By Gary Thomas
Proton OnSite, a provider of hydrogen energy and gas solutions, has achieved gas production at 5,000 psi without a compressor using hydrogen electrolyzer technology.
The achievement was through a project with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), which has led to the production of a proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyzer stack.
Generation of hydrogen gas at 5,000 psi is required for refueling vehicles. To achieve this, compressors are attached to the refuelers. The new technology without the need of a compressor increases the affordability of the fuel. Compressors require significant capital and maintenance. Doing away with this investment will enable hydrogen refueling stations to reduce fuel costs and provide these savings to vehicle owners.
The high-differential pressure PEM stack releases the oxygen gas which goes out at atmospheric pressure. In the electrolyzers, a current is passed through a solid polymer electrolyte. This electrolyte draws a hydrogen proton through the membrane from water that has been deionized. At the other end of the membrane these ions combine to produce hydrogen gas. The oxygen is left on the other side. This technology is being applied in reverse for fuel cells used in automobiles.
Phase I part of the collaboration commenced in February 2010 and Phase II is expected end in August 2012.