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Archive for the category “hydrogen”

Hydrogen Out of Thin Air

“There is something in the air”… N2, O2, H2O, CO2, solar radiation. In principle all the ingredients are there to produce hydrogen H2, by using the solar light to split the moist H2O. That’s exactly what Japanese car company Toyota in Europe (TME) and DIFFER (Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research) have agreed to research upon. The self-imposed restriction of using moist, naturally present in the air, is justified by pointing at the pure character of the water vapor, no bubbles, as well as applicability in those places where water is not available.

new solid photoelectrochemical cell that was able to first capture water from ambient air and then produce hydrogen under the influence of sunlight. This first prototype immediately took 60 to 70 percent of the amount of hydrogen you can make from liquid water. The system is a membrane reactor in which polymer electrolyte membranes, porous photoelectrodes and materials that absorb water are combined.

When Toyota approached DIFFER, the latter group was already working on hydrolysis of water vapor. They have meanwhile shown that the idea works, but only for the 5% UV light. The next challenge is to expand the amount of light that can be used for the desired conversion. Once that has been achieved, scaling is next.

Both DIFFER and Toyota are operating in a social climate that is receptive towards hydrogen as an energy carrier. Both Japan as well as the Netherlands aspire to operate a hydrogen economy. The end goal is (very) local hydrogen production (like your roof), for instance for mobility, Toyota’s interest. Your home as the replacement for the petrol station.


[] – DIFFER and Toyota partner to produce hydrogen from humid air
[] – Hydrogen Fuel from thin air
[] – Catalytic and Electrochemical Processes for Energy Application
[] – Hydrogen fuel from thin air
[] – Toyota and DIFFER explore innovative hydrogen production from humid air
[] – DIFFER (fusion & solar fuels)

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Germany Missing Out on Power-to-Gas Revolution


German magazine der Spiegel despairs at the way with which Germany plays a significant role as a power-to-gas (P2G) innovator, yet fails to make a commercial success out of its endeavors.

One of the largest P2G installations is located in Pritzwalk, in East-Germany. Capacity 360 m3/hour. The installation can be seen as an opposition against an all-electric world. In the Pritzwalk Region 4 times more renewable electricity is produced as is consumed. P2G-installations could absorb this electricity and store it locally, either as H2, NH3 or CH4. In several parts in Germany, renewable wind electricity production is regularly switched off because of overproduction. P2G-installations would fit in wonderfully here.

Germany has a natural gas grid of 500,000 km that could transport renewable H2 or CH4. The trouble is that Germany isn’t pushing hard enough to roll out P2G on a large scale. Other countries do: the Netherlands, Denmark and Japan as prime examples. Official German justification: too low efficiency, 50%. According to der Spiegel installations with 75% do exist and there is room for even better numbers.

[] – Die verschleppte Energierevolution
[deepresource] – The Netherlands is Placing its Bets on the Hydrogen Economy

Water Electrolysis Catalyst Technology State-of-the-Art


Production of hydrogen by water splitting is an appealing solution for sustainable energy storage.Development of bifunctional catalysts that are active for both the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) andthe oxygen evolution reaction (OER) is a key factor in enhancing electrochemical water splitting activityand simplifying the overall system design. Here, recent developments in HER–OER bifunctional catalystsare reviewed. Several main types of bifunctional water splitting catalysts such as cobalt-, nickel- andiron-based materials are discussed in detail. Particular attention is paid to their synthesis, bifunctionalcatalytic activity and stability, and strategies for activity enhancement. The current challenges faced arealso concluded and future perspectives towards bifunctional water splitting electrocatalysts are proposed

[] – A review on noble-metal-free bifunctional heterogeneous catalysts for overall electrochemical water splitting
[] – High-efficiency, low-cost catalyst for water electrolysis

Convert Pollution in Hydrogen

[] – This Amazing Chemistry Process Generates Power From Polluted Air
[] – Belgian scientists turn polluted air into hydrogen fuel
[] – Challenging efficiency records of solar hydrogen production
[] – This Tiny Device Can Convert Polluted Air Into Hydrogen Fuel
[] – Monolithic cells for solar fuels
[] – Monolithic cells for solar fuels
[] – Multinationals in waterstofsector in het offensief
[] – Waterstof uit de lucht halen: Belgische vondst gooit hoge ogen
[] – Waterstof uit Vlaamse lucht is prachtig, maar meer ook (nog) niet

“Hydrogen-Fuel Cells, not Batteries, Future of E-Vehicles”

This is the surprisingly outspoken result of a global survey among top automotive executives, as reported by KPMG. The key reason why large scale application of car batteries will fail is because of infrastructure constraints.

[] – KPMG Global Automotive Executive Survey 2017

Hydrogen Economy in the Orkney Islands


The Scottish Orkney islands produce more renewable electricity from tidal and waves than it can consume, which creates some space to experiment a little, with hydrogen. The largest distance on the main island is merely 24 miles, so max. vehicle range is not an issue. Now the inhabitants have a dream of running their cars, ferries and boilers on hydrogen. All of them. With 21,000 inhabitants the project seems to be doable. By 2021, the world’s first hydrogen sea-going ferry should be in operation here. The ambition of the people of Orkney is to be an inspiration for others.

[] – How hydrogen is transforming these tiny Scottish Islands


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Hydrogen – the Fuel of the Future?

Shell sponsored video.

Solar Panels That Create Hydrogen Out of Thin Air

The university of Leuven in Belgium has developed a solar panel that can use the electricity it generated to convert atmospheric water vapor into hydrogen gas. Current production rate 0.25 m3 per panel per day (on average over a full year), where 15% of the sunlight is converted in hydrogen. The researchers claim that 20 panels can provide a family of electricity and heat all year around (1825 m3 hydrogen).

The claims are to be verified in a test home in Oud-Heverlee, near Leuven, where 20 “hydrogen panels” will be installed in combination with a 4 m3 hydrogen storage.

[] – KU Leuven scientists crack the code for affordable, eco-friendly hydrogen gas
[] – Solar panel produces hydrogen gas at KU Leuven
[] – Belgian Scientists Announce New Solar Panel That Makes Hydrogen
[] – University Leuven, Solar Fuels
[] – Solar Fuel Efficiency Records

[] – Lots of Dutch language videos here

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Regeneration of Spent NaBH4 From Renewable Electricity

7 steps in the traditional Brown-Schlesinger process for industrial production of NaBH4. (Borax = Na2B4O5(OH)4 · 8 H2O)

Taiwanese research from 2015 regarding the recycling of spent NaBH4, i.e. after this reaction has occurred and the hydrogen has been released:

NaBH4 + 2H2O → [catalyst] NaBO2 + 4H2 + 217kJ

The question is: how do we get NaBH4 back in the most energy-efficient manner and close the fuel cycle?. The traditional answer is: via the Brown-Schlesinger process. The electrolysis of molten NaCl in order to obtain metallic Na (Sodium) is an important step in that process. An alternative approach is presented here, namely producing metallic sodium through electrolysis of seawater.

Candidate metal borohydrides for hydrogen storage: LiBH4, NaBH4, KBH4, LiH, NaH, and MgH2. Of these NaBH4 is the prime candidate because of its higher hydrogen content (i.e., 10.8 wt%).

Traditional industrial method of producing NaBH4 according to the Brown-Schlesinger process (see picture above):

Step 1. Hydrogen produced from steam reforming of methane.
Step 2. Metallic sodium obtained through the electrolysis of sodium chloride.
Step 3. Boric acid converted from borax.
Step 4. Trimethyl borate synthesized from esterification of boric acid in methanol.
Step 5. Sodium hydride produced from metallic sodium reacting with hydrogen.
Step 6. Synthesis of NaBH4 via the reaction of trimethyl borate with sodium hydride.
Step 7. Methanol recycled from the hydrolysis of sodium methoxide.

The original fuel cycle, based on sodium borohydride (NaBH4) and ammonia borane (NH3BH3).

The revision in the concept combining the regeneration of the spent borohydrides and the used catalysts with the green electricity is reflected in(1) that metallic sodium could be produced from NaCl of high purity obtained from the conversion of the byproduct in the synthesis of NH3BH3 to devoid the complicated purification procedures if produced from seawater; and (2) that the recycling and the regeneration processes of the spent NaBH4 and NH3BH3 as well as the used catalysts could be simultaneously carried out and combined with the proposed life cycle of borohydrides.

[] – The Concept about the Regeneration of Spent Borohydrides and Used Catalysts from Green Electricity

Note that this research was published before H2-Fuel came out in the open about their method of extracting as much hydrogen as possible from NaBH4, namely via ultra-pure water and limited amounts of HCL.

[deepresource] – Production of NaBH4
[deepresource] – NaBH4 – The Vice-Admiral Has a Message for Dutch Parliament
[deepresource] – H2Fuel – Hydrogen Powder NaBH4

Production of NaBH4

[Source] Sodium Borohydride (NaBH4), the Holy Hydrogen Grail? The solution to our renewable energy storage problems?

As reported earlier, here is what is at stake: at [2:20] activator fluid is let lose on the small amount of NaBH4 powder and immediately large amounts of hydrogen are released from the powder that push away the water in the long glass tube. The amount of hydrogen produced can be accurately controlled by the amount of activator fluid added to the powder.

The purpose of this post is to gain some insight into how Sodium Borohydride (NaBH4) is acquired c.q. produced.

[] – Sodium borohydride

For commercial NaBH4 production, the Brown-Schlesinger process and the Bayer process are the most popular methods. In the Brown-Schlesinger process Sodium borohydride is industrially prepared following the original method of Schlesinger: sodium hydride (produced by reacting Na and H2) is treated with trimethyl borate at 250–270 °C:

B(OCH3)3 + 4 NaH → NaBH4 + 3 NaOCH3

Millions of kilograms are produced annually, far exceeding the production levels of any other hydride reducing agent. Sodium borohydride can also be produced by the action of NaH on powdered borosilicate glass.

Different from it, the Bayer process is based on the reaction among borax (Na2B4O7), Na, H2, and silicon oxide (SiO2) at 700 °C to synthesize NaBH4:

Na2B4O7 + 16 Na + 8 H2 + 7 SiO2 → 4 NaBH4 + 7 Na2SiO3

There is currently an effort to modify the Bayer Process by employing the less expensive reducing metal magnesium (Mg) in place of sodium. Reactions such as:

8 MgH2 + Na2B4O7 + Na2CO3 → 4 NaBH4 + 8 MgO + CO2


2 MgH2 + NaBO2 → NaBH4 + 2 MgO

are promising modifications to the Bayer Process, but have not been developed far enough to exhibit both high yield and fast reaction rates.

[] – The Concept about the Regeneration of Spent Borohydrides and Used Catalysts from Green Electricity (2015, pdf)

Currently, the Brown-Schlesinger process is still regarded as the most common and mature method for the commercial production of sodium borohydride (NaBH4). However, the metallic sodium, currently produced from the electrolysis of molten NaCl that is mass-produced by evaporation of seawater or brine, is probably the most costly raw material… we have made improvements and modified our previously proposed life cycle of sodium borohydride (NaBH4) and ammonia borane (NH3BH3), in order to further reduce costs in the conventional Brown-Schlesinger process.

[] – Review of Chemical Processes for the Synthesis of NaBH4
[] – A Recycling Hydrogen Supply System of NaBH4 Based on a Facile Regeneration Process (2018, pdf)
[] – The Preparation of Sodium Borohydride by the High Temperature Reaction of Sodium Hydride with Borate Esters (1953)
[] – Review chem. processes for synthesis of NaBH4
[] – Sodium

[] – The Concept about the Regeneration of Spent Borohydrides and Used Catalysts from Green Electricity (2015)

Dutch 20 MW AKZO-Gasunie Hydrogen-Electrolysis Initiative

Gasunie for decades was the Netherlands natural gas producer monopolist. But that gas era is running out, so if Gasunie wants to survive, it needs a new business model, that preferably fits with its expertise, which is energy/gas. Enter hydrogen. The Netherlands has ambitious plans for offshore wind development and all these GW’s need to be buffered. The Dutch government has opted for hydrogen. Gasunie sees this as a chance to enter the water-electrolysis market, has teamed up with Akzo-Nobel and announced last year that it intends to build a 20 MW electrolyser, for starters, to whet its appetite, so to speak. Location factory: Delfzijl.

Currently the largest electrolyser in the Netherlands has a throughput of 1 MW. 20 MW, that would mean 3,000 ton H2/year or 30 million m3. Dutch industry currently uses 800,000 ton hydrogen per year. In the long term 5-10 GW electrolysis could be applied usefully, fed by 7-15 North Sea wind parks of 750 MW each.

[] – Major Electrolysis Factory in Dutch Town Delfzijl
[] – The Netherlands has a Chance to Produce Electrolysers
[] – AkzoNobel en Gasunie onderzoeken 20 mMW elektrolyse-unit voor opwekking groene waterstof
[] – Industrie opent weg naar groene waterstof
[] – Hydrogen 2018 Review
[] – Nederland Waterstofland
[] – Gasunie Stapt in Waterstof
[] – Gasunie
[] – Waterstof: welke mogelijkheden biedt het voor de industrie?

State of Electrolysis in Europe – 2014

Electrolyser suppliers (not exhaustive)

Data from an EU report concerning electrolyser and fuel cell technology in Europe. Today, hydrogen is mostly produced from natural gas and only 4% from electrolysis. In the light of the Paris Climate Accords and renewable energy policy of the EU this could very well change drastically, and soon. The data presented here is already 5 years old. Technology has progressed since.

[] – Development of Water Electrolysis in the European Union (2014)
[] – Electrolysis of water

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Clipper Stad Amsterdam & Hydrogen Powertrain

Floris van Nievelt of the TU Delft, the Netherlands, has written his master thesis about modelling a hydrogen-based power train for an existing passenger sailing vessel, Stad Amsterdam. The hydrogen comes from a sodium borohydride powder storage. The study was performed in cooperation with the inventors of this storage method: h2-fuel.

The thesis contains a coherent overview of hydrogen storage with sodium borohydride. The study is also an indication that this form of hydrogen storage is taken serious by academic institutions. The TU Eindhoven and technological certification institute TNO had already verified the findings of h2-fuel.

[] – Maritime application of sodium borohydride as an energy carrier
[] – Hydrogen as the key to a sustainable shipping sector
[] – H2Fuel company site
[deepresource] – NaBH4 – The Vice-Admiral Has a Message for Dutch Parliament

The Emerging Dutch Hydrogen Economy

The Dutch government is convinced: hydrogen is going to be a major storage option for the Dutch economy.

The principle Dutch promoter of the hydrogen economy, entrepreneur and prof. Ad van Wijk, has written a short primer on the advantages of the hydrogen economy for the Netherlands. Van Wijk picks up from where Jeremy Rifkind left off in 2003. After the hydrogen economy fell into oblivion for years, van Wijk can pick up again because conditions have changed dramatically since. Soon, several European countries like Denmark, Germany and Scotland need to make decisions about the way they are going to store their at times abundant renewable electricity.

[] – hydrogen the key to the energy transition

This graph shows why seasonal storage of energy is inevitable if we move to a renewable energy base.

Dutch energy consumption patterns. Due to the presence of the largest harbor in Europe Rotterdam, the transport sector is relatively large.

Excellent prospects for Africa and Arabia to earn an income after the end of the oil age. Superb solar conditions, with irradiation 2-3 times as high as in Europe, could destine these countries to become major hydrogen producers.

Cost projections renewable electricity.

Siemens SILYZER PEM Water Electrolysis Systems

One of the largest advantages to PEM electrolysis is its ability to operate at high current densities. This can result in reduced operational costs, especially for systems coupled with very dynamic energy sources such as wind and solar, where sudden spikes in energy input would otherwise result in uncaptured energy. The polymer electrolyte allows the PEM electrolyzer to operate with a very thin membrane (~100-200 μm) while still allowing high pressures, resulting in low ohmic losses, primarily caused by the conduction of protons across the membrane (0.1 S/cm) and a compressed hydrogen output.

The polymer electrolyte membrane, due to its solid structure, exhibits a low gas crossover rate resulting in very high product gas purity. Maintaining a high gas purity is important for storage safety and for the direct usage in a fuel cell. The safety limits for H2 in O2 are at standard conditions 4 mol-% H2 in O2

[] – PEM Electrolysis
[] – Hydrogen Solutions
[] – Siemens Silyzer 300 (English/Deutsch)
[] – Integrating Renewable Energy and Hydrogen (pres. slides)

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Large-Scale Hydrogen Project in the Works in Belgium

[source] Haven Zeebrugge

The companies Engie, Colruyt/Eoly, Hydrogenics, Fluxys and Elia, as well as Zeebrugge harbor, Gent university and the hydrogen club Waterstofnet are joining forces in the Greenports study. Goal is to create a blueprint for large-scale hydrogen production in an harbor environment, read: convert offshore wind electricity in hydrogen. Focal point is the harbor of Zeebrugge.

[] – Greenports grootschalige waterstofproductie in havenomgeving
[] – Grootschalige waterstofproductie in een havenomgeving
[] – Power-to-gas Belgium
[] – Greenport site

Belgian offshore wind projects:

Project name MW Turbines
Belwind 171 56
Northwind 216 72
Nobelwind 165 50
Rentel 309 42

[] – Wind power in Belgium


H2Fuel Videos

[] – Company site

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ITM Power Upbeat of Hydrogen Storage Market

Shell opening its first hydrogen fueling station based on ITM hardware.

[] – ITM Power

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2018 Hyundai NEXO Hydrogen Fuel Cell Car

[] – The Top Gear car review: Hyundai Nexo
[] – Hyundai Nexo

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Largest Hydrogen Electrolyser Plant in the World (135/167 MW)

135 MW historic hydro-power electrolysis-based hydrogen production in Glomfjord, Norway 1953-1991

167 MW historic hydro-power electrolysis-based hydrogen production in Rjukan, Norway 1919-1988, possibly the oldest facility of its kind world-wide

The historic hydrogen production facilities were much larger than existing ones, but that could change really fast. They were located in Norway because of the abundance of cheap hydro-power, combined with the scientific interest in heavy water for the nuclear industry and other more down-to-earth applications of industrial hydrogen. The main challenge is to improve efficiency from currently 80% into 9x%, reduce cost and increase output. All the signs are that the hydrogen economy could have a new lease on life.

[] – The world’s most efficient and reliable electrolyser
[] – Nel Hydrogen about
[] – Large scale hydrogen-production
[deepresource] – 700 MW Renewable Hydrogen Plant to be Built in France
[] – Hydrogen economy
[] – Hydrogen station
[] – Hydrogen production
[] – Hydrogen fuel
[] – Hydrogen, don’t give up!
[] – Sintef
[deepresource] – The Netherlands is Placing its Bets on the Hydrogen Economy
[] – Nel-CEO Løkke im Exklusiv-Interview

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