Skip to main content

Wind-to-Hydrogen Project Video (Text Version)

This text version of the wind-to-hydrogen video describes how electricity from wind turbines is used to produce hydrogen at NREL's National Wind Technology Center.

  Video Audio
1 Meadow with flowers bobbing in wind Sound of light breeze
2 Tree tops moving with the wind Sound of strong wind
3 Wind turbine spinning Sound of strong wind
4 Darkness Silence
5 Bright light bulb Click of a metal pull-string on light bulb
6 Light bulb hanging from a string goes on; light bulb starts bobbing as wind pushes it around "Here's an idea! Since everybody's talking about renewable energy, why doesn't someone find a way to capture the wind! Yes, we have turbines, but you know...the wind doesn't always blow when we need it the most. Hey, it's just an idea..."
7 Xcel Energy and the
National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
"Well, Xcel Energy and the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Lab, or NREL, have teamed up to do just that. They are exploring ways to capture the wind's energy and deliver it more reliably than Mother Nature."
8 Nature showing variable wind "Not that Mother Nature's done anything wrong, but wind is naturally, well, windy."
9 Spinning turbine slowly grinds to a halt "So, while it's one of the least expensive renewable energy sources, it's also rather unreliable."
10 Wind turbines; city lit up at night "Xcel Energy and NREL are testing ways to convert wind energy to hydrogen, which is an energy carrier that can be stored. Then, when energy demand is high, we can use that hydrogen...thereby reducing our need for other energy sources, such as natural gas, oil, and coal."
11 Spinning hydrogen atom "So, how does it work? First, let's talk about hydrogen. Why are we converting wind energy to hydrogen?"
12 Graphic illustration of voice "Hydrogen is the simplest and most abundant element in the universe, but it's almost always found as a compound with other elements. It's an energy carrier, much like electricity, but it's not a primary source of energy, like wind. To use hydrogen, we must extract it from compounds and, until now, that extraction produced greenhouse gasses."
13 Graphic illustration of voice "For example, most hydrogen is ‘reformed' from natural gas or other fossil fuels by stripping the hydrogen atoms out, creating greenhouse gas emissions in the process. Or, hydrogen can be produced by splitting water through electrolysis using sources of electricity, such as fossil fuels, which themselves generate air emissions."
14   "Our entire process is green because we are using wind power to run the emissions-free electrolyzers, and then using that green hydrogen to make green electricity when we need it!"
15 Wind turbine, hydrogen, and light bulb "Basically, this project has the potential to use our least expensive renewable energy source (wind) and convert it using a green process (electrolysis) into storable energy (hydrogen) that we can tap on demand!"
16   "Now that you understand why we like hydrogen, let's take a look at some of the main technologies and concepts that we are testing."
17 Wind turbines "There are several steps in this conversion process. We are testing not only the system that's transforming the energy, but also each technical component along the way.  Before we discuss the entire process, let's look at some of the individual technologies.  We are testing…"
18 Wind turbines "Two variable speed wind turbines that create energy from the wind. One is a 100-kilowatt turbine and the other is a 10-kilowatt turbine."
19 Electrolyzers "Two proton exchange membrane electrolyzers and one alkaline electrolyzer that can produce hydrogen gas from water."
20 Tanks "Metal storage tanks that store hydrogen for later use, and..."
21 Engines "An internal combustion engine that runs on the stored hydrogen, generating electricity that can be sent onto the grid during peak demand."
22 Wind turbine, electrolyzers, hydrogen, storage tanks, engines, and light bulb "Essentially, this project studies how we can capture the energy contained in the wind, convert it into a form that can be stored (hydrogen), and then convert it back to electricity during times when it is needed most to run our homes, our businesses, and someday, our cars!"
23   "Let's go back and look at some of the questions we hope to answer."
24 Wind turbines "We are testing those two turbines, experimenting with the different energies that they produce and how to get that electricity into the electrolyzers, where it can be converted into hydrogen. At the heart of this challenge is the fact that most turbines create AC (or alternating current) electricity, while the electrolyzers require direct current, or DC. Here's what we're doing about that..."
25 100kW wind turbine "The 100-kilowatt turbine. This turbine already has on-board electronics that take the wind's varying AC electricity and turn it into 750- to 800-volt DC. Normally, this DC electricity has to be converted to AC current like we use in our homes...but we're going to skip that step and just use it straight from the turbine, with one exception. In order to be used in our electrolyzers and ultimately converted into hydrogen, we have to step that 800 volts down to 50 to 100 volts DC."
26 10kW wind turbine "The 10-kilowatt turbine. This smaller wind turbine does not have on-board converters, so its 'wild AC' must be converted to DC before it can be turned into hydrogen by the electrolyzers. We designed and built new, integrated wind-to-electrolyzer electronics to get the wind-produced electricity to the electrolyzers more efficiently."
27 Electrolyzers and components "Now we have the wind's energy delivered in a useful form to the electrolyzer. An electrolyzer has one main goal: to take in water and electricity and produce hydrogen and oxygen."
28 Proton Energy Systems HOGEN 40RE proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyzers and Teledyne HMXT-100 alkaline electrolyzer "We are testing two types of electrolyzers to compare their performance: two HOGEN 40RE proton exchange membrane electrolyzers from Proton Energy Systems and one Teledyne HMXT-100 alkaline electrolyzer."
29 Hydrogen coming from electrolyzers "Now, the hydrogen from the electrolyzers must be compressed so that it can be stored in tanks."
30 Compressor and components "Like air compressors found in mechanics' workshops, our system compresses the hydrogen gas that's coming out of the electrolyzers from 150 pounds per square inch to a maximum pressure of 3,500 pounds per square inch. The higher pressure allows more hydrogen to be stored in the tanks."
31 Hydrogen moving from compressor to tanks and then from tanks to engine or filling station "Once the hydrogen is stored, it can be sent to an internal combustion engine for use on the grid when it is needed or, someday, to a hydrogen automotive filling station."
32 Combustion engine/grid and components "The stored hydrogen will run an internal combustion engine, generating electricity that we'll send onto the grid. We'll run the engine between the hours of 4 and 7 pm, coinciding with one of Xcel Energy's daily peak energy periods. This step can also be accomplished by using a hydrogen fuel cell."
33 Wind in meadow, wind turbine, internal combustion engine, light bulb "Thus, we have taken the variable nature of wind, captured it, and used it when our customers need it most."
34 Hydrogen filling station/cars and components "The hydrogen can be used today to power internal combustion engine vehicles that run on hydrogen gas and eventually to power fuel cell vehicles, which will start coming on the market in the next decade. Imagine, cars with no greenhouse gas emissions, only water."
35   "Of course, we are very excited about the possibilities offered by this study."
36 Isolating hydrogen without creating greenhouse gasses; creating several uses for and improvements on wind and hydrogen energies; comparing electrolyzer technologies; reducing energy loss between wind turbines and electrolyzers; exploring a way to provide consistent support of the grid using a renewable energy "Xcel Energy and NREL are...learning how to isolate hydrogen without creating greenhouse gasses, creating several uses for and improvements on wind and hydrogen energies, comparing electrolyzer technologies, reducing energy loss between wind turbines and electrolyzers, and exploring a way to provide consistent support of the grid using renewable energy."
37   "We hope to have these systems running and providing us with new data throughout 2007 and 2008."
38   Music transition to indicate the show is closing. "Hydrogen technologies have the potential to reduce our nation's dependence on foreign oil, improve air quality, and help the United States maintain its economic competitiveness."
39 Wind, wind turbine, electrolyzers, hydrogen, storage tanks, and engines fade to black "With this project, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Xcel Energy are exhibiting leadership and a unique spirit of teamwork to explore a potentially practical, safe solution to meet our country's energy needs."
40 Light bulb turns on