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

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 …

Could smaller hydrogen liquefiers be better?

This is a pre-print of my October 2020 article for Cold Facts Magazine by the Cryogenic Society of America.

Although the minimum work to liquefy hydrogen is 3.92 kWh/kg,[1] the current best performance for industrial scale hydrogen liquefiers is near 10 kWh/kg. In other words, the best hydrogen liquefiers are only achieving 40% of the theoretically possible efficiency. This energy cost to liquefy hydrogen is approximately 30% the energy content of the fuel at the lower heating value. Given the current trends towards renewable energy and low carbon content of cool electro-fuels like hydrogen, humanity is overdue for fundamental innovations in hydrogen … » More …

Reflections on privilege, decadence, and my life to become an academic

It’s Labor Day weekend and the beginning of the third week of a quarantined fall semester due to COVID-19. Over the last couple of weeks our community was home to considerable displays of decadence — parties of 100s without social distancing or facial coverings. Now the National Guard is coming to town to help cope with the surge of COVID-19 cases. Pullman topped the New York Times list of highest percentage of COVID-19 cases per capita on Labor Day. I hear the increased frequency of the Medivac helicopter flying over my house transporting people to Spokane; reminding me of the day I nearly lost my … » More …

How we master engineering through daily practice

“How do you practice to perform as an engineer?” — HYPER lab mentor PK Northcutt II

The question was simple and sincere. But I (Jake Leachman) had no answer. I had been an ‘engineer’ for over a decade and was now teaching others to be ‘engineers’, but I had nothing. With a decade of experience practicing football, shotput and discus, Jazz trombone, you name it; I had practiced for decades but could not identify a singular act or trait in engineering that could be considered deliberate ‘practice’ as I had, well, practiced with these other professional performances. Sure I’d given students homework problems to do … » More …

Learning how to say thank you, from one professional to another


Looking back over my life a consistent thread has emerged with the people I’ve tried to keep around — they know how to say thank you, or express gratitude, in memorable ways. Although this could be a nuance particular to me, my guess is you’ve noticed similar trends in your life. So why is it we so often struggle to say thanks as a community? How am I supposed to teach aspiring professionals to say thank you, professionally and appropriately, to other professionals? I … » More …