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Hydrogen Properties for Energy Research (HYPER) Laboratory Cool. Fuel.

Join the CHARGE! — The Consortium for Hydrogen and Renewably Generated Electrofuels at WSU

I’m all charged up this morning about CHARGE — Washington State University’s (WSU’s) new Consortium for Hydrogen and Renewably Generated Electrofuels.

What is an electrofuel?

A high-value, storable, energy product created from hydrogen generated by renewable means like electricity, wind, or solar power. With no fossil fuel resources in the state, Washington has the potential to use electrofuels to eliminate carbon emissions across multiple sectors:

Why WSU?

A couple of years ago I looked around the country for a center specifically devoted towards hydrogen and electrofuels … » More …

Living hinges can be really cool

This is a preprint of my February column “Cool Fuel” in Cold Facts Magazine by the Cryogenic Society of America.

In the June issue of ColdFacts (V. 36, No. 3 2020) I talked about how we’re learning to be more flexible while keeping our cool (a nod to the pandemic). The fun take away though was the realization that thin film polymer origami bellows could flex 100’s of times immersed in liquid nitrogen without fracturing – my new favorite liquid nitrogen (LN2) demonstration. But it didn’t last long (as my favorite demo that is) due to Francis Dunne, a new PhD student in … » More …

Why liquid hydrogen?

I’m continually surprised that the HYPER lab remains the only cryogenic hydrogen research lab in US academia. But then again, I find myself continually having to fight for liquid hydrogen, even to hydrogen experts. Hydrogen liquefies at atmospheric pressure only after cooling below 20 K (-420°F), you cannot liquefy hydrogen by increasing pressure. This requirement to make something that cold (a.k.a. cryogenics) is technically challenging. However, in 2012, liquid hydrogen accounted for over 90% of small merchant hydrogen utilization in the US. Yet, only a few legacy companies have the knowledge base necessary to handle liquid hydrogen, and the last academic lab in the US … » More …

How the alumni changed me for the better

Last week I had the pleasure of talking with Jenna Kriebel and AnneMarie Hunter from the WSU Foundation about the impact of alumni donations and philanthropy for the HYPER laboratory (and my career). Throughout my collegiate experience, first as a student athlete and now faculty, I’ve benefited from the generous donations of Land-Grant alumni. Yes, the Land-Grant institutions are public and state supported, but that public support is often literally the general minimum, which sometimes just isn’t enough. Although I’ve written about the many moments that alumni support was perfectly timed to make a difference in keeping us afloat, the conversation with Jenna and … » More …

Leidenfrost Dusting as a Novel Tool for Dust Mitigation

Lunar dust is an extremely abrasive material that can critically damage and compromise electronics, clothing, and life support systems. In addition, Astronaut Harrison Schmitt and others experienced an ailment they described as "lunar hay fever" from inhalation of lunar dust. Previous removal techniques using brushes, vacuums, and other fluid washes proved ineffective. These methods provided insufficient dust removal and often could damage systems. However, we may have found a solution using the dusting effect of cryogenic liquids. » More ...

Systemic Logistics of a Hydrogen Economy Part 2: The Production Problem

In this multi-part series I’m considering the many logistical challenges of the upcoming hydrogen economy. In Part 1 I considered the people necessary to start and sustain the hydrogen economy. In the subsequent parts/posts I’ll follow the hydrogen through the logistical supply chain to end use. This post is on hydrogen production. Transfer will be Part 3. End use will be Part 4.

Let me be up front that my expertise is hydrogen properties, storage, and distribution (i.e. logistics), and not production. Back in 2005 I saw everyone running into the production and power side (performance minded folks have a tendency towards power) and … » More …

Systemic Logistics of a Hydrogen Economy Part 1: The People Problem

Welcome 2021 and the World’s new hope for climate salvation: hydrogen.

Since developing the fundamental hydrogen property codes 15 years ago I’ve been waiting for hydrogen to have it’s moment. Despite all of the new press and excitement from folks suddenly interested in hydrogen, I’m here to say that we’re still going to be waiting many more years for hydrogen’s moment to finally arrive. This is evidenced by the many open questions being asked about the future hydrogen economy. We, as a community of stakeholders, still have not addressed many major challenges facing the hydrogen economy. If the ongoing pandemic and struggling vaccine rollout are … » More …

Hydrogen in Aerospace

When the HYPER lab was founded in 2010, our inaugural project here in the heartland of the aerospace industry, was to build the first liquid hydrogen fueled drone by a university team. Genii, short for the Latin Pondus Hydrogenii (a.k.a. ph, the hydrogen potential) was designed for a 1 kW proton exchange membrane fuel cell and lithium ion batteries. Our reasons for aerospace as a founding lab focus are clear: 1. Washington State is the #1 aerospace state in the US. 2. Aerospace is one of the most challenging sectors to decarborize (as described in this 2020 McKinsey report). 3. The weight and power curves of hydrogen fuel technologies shown in the preceding section are close to ideal for typical aircraft. 4. The solid state drive train of hydrogen fuel cell technologies is more reliable, quieter, has lower thermal signature, and higher excess power available for instruments than other technologies. 5. The logistics of hydrogen fuel allow for production on the deck of aircraft carriers or in other remote locations as long as water and electricity are available. » More ...

How To Engage With Professionals

In collaboration with Jacob Leachman.

Today I got lucky, I received the opportunity for a redo without having to face any consequences. I logged on to a zoom call expecting to meet with a professional and I was drastically underprepared. As a testament to my lack of preparation, I soon learned that our meeting was actually scheduled for next week. I took a deep breath, realizing that I would get a second chance. As a student, my goal is to learn, not just about hydrogen, but to absorb the knowledge and skills necessary to become a professional myself. Writing this blog post will serve as … » More …

Reasons to be thankful extracted from reference letters

Phrases I’m thankful for extracted from the reference letters I’ve written for the lab over the years:

“the quiet type that finishes everything they started.”

“I soon discovered that the majority of our recent hires applied because of them.”

“They quickly became a go-to member who could be relied upon.”

“They knew how to ask the types of questions that really engaged me.”

“Instead of asking for direction, they proposed paths and requested feedback.”

“They demonstrated continuous improvement by posting a plan, then improving on the plan for others.”

“They often saved time via quick calculations before heading to the lab.”

“Asked whether they are … » More …