A lot of very serious people like to talk about the cost of deploying hydrogen infrastructure. They go on at length about why America can’t afford to invest in any new infrastructure given the state of current international markets. For those tasked with supporting sustainability, a bigger infrastructure challenge has been the move from low-pressure liquids to high-pressure hydrogen gases.
Like many post-Globalization concerns, hydrogen convergence is not just an economic issue (i.e. a funding problem). On the other hand, hydrogen convergence is also not just a series of technical challenges. For those tasked with supporting sustainability, hydrogen convergence is a design movement that sits neatly at the post-Globalization crossroads between technology and economics (i.e. techno economic).
As you know, the benefits of compressing gases like hydrogen for use in vehicles stems from the ability to conserve space. So as the pressure goes up the size of the hydrogen tanks needed gets smaller. This leads to challenges that include but are not limited to the following: compressors that will handle high-pressures, hydrogen tanks that will maintain high-pressures without leaking, and safety procedures to protect the general public.
Companies like McPhy Energy have inserted themselves directly into the middle of this conversation by introducing hydride-based hydrogen storage systems for use in cars and service stations. According to UC Davis’ Chemwiki, “The term hydride is commonly named after binary compounds that hydrogen forms with other elements of the periodic table.” Fortunately, these processes don’t require high-pressures and can be reversed.
Horizon Fuel Cell is another cutting edge company that sells hydride-based hydrogen storage systems to consumers. In fact, they sell a palm size hydrogen fuel cell charging system that provides considerably more power than traditional batteries for the same space. For those tasked with supporting sustainability, this represents just one more example of why early investment in hydrogen convergence makes sense.