Skip to main content

An innovative approach for renewable energy storage by a combination of hydrogen carriers and heat storage

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - HyCARE (An innovative approach for renewable energy storage by a combination of hydrogen carriers and heat storage)

Reporting period: 2019-01-01 to 2020-11-30

Conventionally, H2 is stored as compressed gas or liquid. It requires significant energy consumption to reach hyperbaric pressure and cryogenic temperature, resulting non- economically advantageous. On the contrary, metal hydrides (MHs) are promising, since allow storing H2 at low pressure and close to room temperature, achieving large volumetric densities compared to compressed or liquid hydrogen. Moreover, handling hydrogen as hydride results to be safer than liquid and compressed gas.

The main advantages in using hydrogen carriers based in metal hydride are the following: (i) large quantities of hydrogen stored in small volume (i.e. low footprint); (ii) improved energy efficiency of the whole process and (iii) higher safety of the storage. The energy produced by a renewable source (e.g. sun and wind) is used to produce H2 from water through an electrolyser. The gas is then stored in the designed tank using a carrier. A heat storage system is planned to collect heat produced by the renewable plant, the electrolyser and from the MH, during H2 absorption. The collected heat is necessary during the desorption event to release hydrogen from the MH. Finally, the released H2 is used to supply a fuel cell (FC) producing electricity. The flows of hydrogen, heat and electricity during the hydrogen production and use are described in Figure 1, a and b, respectively.

The main objective of the HyCARE project is the development of a prototype hydrogen storage tank with use of a solid-state hydrogen carrier on large scale. The tank will be based on an innovative concept, joining hydrogen and heat storage, in order to improve energy efficiency of the whole system. The developed tank will be installed in the site of ENGIE LAB CRIGEN, located in the Paris Region (F). The developed tank will be joined with a PEM electrolyzer as hydrogen provider and a PEM fuel cell as hydrogen user.

What? An innovative approach using hydrogen carriers and Phase Change Materials for the storage of renewable energy.
Why? Current approaches for renewable energy storage in Europe are not efficient and require a large footprint. No suitable systems are available up to now and hydrogen carriers have the potential to solve these problems, but large scale applications need to be demonstrated.
Who? European leading research groups on solid-state hydrogen carriers (UNITO, CNRS, IFE) and technology innovators (HZG, FBK), joining large companies on materials (GKN) and energy (ENGIE) together with small-medium enterprises (STH, TD).
Where? The use of the developed system will be demonstrated at the Living Lab of ENGIE in Paris.
For whom? For companies, regions and cities aiming to extend the use of renewable energies.
Next? The developed system will be exploited by companies for commercial applications and by research centres for knowledge-based developments on hydrogen storage.
The HyCARE consortium started to project activities since January 2019.
Kick off meeting of HyCARE has been held at the University of Turin (Italy) on January 28th-29th, 2019. Detailed plans have been fixed.
The 2nd Project Meeting of HyCARE has been held at CNRS in Thais (France) on June 25th-26th, 2019. The hydrogen carrier has been selected and details on the PCM have been fixed. Possible tank designs have been discussed, planning further activities.
The 3rd Project Meeting of HyCARE has been held in FBK in Trento (Italy) on January 20th-21st, 2020. During the meeting, partners of HyCARE received the Support Services for the Exploitation of Research Results (SSERR), consisting in a general presentation at the end of the first day of the meeting and an awareness session of approx. 3 hours in the afternoon of the second day, about exploitation of research results, i.e. what the project should consider and what the Commission is expecting. Dr. Alessia Malasecche, from META Group, joined the meeting to provide SSERR.The production quantity of selcted hydrogen carrier has been defined. In parallel, the required PCM quantity has been fixed. Both hydrogen and heat storage tanks have been designed and a preliminary P&DI has been discussed. Future activities have been planned.
An Executive Board Meeting has been organized via web on April 9th, 2020. The goal was to define the management chenges of the project due to the covid pandemic. It was defined that, at this stage and until the situation will be more clear, HyCARE activities will be slowed down, with a focus on activities that can be done during the current period. Once the current global situation will improve, the real impact of the COVID-19 in the overall project timeline will be anlyzed. As a conclusion, the Executive Board decided to proceed with a change in the mid term, moving from end of June, 2020, to end of November, 2020. As a consequence, an amendment of the Grant Agreement has been requested and it has been fixed in July, 2020.
The 4th Project Meeting of HyCARE has been held via web on July 25th-26th, 2019. The charactersation of metal hydride powder produced at industrial scale was performed and a pellet design was suggested. The development of a prototype of both hydrogen and heat storage tanks has been fixex and the suiteable test have been agreed. The goal is to compare experimental information with calculated data in order to validate the simulation. Detials on the demo site have been defined and the procedure for the Hazop analysis has been fixed.
"The storage of hydrogen remains an open problem and the HyCARE project, starting in these days with the kick-off meeting at the Chemistry Department of the University of Turin, plans to give an answer to this. In fact, hydrogen is a gas that must be contained in high pressure cylinders, with high compression costs and with the use of large spaces. Alternatively, hydrogen can be absorbed into a metal powder under much milder conditions, i.e. close to room temperatures and pressures. This solution reduces the volume required for storing even large quantities of hydrogen. It is indeed this solution that has convinced the European Community to support the HyCARE project with about 2 million euros, through the ""Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking"" - FCH JU.

The project involves the production of almost 5 tons of metal powder, which will be placed in special containers. The thermal management of the plant will take place through an innovative approach, making use of phase change materials, significantly increasing the efficiency of the process. The amount of hydrogen stored will be 50 kg, which will represent the highest quantity ever stored in Europe with this technique.

The following goals are planned in HyCARE:
- High quantity of stored hydrogen >= 50 kg
- Low pressure < 50 bar and low temperature < 100°C
- Low foot print, comparable to liquid hydrogen storage
- Innovative design
- Hydrogen storage coupled with thermal energy storage
- Improved energy efficiency
- Integration with an electrolyser (EL) and a fuel cell (FC)
- Demonstration in real application
- Improved safety
- Techno-economical evaluation of the innovative solution
- Analysis of the environmental impact via Life Cycle Analysis (LCA)
- Exploitation of possible industrial applications
- Dissemination of results at various levels
- Engagement of local people and institution in the demonstration site"