses, trying to identify various scenarios and different pathways to meet our objectives. Before, I showed a contour plot relating electricity price with capacity factor. This is looking at the capital expense and efficiency, and, again, just identifying some of the pathways which we can follow to achieve it. They've also been looking at developing novel characterization techniques to better understand the degradation mechanisms. In this case, using a novel ICP mass spec to understand the iridium dissolution, which is one of the performance degradation mechanisms, is loss of iridium from the MEA or the electrode, and then they're able to use this to follow the dissolution and then they can actually compare this with theoretical modeling.
They have also developed some hardware to be able to safely measure and monitor the hydrogen crossover. Again, we're looking at getting the pressure up to 30 bar operation. When you do that, hydrogen crossover is a concern. When you have hydrogen crossover on the oxygen side, then you could get a hazardous situation, so they've been able to develop hardware to allow us to monitor that safely. Of course, we're also looking at developing, or looking at various high throughput manufacturing processes and be able to compare that with commercial systems, as well as the laboratory produced systems, so we're really looking at trying to get more efficient use of, for instance, the expensive components, such as the PGMs, specifically iridium that's used for the oxygen evolution reaction.
On the high temperature side, again, it's really been carrying out a lot of testing of state-of-the-art materials to really determine the baseline of the performance to start understanding what are the degradation mechanisms that are occurring, so they've been carrying out a lot of evaluation of systems, again, developing new methodologies. In this case, being able to do depth profiling in looking at various depths using synchrotron X-rays in operando or in situ conditions, and also developing computational modeling so we can better understand what's really going on and be able to use it through analyzing and compare it with the experimental data.
We have also been carrying out some manufacturing based on industry-led projects. Plug Power has been looking at developing what they call an integrated membrane anode assembly. This is taking essentially a 25-step manufacturing process and trying to reduce it down to 5 steps to result in one-tenth the production time, and be able to demonstrate this on a commercial scale electrode with very low degradation. These projects are in the initial stages. The second project here by Nel is looking at developing a low-cost porous transport layer and integrating that with MEA so you get very efficient integration and performance. They have actually gotten to the point where they have successfully manufactured some samples and demonstrated 1,000 hours of stable operation already. Then, this third project here is by 3M. They're looking at making very efficient use of the iridium oxide catalyst for the oxygen evolution reaction, so they're developing processes to get to very low loading of the iridium but very high efficiency and performance so we can actually get to gigawatt-scale manufacturing. They have a five-step process, and they have actually been able to demonstrate three of the five steps already where they're projecting that it could be greater than a 2-gigawatt scale manufacturing process.
Now talking about the advanced pathways. First of all, we've been for several years now supporting an effort developing benchmarks and protocols so we can actually have consistent evaluation and reporting of the data and performance of not only the electrolyzer technology but also the advanced pathways, such as the photoelectric and solar thermochemical processes. This has been led by these four: Nel, Pacific Northwest, Arizona State, and Caltech. They've carried out four annual workshops now, and the fourth one was just about a month ago. It was a hybrid, combined in-person and virtual. They had about 120 participants from around the world, with about 60 in person and about 60 online. They have actually developed a number of test protocols. I think 13 have now been published, so these are available online from the journal Frontiers in Energy. They have others, which are going to be disseminated through the HydroGEN Data Hub. They have a number of other protocols which are currently in the draft stage.
Let's talk about some of the key accomplishments. Again, this is coming out of HydroGEN. First is from the University of Toledo, which is looking to develop these perovskite/perovskite tandem photoelectrodes for low-cost PEC hydrogen production. They have actually been able to demonstrate 17% sun-to-hydrogen efficiency with a tandem cell, and, with a wired version of it, get 15% sun-to-hydrogen, so they're actually getting some good sun-to-hydrogen efficiencies demonstrated. Some work out of Rice University is also looking at some perovskites but with some corrosion-resistant barriers. They actually have a material which has a theoretical sun-to-hydrogen efficiency of 22.8%, or 23%, and they've actually been able to demonstrate 20% in an actual sample, and have also been able to demonstrate good lifetime at this point using a barrier where they've got over 100 hours of performance.
For some of the STCH work, some work out of UC San Diego, they're really looking at using high-entropy perovskites. These are mixed-metal perovskites, and they've been using computational modeling to guide the selection of promising materials, which they could then synthesize, characterize, and evaluate. Using the computational method, they've evaluated over 60,000 compositions, they have identified 150 which they have synthesized, and they have actually been able to demonstrate 400 micromoles of hydrogen production per gram using this one high-entropy perovskite, so they're making improvements there as far as the hydrogen production rate. Some work within HydroGEN itself, this is really trying to critically assess the pathways, the viability of the pathways. They developed some routines where they can, based on the thermodynamic materials and the experimental data from the materials, they can then automate the parameter analysis and optimize it, which they can then evaluate what the performance would be, which they could then graph on the radio plot which they can normalize to cerium oxide, which is the standard material for STCH. They can then evaluate for any of these new materials, how would they perform compared to the baseline material.
Moving on to the biological hydrogen production, this is work primarily carried out by NREL, Pacific Northwest, Berkeley Lab, and Argonne, they're looking at being able to (a) engineer a specific strain of Clostridium thermocellum so it can efficiently convert both C5 and C6 sugars. Usually, it only efficiently converts C6; they're trying to engineer a strain to be able to convert both so we can get higher utilization of the material that's in biomass and cellulose. Also, looking to increase the intensity of fermentation systems so we can get the high solids loading, so, again, we can improve the efficiency of the system, and then develop an efficient microbial electrochemical cell, which can then take the effluent from the fermentation. When you do that, we can basically double to triple the amount of hydrogen per glucose molecule, so from fermentation you can get 2 to 4 moles of hydrogen per mole of glucose. When you couple that with microbial electrochemical cells, we can now get 6 to 8 glucose molecules for—sorry, 8 to 12 in total, so we can double to triple the amount of hydrogen per glucose molecule. They actually have demonstrated that they can get very high utilization of C5 sugar using this current strain. They've had significant increase, a 67% increase for some high-loaded batch reactors using both simulated biomass as well as some actual biomass materials. They have actually been able to demonstrate taking simulated biomass effluent and get some good current density and hydrogen production rates for both the simulated as well as actual biomass.
Moving on to the infrastructure side, when we talk about infrastructure, we're really talking about all the conditioning for hydrogen, the delivery aspects, the storage aspects, and the dispensing. We have three primary ways in which we can store and move hydrogen. We can do it as gaseous hydrogen, so compressed. We can do it as liquid hydrogen, which it's liquid at 20 Kelvin or minus 253 Celsius. Or we can do it as a carrier, where it is bound to another material, either physi- or chemically bound to another material. Then, we need to get it to these sites and then, again, condition it, so get it in the right phase, the right pressure, the right purity for an end-use application. Especially in transportation, the dispensing is very critical. Both the technology and the algorithms used for dispensing are critical, and we know that this can actually add—the transport, storage, and dispensing can actually add significantly more costs than just the production of hydrogen itself, so these are critical areas to be focused on.
The budget last year was about $41 million. This year, we had about $46 million, and you can see we got the request of $56 million for FY23, so we're trying to increase the efforts here so we can really focus on getting low-cost hydrogen to the end use. Some of the activities we have going on, this is some work at NREL. It's Innovating Hydrogen Station. This is basically building a station which can simulate heavy-duty refueling. With light-duty vehicles, we're looking at about less than a 2 kg/min average flow on light-duty vehicles. We're particularly talking up to 5 or 6 kg for a max fill on a light-duty vehicle. With trucks, we're looking at an average of 10 kg/min, so at least 5 times higher flow rate with a peak of 18 to 20 kg a minute, so, again, significantly higher. But we're also looking at 60 to 100 kg being filled at a time.
Again, significantly higher than a light-duty vehicle, so this is a real challenge. With this station, they actually have these banks of tanks, which are a simulator of a truck, or 700 bar fueling. Each of these tanks in this bank are fully instrumented, so they can measure temperatures and flows throughout the entire tank, both in the gas phase as well as at the walls. This can actually be put inside an insulated enclosure so they can actually control the ambient temperature around the tanks. They have completed the installation of it now, and they have actually recently started the commissioning of it. They have already been able to demonstrate a 40-kg fill with an average of 13 kg per minute with a 21-kg peak, so they've actually been able to demonstrate they can get to these goals that were being targeted. We're now expecting that they would be able to get to full operation doing 60- to 80-kg fills sometime later this month.
Also, one of the key cost components and energy consumer at filling stations is the chiller, or—the 2601 fueling protocol for light-duty vehicles, it requires chilling hydrogen at minus 40° Celsius. This is some work at the Gas Technology Institute looking at developing a free-piston expansion chiller. It's expected to be about 40% of the cost and only consume about 20% of the energy of current chilling systems, so a big capital cost saver and energy saver compared to current state-of-the-art technology used at the hydrogen filling stations. They've been conducting a test on small, sub-scale systems and basically partial systems. They're now building a complete system. They're about 90% built, and they expect commissioning of the new system in July, so we're looking forward to actually getting the data from them at that point.
Looking at onboard storage, if you look at the onboard storage tanks, over half the cost comes from the carbon fiber used for these 700 bar composite overpressure vessels. We finally kicked off these four projects led by the University of Virginia, the University of Kentucky, Hexagon, and the nonprofit that runs IACMI, to try to develop some unique technology to reduce the cost of carbon fiber by 50%, so we're looking at a 50% reduction in the carbon fiber, which would result in a $4.00 to $5.00-per-kilowatt savings, that's what we project, if we're successful here. Oak Ridge is a partner with all of these, as well as doing some independent work on some additional technologies looking at potential ways to reduce the cost of carbon fiber used in these. These projects have only been up and running for about six months. We're getting progress out of them already that have demonstrated some low-cost precursors with low polydispersity and optimum molecular weight. They've actually been synthesizing some of the fibers, which will be then converted into carbon fibers and actually start doing some conversion, and also looking at the sizing which is what really adheres the carbon fiber with the resin in the composite, so they're making progress. They'll be talking on Tuesday. The way these projects are set up, the first two years, all four projects will continue. At the end of that two-year period, we will evaluate and determine which one seems to have the highest probability of success, which seems to be making the most progress, and that project will then be continued for an additional three years with additional funding, with the goal of actually developing the carbon fiber and actually demonstrating tanks, using the tank, the carbon fiber before the end of the project.
Talking about materials compatibility, if we're going to use hydrogen in natural gas pipelines, if we're going to have pipelines for hydrogen, with all the filling stations and components being put out there, we need to make sure the materials are compatible for hydrogen service. The H-Mat consortium is carrying out the foundational research on materials compatibility with hydrogen. This includes both the metallic and non-metallic materials. They're carrying on a lot of work looking at the various steels, various pipeline materials, various elastomers and polymeric materials used in hydrogen service. Actually, they've been working with a lot of industry to improve the materials and solve some of the issues they've been seeing. They're also working with the HyBlend consortium. The HyBlend consortium currently has over 30 industry partners and national labs, and they're really looking at what are the limits, and what do we need to do to start blending hydrogen into the natural gas system. So they've actually completed technical reviews of various codes and standards to see what is relevant for the blending. They have developed some master curves to characterize the life of the pipeline materials when you start doing blending. Again, looking at both the legacy materials out there, such as cast lines and [inaudible] lines, and other steels used in transmission lines, as well some of the new modern materials, such as polyethylene pipelines, etc. Again, these efforts are very active.
Moving on to liquid storage, another project kicked off this past year was led by Shell. It's looking at designing, so they could be built extremely large, liquid hydrogen storage vessels. They're targeting 20,000 to 100,000 m3 storage vessels. Just to kind of put that in perspective, currently the largest liquid hydrogen storage vessel—they just completed the construction of it at the Kennedy Space Center—it's about 4,700 m3, so we're talking 4 to 20 times larger than anything that's been built to date for liquid hydrogen. They see that this is what's going to be needed if we're going to have an international export market for hydrogen, where we're going to have hydrogen vessels onboard ships, and we're going to need very large capacity at the ports both to store liquid to be transferred on the ship, as well as be transferred from the ship, so they're looking at these really extremely large vessels. They're looking at trying to produce some very low boil-off rates, as well as relatively low CAPEX. They've actually developed a number of tank concepts; they've down-selected to two. They have actually completed a safety review of the relative risks of the two concepts. They've been looking at the installation. Most hydrogen storage vessels use a multilayer vacuum insulation. When you get to these extremely large vessels, vacuum insulation isn't that practical, at least not high vacuums, so they've been evaluating different insulation and they're really focusing on glass bubbles, and they've actually developed models so they can actually predict the conductivity of insulation materials, including the convective contribution since these will not be under high vacuums. From that, they can actually start predicting the boil-off rates that would be expected.
Talking about carriers, we have a very broad definition for hydrogen carriers. A lot of people when they think of carriers, they think of organic materials. We include liquid materials, solid materials, both actual compounds as well as metal hydrides and absorbents when it comes to carriers. But, talking about a couple of specific projects here, the first one is from the University of Southern California. This is looking at a proprietary catalyst that they developed for evolution of hydrogen from formic acid, as well as formic acid blends, and actually demonstrating them in a prototype reactor. Los Alamos is a partner in this effort that is actually designing a reactor. They want to be able to show that they can actually get to very high hydrogen flow rates so this can be used for, for instance, filling stations or large-scale applications demanding hydrogen. So far, they've demonstrated 160-liter-per-hour peak flow, and this is actually at 155 bar, so this is very important. This is actually being hydrogen released at high pressure. This makes the—for instance, if you're doing it at a filling station where you need to fill a vehicle with 350 or 700 bar, if you could actually evolve the hydrogen at 150 bar, that eliminates a lot of the compression needs, so it's much easier to take 155 bar hydrogen and compress it to 350 or 700 than it is to take a few bar hydrogen pressure. And the fact this was done at a scale, so they project that this is actually scalable to 300 kg per hour, so that's a big improvement.
They've also demonstrated, albeit at ambient pressure, that they can scrub CO and CO2 and get it down to low part-per-million concentrations. They've also been able to show that if they took a blend of methanol with formic acid—so formic acid itself has 4.3% hydrogen available. They've actually demonstrated 5.3% from a methanol formic acid blend, so they're showing that their catalyst works with blends and they can actually get higher [inaudible] capacities using a blend, and they've actually been carrying out an understanding of the mechanisms for the catalytic activity. HyMARC has been carrying out a lot of work on carriers itself, and they've really been looking at trying to understand what are some uses cases that can benefit from hydrogen carriers, especially examples where you need to store very large amounts of hydrogen or need to store it for a very long time. If you can store it under near-ambient pressure and temperature conditions versus high pressure or cryogenically, there could be some major advantages, so they've been looking at various end use and trying to understand what are the ones which could really benefit from using hydrogen carriers. Then, from that, understand what are the key physiochemical properties that carriers need to be able to meet the needs of these applications. Then, they will start evaluating select carrier systems to demonstrate how well they do meet those applications.
One of the ones we're focusing on is not formic acid but formate. If you take formic acid and you actually make it into a salt, you make formate. Formate is very biologically benign. The thing is, if you dehydrogenate the formate, you're actually forming bicarbonate. If you think of sodium bicarbonate, that's baking soda, so these are very common, environmentally benign materials. It's also a very cyclable material, so instead of decomposing formic acid where you get CO2, you take the formate, you get bicarbonate, and you can actually cycle it this way. You can take the bicarbonate, you can hydrogenate it where you get water coming off the reaction, but then you can also catalytically decompose the formate in water to get hydrogen and bicarbonate. You can do this in solution, or you can remove the water and have the solid material and keep it stored, transport the solid material and then add water when you need hydrogen. From this, they have been able to demonstrate that they did 10 cycles of a formate bicarbonate system, and they were able to do the hydrogen release and the hydrogen uptake at relatively mild conditions. Under constant pressure and temperature, less than 80°C for the released hydrogen, and then they were able to rehydrogenate using less than 35 bar pressure and 50°C, so they've actually been demonstrating under relatively mild conditions that they can cycle this material between the bicarbonate and the formate stage.
I also want to emphasize that materials-based storage technologies are really becoming more commercial. We actually have three activities that really lean towards commercialization. The first, its nickname is FLASH. It's actually a material that came out of a HyMARC seedling project. They discovered an additive which, when you couple this additive with various complex hydrides, you can actually get hydrogen release, very rapid hydrogen release under very mild conditions. This material is of interest to Honeywell. Honeywell has hydrogen fuel cell drones, and they're looking for better ways to store hydrogen for use with the drones. They're working with NREL now to optimize the formulation of the material, as well as to develop a cartridge which will contain the material and allow safe release of the hydrogen, and then we'll demonstrate it in their drone application.
A project is being carried out at Los Alamos National Lab in coordination with Oberon. Oberon is a producer of renewable dimethyl ether, and they're interested in using their renewable DME as a hydrogen carrier looking at potentially, for instance, planned hydrogen fueling stations, such as in California. Los Alamos has actually developed a catalyst and reactor system, and demonstrated at a small scale, so this project is now looking at scaling up to a pilot scale to be able to produce 25 kg of hydrogen per day. Once this has been demonstrated and validated, Oberon then plans to use this in the next phase of the commercialization plan. Then, another activity at NREL, this is with GKN Hydrogen, and also SoCalGas has joined in on this project. This is actually demonstrating a very large-capacity metal hydride system for hydrogen storage. GKN has developed these what they call HY2MEGA systems, which actually have a storage capacity of 260 kg of hydrogen. Two of these systems are being combined to give you 520 kg of hydrogen capacity. This is being installed at the Flatirons Campus as part of ARIES at NREL. There, it will be coupled to large-scale electrolyzers and fuel cells, and they're going to demonstrate and validate the performance, the charge rates, the capacity, and efficiency of the system, and then also investigate the supply and demand and techno-economics of the system and identify some key potential commercial uses for the system. So, these are very exciting projects.
Just kind of wrapping up here, we are a very collaborative program. We collaborate with a number of EERE offices, as well as other agencies such as the Department of Commerce—NIST, NASA, the Department of Defense, NSF. We collaborate internationally. We support a number of universities, companies, and national labs.
We're very busy. These are just some of the key highlights. We actually have a lot more activities going on.
As Sunita mentioned, we are hiring. Specifically, we are definitely looking for more fellow candidates, so if you are a graduate student or a post-doc or somebody who is looking to take a break from what you've been doing professionally for a few years, or if you happen to have or know of any students or post-docs that might be interested in doing a fellowship in our office, we encourage you to apply. You can go to the Zintellect site to get the details and apply for the position. With that, I think I'm pretty much on time, and I will wrap up. Thank you.