The above map shows the seven US hydrogen hub awardees announced on Oct 13th along with the proposed hydrogen facility locations. Total public and private investment in this initiative is nearly $50 billion USD.
Approximately two-thirds of that investment will be for hydrogen production via renewables and water electrolysis. The remaining investment will be in methods that use various hydrocarbons as feedstocks and capture any resulting carbon byproducts for utilization and/or storage.
There is a vociferous (and legitimate) debate about the appropriate balance among these approaches for hydrogen production. Each method has perceived advantages and disadvantages in terms of infrastructure scaling, cost reductions, and greenhouse gas impacts. As the hydrogen hubs evolve, more data will become available to assess this balance. We'll take a look at this topic in more depth in a subsequent post.
For this post, I'd like to focus on two areas where critical gaps exist relevant to the roll out of these new hydrogen hubs: training and standards. There is an urgent need for accessible knowledge and relevant workforce skills, particularly for liquid hydrogen (LH2) systems design and operations.
Experience with compressed gas hydrogen systems has grown significantly over the past several years as it has been tested and deployed in many new applications across a variety of industry sectors. The same is not true for liquid hydrogen. This is a critical issue since many of the hydrogen hubs (if not all of them) will be liquefying, storing, and/or transporting LH2.
Cryogenic liquid hydrogen know-how has historically been highly concentrated among a relatively small number of individuals and organizations. Most of this knowledge is not in the public domain, and what is available is not easily identifiable or accessible to those without LH2 experience.
I've attempted to address this knowledge transfer gap using a variety of methods and venues that are available to anyone on my Training webpage. Specific LH2 resources include (blue highlights are clickable links):
- Workshops and courses taught at various public conferences and internally for organizations. A full set of the workshop slides is available online at no cost.
- Webinar sessions every month that address key topics related to the design, development, and operation of integrated LH2 systems. The sessions are available for 24 hours free viewing on the first Thursday of every month.
- LH2 library of past webinar videos and downloadable slides available with a one-year subscription or as a single session rental. This is the only resource that has a nominal fee to help defray the cost of the Vimeo platform and other free resources that have been generated with no funding support.
- Bonus videos of key topics for getting started on the LH2 learning curve available for viewing any time at no cost.
- Cryogenic Fluid Management report freely accessible online or available in paperback version from Amazon. This is the first report in a planned series that addresses engineering analysis, modeling, and system development and design.
- GitHub public repository of open source cryogenic system analysis algorithms in Python and fully documented using Jupyter notebooks.
- Excel VBA short course notes for engineering analysis and modeling with examples of LH2 system applications. A discussion of open source software tools for this purpose is also provided.
In addition to these training resources, I've also created some additional channels to provide insight into topics and news relevant to liquid hydrogen:
- Global weekly news coverage of LH2 systems being deployed across all industry sectors. Also included are market projections, new research and development, key announcements, engineering details, and other related topics.
- LH2 Era blog containing posts on entrepreneurship and innovation; integration and implementation; strategy and public policy; systems and modeling; training and speaking; and other topics
- Global LH2 systems group on LinkedIn that is open to anyone to join, post, and comment on all things related to liquid hydrogen. This group also serves as a venue for continuous Q&A related to the monthly webinar sessions or any other LH2 relevant questions or issues.
While these resources only scratch the surface of what's needed for LH2 knowledge transfer and workforce training, my hope is that it provides a good starting place. Please consider using any of the above and contributing content based on your own experiences and knowledge where appropriate.
Another area where critical and urgent gaps exist relate to the development of new LH2 standards. There are a great deal of legacy standards that have been developed over the past six decades in the space and defense sector. Other important legacy standards have been developed by various industry and professional organizations over many years.
However, new applications in a variety of industry sectors and regions are driving the development of new standards. These new standards are unfortunately lagging far behind the actual design, build, and deployment of these systems in many cases. There is a need for tools that provide visibility and access to legacy standards and guidelines; integrate standards across multiple industries and organizations; and provide insight into new standards under development.
Such tools would be invaluable to LH2 system developers and standards developers alike. But it's a very difficult challenge to tackle with conventional methods. Fortunately, some new colleagues have introduced me to the potential for another approach: generative artificial intelligence (GenAI).
By curating a selected data set of the appropriate standards, and then training a dedicated GenAI with experts in LH2 systems, it is possible to create a powerful standards-based tool available to users in months instead of years. Not to replace standards, but to accelerate and enhance their development while also giving guidance to users before new or updated standards are released.
I'm currently exploring this possibility with experts in the GenAI field, with plans to reach out to other colleagues working on the relevant LH2 standards. The goal is to be able to ask an LH2 AI tool questions about a specific system under development and get detailed guidance on the standards (and their specific content) to follow for compliance and safe operations. Stay tuned...
Matt Moran is the Managing Member at Moran Innovation LLC, and previous Managing Partner at Isotherm Energy. He's been developing power and propulsion systems for more than 40 years; and break-through liquid, slush, and gaseous hydrogen systems since the mid-1980s. Matt was also the Sector Manager for Energy & Materials in his last position at NASA where he worked for 31 years. He's been a co-founder in seven technology startups; and provided R&D and engineering support to many organizations. Matt has three patents and more than 50 publications including the Cryogenic Fluid Management series. He also leads the monthly LH2 Era™ Webinar.