Industry Team Developing High-Efficiency Hydrogen Compressor

Sustainable Innovations, Inc., Greenway Energy and Savannah River National Laboratory have announced a partnership designed to maximize the benefits of two cutting edge hydrogen compressor technologies by combining them into one hybrid compressor with both high reliability and efficiency.

The companies say the R&D effort will address one of the most stubborn problems plaguing the hydrogen fueling industry—how to cost effectively compress hydrogen for storage on board a vehicle. Conventional compressor technology has proven less than optimal for hydrogen fueling in early fuel cell vehicle markets like California. According to the Department of Energy, the poor reliability of mechanical compressors is related to operating conditions at the hydrogen stations for which mechanical compressors were not designed.

“The goal of the hybrid compressor project is, for the first time, to demonstrate that hydrogen can be efficiently compressed directly to vehicle fueling pressure at significant scale while avoiding the unacceptable downtime and maintenance pitfalls that have hampered mechanical compressors” says Dr. Trent Molter, president and CEO of Sustainable Innovations. “Simply put, we’re demonstrating a better way.”

Engineers plan to integrate Sustainable Innovations’ electrochemical hydrogen compressor with Greenway Energy’s metal hydride compressor, a unit that leverages advanced technology previously developed at the US Department of Energy’s Savannah River National Laboratory. “We believe that this breakthrough integrated system approach leverages the unique high-reliability attributes of each technology to create a long-awaited solution for the hydrogen fueling industry,” says Dr. Scott Greenway, president of Greenway Energy.

Molter says the hydrogen compression solution is scalable and can meet not only current and projected needs for commercial fueling stations, but will also save consumers money and serve as a keystone in addressing climate change.

The US Department of Energy funded the project through its Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.