Plug Power, a New York-based manufacturer of hydrogen engines and fuelling solutions has partnered with Washington State University’s Hydrogen Properties for Energy Research Labs to develop cryogenic hydrogen cooling technology.

The cryogenic cooling technology created through the partnership will focus on one of the largest logistical issues of delivering hydrogen at scale: efficient storage and transfer.

The proposed sub-cooling solution will enable improvements to the transportation and storage of liquid hydrogen to fuelling stations, enabling fleet vehicle customers to achieve lower fuel costs. 

The technology being developed allows compressed hydrogen to swirl in a vortex, where a catalytic reaction unique to hydrogen causes cooling at cryogenic temperatures.

Optimising the reaction to operate with supercritical hydrogen has the potential to reduce the cost and efficiency of small, distributed liquid hydrogen systems as well as aid in low boil-off and heat mitigation challenges relevant to Plug Power and its customers.

“In the near future, demand from the fast-growing fuel cell vehicle (FCV) market will outpace the current hydrogen fuel supply because of issues related to transportation, infrastructure, and storage,” said Andy Marsh, Plug Power CEO.

“This important research will also play a part in advancing the on-road FCV market adoption by lowering operation costs, which makes FCVs not only clean and efficient, but affordable for organisations as well.”

The team are currently in phase one of the three phase project, where they are advancing their fundamental understanding of the technology at cryogenic temperatures at the university’s lab.

The next phases will also take place at the lab, where analytical modelling will be developed and validated to ensure the design is optimised for Plug Power’s cryogenic hydrogen applications.

Finally, a field test will take place on full scale Plug Power hydrogen storage systems to validate operational performance improvements.

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