A new alloy is reinventing an old technology and making engineers take a second look at hydrogen storage. GKN explores the role metal hydrides play to ensure safe and reliable zero-emission energy storage for residential applications.
Zero emissions and energy from renewable sources – Energy storage becomes key
The strong demand for CO₂ reduction has become a driver for more energy being produced from renewable resources.
With our sintered metal parts and components, we are helping the electrification of the automotive industry that is reaching out for lightweight and thermal-improved solutions. But there is more our technology can do to help establish a greener power supply from renewable sources that faces three key challenges:
- Sustainable local energy generation
- Efficient transfer of energy
- Effective and safe storage of energy
How to overcome local energy storage limitations
The most efficient way to use energy from solar panels or other renewable sources is to generate and store the energy locally in a decentralized system directly with the energy consumer.
By lacking decentralized and affordable storage systems, the energy is mainly fed to the public electricity grid rather than being used locally. On many occasions, sustainably generated energy is not used. This is because the energy availability does not meet the requirements for reliable and predictive supply through the public grids. Direct local usage requires a more efficient energy transfer and storage.
In a local system, excess electricity from photovoltaic solar panels or other sustainable sources is stored during the day and used through the night. Batteries are the current state-of-the-art technology for daytime energy buffers. Cost per kWH is continuously dropping, but still remains high. In addition, battery cost rises quickly when creating a buffer for seasonal energy storage, as well as aspects of safety and required space become critical.
How do you store Hydrogen?
High specific strength
Hydrogen is normally stored in two ways:
- For stationary applications, hydrogen is stored in pressure vessels around 40 bar
- For mobile applications, hydrogen is stored in pressure vessels over 300 bar
Compressing hydrogen consumes large amounts of energy. GKN challenged our engineers to find a more efficient solution. They developed a new metal alloy powder from hydrides. By compacting the alloy powder into a high-density pellet, we created an efficient solid-state storage material for hydrogen gas.
For the same amount of energy capacity, we can use a vessel working at only 30 bar that will require less energy for cooling, and is up to ten times smaller compared to a 40 bar tank of a standard system. Reducing the required size for the storage vessels offered the opportunity to realize another benefit of the GKN Hydrogen Storage System. We not only want to buffer energy from night to daytime, but we are taking the next step on the challenge of seasonal energy buffering from summer to winter.