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Metal Hydride H2 Compressors

Metal Hydride H2 Compressors

Hydrogen is one of the highest energy dense fuels known to man.  For majority of the practical applications, it needs to be used either in the gas or liquid form.  Low pressure hydrogen storage would require very large storage tanks or cylinders, which is not feasible for commercial use or commercial product development. Hence, it is desired to pressurize and store the hydrogen gas inside another medium (metal hydride, carbon composite tanks, etc.) prior to its usage.

Hydrogen gas can be compressed to higher pressures with various equipment/hardware such as reciprocating piston hydrogen compressors, ionic liquid piston hydrogen compressors, piston-metal diaphragm hydrogen compressors, guided rotor hydrogen compressors, linear hydrogen compressors, hydride hydrogen compressors, and electrochemical hydrogen compressors.

Majority of the conventional compressors are based on mechanical movement of pistons or diaphragms, which consumes large amounts of energy, yields low efficiencies, and introduces safety/lifetime issues at high pressures.  Metal hydride hydrogen compressors, on the other hand, have distinct advantages over traditional compressors such as simplicity in design and operation, absence of moving parts, compactness, safety, and reliability and the possibility of utilizing waste industrial heat instead of grid electricity.

Operating principle of metal hydride H2 compressors

Metal hydride hydrogn compression method utilizes a reversible heat-driven interaction of hydride-forming metal alloy or intermetallic compound with hydrogen gas to for the corresponding metal hydride and is considered as a very promosing application for hydrogen energy systems. Usually, low pressure hydrogen is charged into the metal alloy or intermetallic compound at very low pressures (1-10 bars) at ambient to cold temperatures.  Thus, hydrogen storage using metal hydride approach is intrensically safe and benefits from avoiding use of compressed hydrogen (during the first step).  Simply changing the temperature during the step allow a precise control of the output pressure, which can be done easily via most common engineering practices.  This method eliminated the need to purify the hydrogen becuase it produces ultra-pure hydrogen.

Some of the applications that can benefit from this technology are the followings:

  • Chemical processing plants
  • Hydrogen purification
  • Hydrogen filing station (for transportantion applications)
  • Heat pumps
  • Hydrogen storage, and etc.