GenH2 Achieving the impossible for the hydrogen economy
Building out the infrastructure required for a booming hydrogen economy is a huge undertaking and is not one to be taken lightly. As previously discussed in this magazine, hydrogen refueling stations can provide a crucial backbone to enable the wider adoption of hydrogen. However, not all companies are focusing on gaseous hydrogen.
GenH2, a company built on the value of innovation, is exploring a different method of hydrogen refueling; and one which has the potential to take the mobility market by storm. When achieved and successfully introduced, it will send shockwaves throughout the industry and bring the hydrogen market into a new era.
These thoughts are not necessarily of H2 View of course, but of GenH2’s CEO and founder Cody Bateman, whose passion for innovation and securing a zero-emission future for the world is paramount in an exclusive interview with H2 View.
But how is GenH2 currently contributing to the roll-out of hydrogen refuelling stations? Bateman explains that the company is developing a modular system to achieve its goals. “GenH2 is actually creating a modular solution, which means we have all aspects of the filling station, which includes the hydrogen production, and we’re using a form of methane pyrolysis for that,” Bateman said.
“But that’s not really our main focus. Even though we are making significant advances on the pyrolysis, it looks like we will be teaming with a major oil and gas company to further develop that technology. “Actually, I was at a conference just less than a month ago where a guy said that basically a one tonne and a five tonne per day liquid solution were impossible. And that’s really why we formed GenH2.
“We’re now taking that and advancing that to achieve the impossible.”
This statement is one that Bateman highlights many times over the course of our interview and it is clearly a message that is embedded in the DNA of GenH2. By leading innovation with a multitude of former NASA scientists, the company’s staff have always been asked to do the impossible. This is now something the group is taking forward into the green revolution and applying it to hydrogen technologies and advancements.
The next step in the ‘impossible’ category is liquid hydrogen. Bateman told H2 View, “GenH2 primarily focuses on the liquefaction, storage and then transfer. And the transfer piece is the part we’re just now starting to do the research on because we’re starting to see a growing need for liquid to gas and liquid to liquid. “We’re starting to see people finally talking about the dispensing that’s liquid to liquid. So that’s something we don’t have to do. But the whole point of what we do is to advance the technology.
“GenH2 is more than just a filling station company or somebody just doing these modular stations. We also have some of the most advanced R&D facilities, specifically for
liquid and I think it’s important to understand we are the liquid leaders. I don’t think anybody has the experience that we do.
“We’re building some test equipment right now that was going to allow us for the first time ever to get true numbers for thermal or heat transfer utilising liquid hydrogen. And that’s one of the things we’re doing right now for the US government.”
Whilst based in the US, GenH2 works with global companies to support the establishment of the hydrogen market. However, on the US’ hydrogen refuelling infrastructure, Bateman believes the nation is well behind some of its neighbours. Speaking of which countries have inspired Bateman and impressed him with their hydrogen refuelling station roll-out, Bateman said, “I just love what Europe and Japan have done. The US is really behind. They are a solid 3-5 years behind, in my opinion.”
“Others may disagree, but now that I have attended some of these conferences in Europe, I spend a lot of time with the hydrogen guys at other conferences here. The approach the US has taken was very focused only on California, and very focused primarily on passenger cars.
“I love all the pipelines; I love a lot of the stuff going on in Northern Europe. Rotterdam is driving hydrogen and that whole area is talking more about green energy. And it’s interesting because Europe is a solid 3-5 years ahead of US.”
He continued, “We have a lot of bright people. But to answer your question, what’s hindering the roll-out right now is the lack of understanding of what it really will take. Especially in the US, there’s a lot of focus on these hydrogen hubs, which I love, I support everything about them, but they’re very regional.
“If you look at a map of the US where these hubs are going to be located, there are only four or six of them. There is a massive amount of the US that won’t be covered for decades if we just take the hub approach.
“If you do hubs, you still have minimal distances you can go, and that’s actually one of the reasons why GenH2 is in existence. We are not a hub. Now we do have the giga spheres but for the most part, our goal is the one and five tonne units that can be spread across anywhere in the US.”
Giga spheres are a brand-new technology that can support a range of hydrogen applications and support the roll-out of sufficient infrastructure. These can be utilised in areas with high demand for hydrogen and allow sufficient amounts of the clean energy carrier to be used across the industry. Bateman explained, “We’re going to be mass producing what we call giga spheres. Our engineers were the ones that helped create these. It was the people that formed GenH2 who did the initial research design on the largest liquid tank ever built with a capacity of 1.25 million gallons.”
“What is great is that all through that building process, we found ways to optimise a giga sphere. And that’s what we’re using. If it’s not out yet, it will be there tomorrow.
But the whole concept is you’re going to have ports; and they’re going to need to have these massive liquid storage solutions. It is a big deal.”
“Different ports could use not only one, but they might need two or three of these and so this could be a truly worldwide solution.”
In this perspective, GenH2 is not only optimising and developing the supply chain for hydrogen in North America but is actively seeking engagement internationally. But how could these solutions be so crucial for the hydrogen market? And moreover, how could it support the roll-out of hydrogen refuelling infrastructure? The answer to that is in the unique characteristics of the technology. “The boil-off rate is 0.05%, a fraction of a percent of hydrogen loss,” Bateman expressed passionately. “It uses our integrated refrigeration and storage technology, so anything that vents off gets recirculated and put back in the tank.
“If you had this massive amount of hydrogen, it may be sitting there for a while. It may be sitting in the heat in Texas. It may be in a port in Saudi Arabia. But you will not be losing very much hydrogen. There is a cost to that. There is a cost to maintaining that liquid hydrogen. But we do believe the cost justifies keeping that much and being able to use it for ships and ports. And if you put these at a large port, then not only can it be used as fuel for ships that may be coming and going, but also for the forklifts. ” “Cranes can be on it; back-up power for the port if electricity goes out. You have the same. Basically, then the hydrogen becomes what we always know and love about hydrogen: hydrogen really is a giant battery. It’s a giant energy store.”
GenH2 continues to spearhead in innovation within the hydrogen space and will continue to do so. And when the solution has been solved for liquid hydrogen, GenH2 will transition to the next solution and solve the next ‘impossible’ technology.
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