Last September, Sandia National Laboratories, American Gas Association, and Toyota, in support of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fuel Cell Technologies and Vehicle Technologies Offices, convened stakeholders across the hydrogen and natural gas communities in the U.S. to consider opportunities and challenges at the intersection of their development as alternative transportation fuels. Although natural gas and hydrogen have an obvious intersection – natural gas is the feedstock for 95% of the hydrogen produced in the U.S. – little attention has been given to how these fuels can evolve in the context of each other. The Department of Energy recently released a report generated from this workshop.
The workshop drew on the expertise and experience of a diverse participant group, with representatives from auto industry, freight delivery fleets, gas suppliers, gas storage developers, utilities, academia, industry associations, national laboratories, and federal and state governments.
Participants explored infrastructure requirements, regional trends, and market opportunities at the intersection of hydrogen fuel cell and natural gas use for on road transportation. The goal was to provide background and context for thinking through the dynamic evolution of these two transportation options in tandem, and to identify opportunities that can support the synergistic development of both fuels. Some extracts from the Executive Summary follow.
- Although both are compressed gaseous fuels, current trends indicate that requirements for hydrogen and compressed natural gas are likely to be tailored to optimize each individually rather than focusing on what is common. While different pressure and materials requirements have been developed independently for each fuel, utilizing common equipment, pressures, and manufacturing processes could enable economies of scale for storage equipment and handling that could simultaneously drive down costs and advance both alternatives.
- Natural gas and hydrogen fueling stations are currently being developed independently. Having both fuels at the same station could improve operational expenditures and also take advantage of common supply chains. Coupling these infrastructure economics with common equipment manufacturing for both vehicle and fuel supply technologies has the potential to create new business models that lowers the cost and reduces the risk of both alternatives in tandem.
- New business models may bring together utilities, industrial gas companies, and customer service providers, and thus create new partnerships that alter
the customer fueling experience and change the factors that contribute to station profitability. Moreover, models for multi-fuel generation – such as the simultaneous production of natural gas, hydrogen, and electricity – can shift the paradigm from traditional centralized production and distribution.
The full report can be downloaded by clicking here.