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Development of innovative hydrogen compressor technology for small scale decentralized applications for hydrogen refuelling or storage


This topic calls for proposals to develop innovative hydrogen compression technology that is modularly scalable, intrinsically silent and low cost, with competitive compression energy demand and attractive investment cost. The proposed technology is benchmarked against the mechanical compressor technology commercially available today and should have higher reliability, with the potential of lower maintenance cost and less down time of compressor systems.

It is expected that the technology readiness level at the end of the project is at least 5, meaning that the compression technology has been tested in a relevant environment, for instance in a small scale refuelling station (10-100 kg H2/ day), or in a hydrogen storage facility in an island situation.

Proposals should further plan to assess the economic feasibility of the proposed innovative hydrogen compression technology.

The project should include:

  • Development of a modularly scalable, low noise hydrogen compression technology capable of compressing hydrogen at an energy demand of < 6 kWh / kg H2 from 1 to 1000 bars (or equivalent) and aiming to achieve an installed system cost of < €2,000/ (kg H2/day) on the long term.
  • Long duration testing of a typical start-stop operational profile during 9 months with <10% performance decay.
  • Validation of the hydrogen compression technology in a relevant simulated environment.
  • Cost of ownership assessment of the developed hydrogen compression technology
  • Recommendations supporting the technology development process, leading to large-scale manufacturing capability of lower cost, modular, compression systems.

TRL start: 3

TRL end: 5

The FCH 2 JU considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of EUR 2.5 million would allow the specific challenges to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected duration: 3 years

A maximum of 1 project may be funded under this topic

The hydrogen refuelling stations currently being deployed worldwide are mainly based on common mechanical compressor technology. Mechanical compressors are proven technology, but lack the desired durability, efficiency and reliability. This results in high operational and maintenance cost.

Roughly half of the investment cost of common hydrogen refuelling stations consists of mechanical hydrogen compressors cascaded in series to meet the above 700 bar dispensing pressure for fuel cell cars.

Currently available hydrogen compressors are too costly and noisy for decentralized production and efficient storage of hydrogen. The noise level should not be higher than 60 dB at a distance of 5 meters. Additionally the lifetime of the utilized compressors should be at least 20 years. The unit should be able to perform well under frequent start and stop cycles and maintain robust seals.

The technology proposed for development is preferably applicable in both the current and future Hydrogen Refuelling Stations (HRS), reinforcing the HRS exploitation business case. It should maintain high efficiency over a wide range of compression- 1 bar to 1000 bars, in order to be able to take in hydrogen not only from high pressure electrolysis, but also from low pressure hydrogen sources like biomass conversion and steam-methane-reforming/Pd-membrane systems. The energy demand to pressurize the hydrogen from 1 to 1000 bars should be 6 kWh/ kg H2 or less. Most important is that the compression system is sufficiently dynamic to follow the (variable) hydrogen production rate when coupled directly to renewable hydrogen sources.

The project will show realization of a cost effective hydrogen compression system that can be applied at variable scale, in distributed and island situations, for hydrogen refuelling and for dynamic storage needs, with the possibility to drop-in/replace the current compression sub-systems in HRS.

Concrete topic targets and related impact:

  • Modular scalability and operation: modular scalability of compression capacity allows for flexible and lean small scale system construction and for continued operation during maintenance, eliminating down time.
  • Low noise level: the noise level plays an important role especially at metropolitan areas. To satisfy the customer the noise level should not be higher than 60 dB at a distance of 5 meters.
  • Low energy demand
  • Hydrogen compression technology should be able to achieve 6 kWh/kg H2 for 1 to 1000 bar compression
  • Low cost:
    • CAPEX: The installed system cost target of hydrogen compression is
      < €4,000/ (kg H2/day) on a short term basis with a target of <€2,000/(kgH2/day) on a longer term.
    • OPEX: the installed system is expected to have significantly lower maintenance cost and lower down time compared to conventional technology