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Hydrogen Properties for Energy Research (HYPER) Lab News

Support and a mission from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust

It is my pleasure to announce that the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust has awarded our H2-Refuel team a $60k (+$60k WSU match) Commercialization Gap award to prototype and commercialize our hydrogen fueling station concept. The Program Director, Dr. Moses Lee, specifically stated:

“This grant will be made to Washington State University in honor of the late President Floyd. He was a great and well-regarded man who has done tremendous service to WSU and the State. His vision and legacy will live on. The Trust and our Trustees thought our support of this excellent project is a good way to honor him.”

This builds on support from the Washington Research Foundation ($20k) and the Light Air Mobile Shelter (LAMS) unit ($80k) from Insitu, Inc.

President Floyd’s impact on my research is incredible. It was his student achievement fund that directly enabled the Genii liquid hydrogen fueled UAV project 4 years ago. Although that project has been over for 2 years now, it was ultimately the catalyst for this work and I’m sure much more to come. Thank you M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust and the WSU Office of Commercialization, Office of Research, and Interim President Bernardo for making this grant possible. We’ve got the legacy of a phenomenal human being to honor.

Introducing, and bidding farewell to Dr. Jake Fisher

Congratulations to Jake Fisher on successfully passing his thesis defense! He is the first Ph.D. student to graduate from the HYPER laboratory and the first graduate student to start with the lab back in 2010. He’s moving on to start a small business related to cryogenic equipment manufacturing and consumer products in Redmond.

Read the full story of the achievement on his alumnus page.

Generating hydrogen without platinum – solved!

This one is big: Researchers at Stanford University have demonstrated a novel Nickel-Iron-Oxide based catalyst for generating hydrogen from water. The article appeared June 23rd in Nature Communications. They succeeded at operating the cell for 200 hours near the thermodynamic efficiency limit of 82 % without degradation–higher than the Iridium-Platinum rare-earth based catalyst performance. Until now I’ve been quoting electrolyzer efficiencies in the 50-60% range. Since nickel and iron are abundant in the earth, this could be the major solution to a primary issue with hydrogen electrolysis: where to get all of the expensive catalyst materials (usually platinum). I’ve recently given talks where folks presented serious and valid issues with platinum mining.

This is even more evidence that the bottleneck in the hydrogen supply chain is not the point of generation anymore — it’s increasing the valid of the hydrogen once produced for storage and distribution. Our new hydrogen liquefaction system we’re seeking to develop will go a long ways to solving this last issue and enabling the HOW of a Hydrogen Organized World.

Seattle is waking up to hydrogen’s future in the Northwest

The Seattle Times recently posted a user testimony of the Hyundai Tucson hydrogen fuel cell vehicle:

Sadly, the closest fueling station to Seattle is in San Francisco. Let’s take this moment and think about Seattle’s commute and the zero-emission options.

Seattle's Electrified buses

Downtown Seattle is extensively electrified for trolley buses. Aside from the mountain of copper it took to run the wires, that’s great for the environment, not so great for tourism or the pocket book. Electrification of just Seattle Metro Route 48 for electric trolleys is estimated to cost $363 million!! While that may give many sticker shock, operation of conventional hybrid buses is estimated at $345 million over a 30 year period. To put this into perspective, we could build over 700 of our winning hydrogen fuel stations with that amount of money. Which do you think will drive a bigger dent in our State’s fossil fuel use?

Granted, we still have technological hurdles to overcome for a viable hydrogen economy in Washington State. Generating hydrogen from our curtailed wind is an important first step. But when looking at the cost of the sustainable transportation alternatives, and the average distance of commute in the rapidly growing Puget Sound area, Washington State can hardly afford not to look at hydrogen as a primary transportation method in the near future.

Spread the word!

Last Friday I sent the following message to all students, faculty, and staff in the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture at WSU:

It is my pleasure to announce the formation of WSU’s H2Refuel team. The team is competing for a Department of Energy $1 million prize competition to develop an in-home or community based hydrogen vehicle refueling system.

We will leverage our prior win in the 2014 Hydrogen Student Design Competition to develop a drop-in hydrogen refueling station, 2nd place in the 2012 Hydrogen Student Design Challenge to generate heat, hydrogen, and power for the local campus, and development of the Genii Liquid Hydrogen fueled Unmanned Aerial System (UAS/drone).

Our novel approach is to develop the first ever efficient (>30% of ideal), small (<1 MW), modular hydrogen liquefaction system utilizing WSU patent pending technologies for vortex liquefaction and cryogenic thermal compression. Regardless of the competition, if we are successful in developing this technology we will change the paradigm of clean energy storage for the betterment of humanity.

If you want to be a part of this effort, show up to our inaugural meeting on Monday at 3 pm in Thermal Fluids Research Building (TFRB) 108 (through the double doors on the northwest side of TFRB). If you cannot make the meeting but still want to be involved, sign up for the team’s Slack channel by sending me an e-mail.

In 3 days we had 3 staff, 4 faculty, and 20 students volunteer their support towards our effort!!! In less than 1 day on the team, over half of the students worked throughout the day refurbishing our design suite within our 5000 square foot build space in the Thermal Fluids Research Building (TFRB). In short, we have the people, space, and ideas to accomplish the improbable. An advance that can not only enable the coming fleet of hydrogen fueled vehicles, but provide an alternative renewable energy storage technology for windfarms or micro-grid/islands.

So it’s your turn to spread the word. It takes $3,600 to fund an engineer at $15/hour, 20 hours a week for the rest of summer. It’s this or fast food. All that lies between this group and throwing open the doors on the hydrogen economy is your support. Help us out here.

Washington State University