Many of the physical aspects of the PowerTap Gen 2 design will be incorporated into the new PowerTap Gen 3. However, there are areas where the PowerTap™ Gen-3 will differ greatly. Utilizing a “whole station” approach to include compression, storage and dispensing, and the development of a split system design, which will double the reliability and production of the system. The replacement of high-pressure storage with liquid storage not only improves safety but reduces the overall footprint and station compression requirements.
Finally, the PowerTap™ Gen-3 for the first time will also address carbon capture utilizing CO2 fuel cell technology as well as other new technologies developed both with Tersus and NASA, which will provide numerous benefits. It will eliminate almost 100% of the CO2 in the Flue Gas of the PowerTap™ Gen-3. It will provide all of the electrical power required to operate the fueling station, in essence eliminating one of the three legs of feedstock required to produce Hydrogen. It could provide addition carbon credits as well as additional income by sending excess power back to the grid.
Additionally there are changes such as seeking UL Lab certification to reduce the time needed to permit individual locations. Finally and most importantly, it takes PowerTap™ Gen-3 from Grey Hydrogen to Blue Hydrogen potentially making it the Greenest Hydrogen available in the U.S market when one considers the full life-cycle of hydrogen production and delivery to the consumer.
Modular Design Elements
The modular design concept allows for large scale manufacturing and the elimination of unnecessary duplicated components as found under the current single cabinet production model which greatly reduces overall cost. The single cabinet production model breaks the unit into three sections – the desulfurization, fuel processing and the pressure swing absorption module. Each of these modules is designed and dedicated to combine to form one operating steam methane reformer. The newly designed station in contrast will consist of four separate modules that will support production from 625Kg to 5000Kg without the duplication of components. The modules are the desulfurization, fuel processing, pressure swing absorption and liquid hydrogen storage.
The first module is the desulfurization module used primarily to remove impurities in the gas and water which make up the system’s feedstock. The separate design and manufacturing of this module will allow us to develop a single module that can support fueling stations from 625Kg up to 1250Kg. Additionally breaking the one for one relationship between the desulfurization unit and the fuel processing unit greatly reduces manufacturing cost by eliminating unnecessary duplication of components as in the single cabinet module. This can largely be accomplished by right sizing the unit to support the higher capacity 1250Kg fueling station and utilizing a number of program logic controllers to regulate the flow of feedstock to the fuel processing units so a single module could support a 625Kg up to 1250Kg per day fuel station.
Fuel Processing Module
The fuel processing module is the heart of the steam methane reformer and therefore will play a central role in the design of future fueling stations. Currently in the single cabinet design model there is only one fuel processor unit per SMR. The new design will allow for the configuration to support multiple fuel processing units giving us a number of options to support different site fueling requirements from 625, 1250, 2500, or even in the future 5000Kg. The module physical size will be adjusted based on the number of fuel processing units required to meet the designed capacity for the given site. The module could scale from as little as five feet in length to over ten feet in modules supporting more than two fuel processing units. Another advantage to this approach is the elimination of multiple steam generation and catalyst units. By resizing these units we can support multiple fuel processing units with a single steam generator and catalyst unit. The ratio of steam generators to fuel processor will be driven by the overall capacity specified in the fuel station design. Once again, this change allows us to respond to various capacity requirements without redesigning or retooling our manufacturing environment. This greatly increases the opportunity to deploy units and drives down our manufacturing cost.
The changes will cross over most of the areas including metallurgical, chemical science and process automation in order to meet our goals without significantly increasing the horizontal footprint of the existing fuel processor unit. These changes must also take into consideration the system’s overall longevity, with a goal of increasing it to 100,000 hours from the current life span of 40,000 hours. That would give us a two hundred and fifty percent increase in longevity.
This will be accomplished by increasing the tube’s length and diameter, while adjusting the thickness of the tube walls, the type and number of heating elements and by utilizing the science Metal Matrix Composites in their construction. The current catalyst needs to be thoroughly evaluated and tested against more efficient types that have been developed over the past ten years.
Pressure Swing Absorption Module
The pressure swing absorption module, for all practical purposes, takes the hydrogen from the fuel processing unit and cleans it up prior to cryogenics and storage in a liquid form. This section may also house the 700 bar compressor units which are currently specified as positive displacement compressors which tend to require significantly more maintenance and can be a source of impurities being introduced into the dispensed hydrogen as well as a source of unwanted heat. Our design calls for the replacement of this technology with an electrochemical compression unit, which is a solid state device that requires little or no maintenance. This single factor serves us well in two ways. First, the reduced maintenance equals lower cost of goods. Second, less maintenance equals less down time which again reduces opportunity cost losses. The electrochemical technology, unlike the positive displacement compressor, does not introduce impurities into the dispensed fuel, which ultimately will extend the life of the fuel cells that we refuel. Additionally there is no added heat component.
Much thought has gone into this subject as the storing of hydrogen in a gas or liquid form has many tradeoffs and must be evaluated carefully. In the original PT50 design the hydrogen was stored in gas form in LH2 tanks local to the SMR. The problem being tanks take up a lot of space and greatly increase the overall footprint of the fueling station. As you might surmise, the larger the footprint the fewer placement opportunities in preexisting fueling stations. Secondarily storing hydrogen under pressure has the greatest risk for a catastrophic failure, a scenario we must avoid at all cost, as the safety of the general public must come first.
The other planning falls into the storage of hydrogen in a liquid form, at a temperature of -253 C in dewars or tanks. The obstacle here is keeping hydrogen cool enough to remain in a liquid state and not boil off and return to a gas like state. We are currently working with Cryotek, a direct contractor to NASA, located at the Kennedy Space center in Florida. They design and advise NASA on all things hydrogen and bring to the table a number of unique technologies that could substantially reduce both the cost and the overall footprint size of our hydrogen storage needs. It is important to note that capacity to produce and storage do not have to have a one to one relationship, as storage should be thought of as a way to make up for deficits in production, not long term holding and storage, since that is an expense we do not need to incur.
Engineering and manufacturing Teams
These Include Ivy’s Energy Solutions, whose founders were the original designers of the PowerTap solution. Cryotek is a NASA based hydrogen consulting firm specializing in liquid hydrogen storage solutions and all things hydrogen. PDC manufacturing is a UL approved manufacturing facility with years of experience in manufacturing hydrogen related systems and has worked closely with Cryotek. In addition, we have a number of highly credentialed consultants with direct experience in the automotive and gas and oil industry assisting us in this ongoing project. This plan is innovative and cost effective while being capable of being manufactured on a large scale and easily deployed. This is where the “Hydrogen Highway begins” keep your hands and feet inside the project while it is in motion. This could be the ride of a lifetime.