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Hydrogen Infrastructure

Producing hydrogen via electrolysis during times of high renewable power generation for subsequent use in fuel cell electric vehicles allows the coupling between the electricity and mobility sectors. However, a centralized electrolysis process is both spatially and temporally uncorrelated from the hydrogen demand at refueling stations. Additionally, the requirements of fuel cells for high hydrogen purity impose further restrictions on the efficient utilization of hydrogen as an energy carrier. Therefore, the development of new infrastructure for temporal storage and spatial distribution of hydrogen, as well as the deployment of corresponding purification units is necessary. In our department we develop models for the analysis and evaluation of such infrastructure components and design optimal system solutions. Selected assessment tools include Matlab® and Python for modeling and QGIS for georeferencing.

Hydrogen InfrastructureCopyright: IEK-3, Forschungszentrum Jülich

Hydrogen pipeline networks

Pipeline NetworkHydrogen pipeline network for Germany
Copyright: IEK-3, Forschungszentrum Jülich

Pipeline networks constitute one of the most promising options to connect hydrogen production sites and refueling stations. At IEK-3, we develop tools for designing cost-optimal hydrogen pipeline systems using proven optimization algorithms. The routes of the pipelines are based on preexisting gas and street routes. For initial evaluations, the provided tools are based on elementary graph theoretical methods, while, for more advanced detail engineering, full thermodynamic flow properties of hydrogen are taken into account and genetic algorithms are applied. For compliance with international standards, recommendations on the pipeline material for hydrogen transport are made as well. Hence, our models can provide safe and cost efficient designs of pipeline networks that can satisfy a variety of hydrogen demand scenarios.

Hydrogen storage

In hydrogen infrastructure design, small and large scale hydrogen storage is required to overcome the temporal gap between times of high and low hydrogen production. Hydrogen storage options can be divided into two categories: hydrogen stored in molecular form (e.g. cryogenic tanks for liquid hydrogen, pressure vessels or underground storage units) versus hydrogen stored in bonded form (e.g. liquid organic hydrogen carriers or transition metal hydrides) which can be stored in regular vessels under atmospheric pressure. Molecular storage of hydrogen constitutes the current state of the art for hydrogen storage. To analyze hydrogen’s deployment in infrastructures, technical and economic assessments are conducted at the Process and Systems Analysis (VSA) department. This includes developing tools for thermodynamic analysis and the simulation of storage and withdrawal processes. However, due to geographical reasons, the large scale storage of hydrogen in its molecular form is not always applicable. Therefore, various storage options (including bonded storage) are investigated at the VSA to identify cost and energy efficient hydrogen pathways.

Hydrogen Purification

The employment of hydrogen in fuel cells and its associated infrastructure, e.g. pipelines, storage systems and compressors, is accompanied by strict purity requirements. In order to meet these purity requirements, suitable purification units for hydrogen are investigated at the VSA and their economic impact on the hydrogen infrastructure is assessed.

Hydrogen PurificationProcess flow chart of a temperature swing adsorption plant
Copyright: IEK-3, Forschungszentrum Jülich