Three principles form the foundation of the HYPER lab:
- What we learn (our curiosity),
- What we do (our engineering), and
- What we teach (our professionalism).
This learn one, do one, teach one foundation is the cyclical heartbeat of HYPER’s continuous improvement today through 2030. It is this process that confidently maps learning experiences into our consciousness. Our 2030 vision is to be our best at developing engineering talent, and likely the best in the Western US. This will be demonstrated by breakthroughs we make to liquid hydrogen technologies, our training of hydrogen professionals, and the services we provide to industry.
Few, if any, engineering topics are more in-demand than cryogenic hydrogen. The new Federal Hydrogen Infrastructure Bill and associated Research & Development (R&D) will increase the federal hydrogen budget by ~40x. Multiple recent studies agree with industrial practice that liquid hydrogen is a superior way to distribute hydrogen despite no dedicated research program since the 1970’s. As humanity looks to hydrogen, and specifically liquid hydrogen anew, we are prepared to make fundamental technology advancements on the following topics:
- Small Modular Liquefiers – Current hydrogen liquefiers operate at less than 30% of theoretical efficiency and cost >$100M to construct. Our concepts will enable liquefaction of hydrogen from islanded renewable energy farms, including offshore wind turbines, and eliminate boil-off from liquid hydrogen storage facilities.
- Zero-Boil-Off Storage – Current liquid hydrogen storage tanks have losses averaging between 7-40% from expensive, multi-walled stainless steel storage vessels. Our advances in additive manufacture and origami fuel bladders will enable SML technology to be incorporated into light-weight, additively manufactured storage containers with zero-boil-off.
- Advanced Distribution – With the above improvements in liquefaction and storage, distribution and dispensing of liquid hydrogen into vehicles will be substantially easier. Advances such as cryogenic thermal compression in additively manufactured components allow new dispensing architectures to morph towards thermodynamic optimums. We will demonstrate this advanced distribution technology in Pullman via the first university-based liquid hydrogen freight logistics hub in the US.
- New Vehicular Applications – Humanity’s challenge has never been the ability to produce hydrogen, it’s over 70% of the known universe. The limitation has always been our ability to store and distribute hydrogen. Our new deployable hydrogen liquefiers disrupt this paradigm. Humanity can now begin novel vehicular applications for liquid hydrogen at substantially lower development costs and timelines. Some of the applications specific to WSU include: liquid hydrogen fueled aerospace vehicles, liquid hydrogen fueled semitrucks, and liquid hydrogen fueled agriculture equipment.
Reliance on half-century old technology will not prepare us to enter the next century. Climate change and our international collaborators are not waiting. These are the technological keystones to unlock hydrogen for humanity. The time to fundamentally change liquid hydrogen is now.
Few, if any, technical fields are more demanding of a comprehensive engineering skillset than cryogenic hydrogen. Our learn-one, do-one, teach-one mantra is essential to training new personnel with the necessary skillset to work in this area: from safety planning to non-linear thermal analysis, to mechanics of brittle materials, to precision instrumentation, to lean manufacturing, and much more. Our new co-located facility allows us to loop together the runs of the TRL advancement ladder while minimizing waste to do research, development, and training more efficiently than ever. To do what was unimaginable both effectively and efficiently. To address the requirements of a build so early, that we have time for the bonus serendipities leading to the creative breakthroughs that no-one could have imagined. That is when we can do more than the sum of our efforts as individuals. We have done this with non-hydrogen projects in the lab and the time is right for HYPER to make it look easy.
But the growth in this area is anticipated to be too great for us to do this alone. My professional leave is culminating in a new textbook on liquid hydrogen technologies for the International Cryogenic Monographs Series. My plan is to use this text as the spine of a new graduate level cryogenic hydrogen engineering course, offered through the WSU Global Campus, that will serve as a technical training breakthrough. In concert with this, I’m in discussions to begin offering a hands-on liquid hydrogen safety credential – the first of it’s kind in the US. We already know the inherent safety attributes of hydrogen in our lab, but it is time to really show these attributes to the public. This paired course and credential will bring professional engineers to the Pullman Campus to learn these skills, gain hands-on training with liquid hydrogen, and experience our community’s freakishly awesome engineering achievements.
Since 2010 we’ve carved our niche as the only cryogenic hydrogen research laboratory in US Academia. We now have a full array of cryogenic hydrogen test facilities for: material load and fatigue testing (CRAFT), cryogenic pulse analysis (Cool Vibrations), cryogenic permeation (CCC), ortho-parahydrogen analysis (CHEF), thermophysical property analysis (THERM), and deployable liquefaction (MHGU). With these experiments reaching maturity in our new lab space, our organizational structure can pivot from pairing teams with specific experimental facilities to teams paired with project goals and access to all our facilities. By January of 2023 each of our eight experimental facilities will have a reservation system with quick kits to convert between standard measurement types. This change enables greater standardization of HYPER’s service center offerings to industry to become a breakthrough testing center for cryogenics.
Once we achieve this vision, we will be delivering our best by 2030 and it will be time to transfer our energy on to others in many ways. Having seen the last 12 years, and what we’ve amassed for the next, you’ll want to be part of the action: Jacob.firstname.lastname@example.org.