Skip to main content

Hydrogen Infrastructure Testing and Research Facility Animation (Text Version)

Below is the text version for the Hydrogen Infrastructure Testing and Research Facility animation.

The animation uses moving dots to show how hydrogen flows through the Hydrogen Infrastructure Testing and Research Facility (HITRF) at NREL's Energy Systems Integration Facility. Small dots representing electricity—from grid or renewable sources—enter the ESIF and are converted to hydrogen via electrolysis. Large dots representing hydrogen exit the ESIF and flow into the low pressure storage tanks. From low pressure storage, hydrogen goes to medium pressure compression or to low pressure research labs in ESIF. Medium pressure hydrogen is stored in tanks and then fed to the high pressure compressor. High pressure hydrogen is stored in tanks and then fed to either high pressure research projects in ESIF or to the hydrogen dispenser for fueling fuel cell electric vehicles. The hydrogen is cooled via a chiller and heat exchanger before being dispensed into a vehicle.  

Electrolysis

NREL's electrolyzer stack test bed in the Energy Systems Integration Facility is a flexible platform for large active area stack testing with AC-DC power supplies capable of 4,000 ADC and 250 VDC. Stack and individual cell voltage measurements are taken to provide real time monitoring of stack and cell efficiency. The electrolyzer system provides house hydrogen to NREL's research projects and hydrogen fueling station.

The electrolysis photo gallery includes two photos of the electrolyzer stack text bed in the Energy Systems Integration Facility and a photo of researchers measuring individual cell voltages from an electrolyzer stack.

Low Pressure Storage

The low pressure hydrogen storage system consists of eleven steel hydrogen tanks at a pressure up to 200 bar that can store 190 kilograms of hydrogen at full pressure. This system provides house hydrogen to fuel cell labs and feeds the medium pressure compressor.

The low pressure storage photo gallery includes two photos of low pressure hydrogen storage tanks.

Medium Pressure Storage

The medium pressure hydrogen storage system consists of six hydrogen tanks at a pressure up to 415 bar that can store 85 kilograms of hydrogen at full pressure. This system provides hydrogen to fill fuel cell forklifts and feeds the high pressure compressor.

The medium pressure storage photo gallery includes two photos of medium pressure hydrogen storage tanks.

High Pressure Storage

The high pressure hydrogen storage system consists of four Type II hydrogen tanks at a pressure up to 900 bar that can store 60 kilograms of hydrogen at full pressure. This system provides hydrogen to high pressure research projects and for fuel cell electric vehicle fills.

The high pressure storage photo gallery includes two photos of high pressure hydrogen storage tanks.

Medium Pressure Compression

The medium pressure compressor can take hydrogen from 7 bar up to 415 bar. It is a 50 kg/day outdoor-rated diaphragm compressor that has two stages of compression built into the system. NREL collects data on compressor maintenance and reliability, process gas quality, and power and energy demand.

The medium pressure compression photo gallery includes two photos of researchers working with the medium pressure compressor.

High Pressure Compression

The high pressure compressor can take hydrogen from 415 bar up to 900 bar. It is an outdoor-rated, 480 kg/day linear piston hydraulic compressor. NREL collects data on compressor maintenance and reliability, process gas quality, and power and energy demand.

The high pressure compression photo gallery includes two photos of researchers working with the high pressure compressor.

Chiller and Heat Exchanger

A 9-horsepower chiller supports H70 hydrogen refueling for fuel cell electric vehicles. The chiller and heat exchanger aim to pre-chill the hydrogen gas entering a fuel cell electric vehicle down to -40°C. NREL collects power data to measure chiller performance. On a warm day with the dispenser idle (no fills) the chiller uses 44 kWh of electricity per day. The chiller uses 4 kWh of energy to recover from a fill. 

The chiller and heat exchanger photo gallery includes two photos of the hydrogen chiller and heat exchanger located next to the dispenser.

Hydrogen Dispenser

The H70 (70 MPa/700 bar) hydrogen dispenser is capable of fueling hydrogen fuel cell vehicles to SAE J2601 and MC Formula standards. The dispenser also has an H35 (35 MPa/350 bar) line that can fill fuel cell forklifts and provide non-pre-chilled hydrogen fills to fuel cell electric vehicles. The fuel quality is checked periodically to ensure the station adheres to the SAE J2719: Hydrogen Fuel Quality for Fuel Cell Vehicles standard.

The hydrogen dispenser photo gallery includes one photo of the two different dispenser nozzles (H35 and H70) and one photo of the piping and valves inside the dispenser.

Research Projects

The HITRF supports many different research projects at NREL. Many of these projects are part of the Hydrogen Fueling Infrastructure Research and Station Technology (H2FIRST) project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's Fuel Cell Technologies Office and led by Sandia National Laboratories and NREL. The HITRF also provides an integrated hydrogen distribution network to multiple ESIF labs researching hydrogen production through renewable electrolysis, fuel cell manufacturing and testing, high-pressure component testing, and hydrogen sensor testing. Read more.

The research projects gallery includes photos of these projects:

  • NREL's component validation project collects data to track maintenance, reliability, and power and energy demand of major station components.
  • NREL's vehicle simulator project developed a device to test a hydrogen station's ability to perform five back-to-back fills.
  • NREL's hose reliability project repeatedly cycles dispenser hoses under realistic conditions to identify common failure points and leak locations.
  • H2FIRST's meter benchmarking project developed a gravimetric hydrogen standard for high-pressure hydrogen testing of commercially available flow meters.

Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles

Hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) are clean, efficient, refuel quickly, and provide long driving range. The challenges to widespread deployment include hydrogen infrastructure cost and reliability and fuel cell durability and reliability. NREL has three FCEVs on loan from partners in its test and evaluation fleet. These FCEVs allow NREL to educate visitors and the public about hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and evaluate the hydrogen fueling experience and equipment using a variety of vehicle types that reflect what will happen at a commercial hydrogen fueling station.

The fuel cell electric vehicles photo gallery includes photos of the Toyota Mirai, Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell, and Mercedes Benz F-CELL vehicles at the HITRF.

Hydrogen at Scale

Hydrogen is a flexible, clean energy-carrying intermediate that enables aggressive market penetration of renewables while deeply decarbonizing our energy system. The H2@Scale vision is a future energy system that uses hydrogen to connect low carbon energy sources to all of the energy sectors—electric grid, transportation, and industrial—to decrease total U.S. carbon dioxide emissions by half relative to business as usual by 2050.

The Hydrogen at Scale photo gallery shows in illustrative H2@Scale energy system.

Data Analysis

NREL uses an automated data logging system to collect operating and maintenance data from all of the HITRF components and report on every facet of hydrogen station performance. The National Fuel Cell Technology Evaluation Center (NFCTEC) at NREL regularly collects and compiles maintenance data from forecourt hydrogen stations. NREL is combining the data collected from the HITRF with NFCTEC data to improve the public knowledge of hydrogen station costs and operating requirements.

The data analysis photo gallery shows a photo of the HITRF control room in the Energy Systems Integration Facility and an illustration of NFCTEC's process for analysis and reporting of real-world operation data.

Safety and Training

The HITRF is representative of current commercially available hydrogen fueling stations. This enables NREL to validate current industry standards and methods for hydrogen fueling, provide data and expertise to organizations that are developing model codes and standards, and test next-generation fuel cell and hydrogen components for operation and safety.

The safety and training photo gallery shows an aerial photo of the HITRF.