Washington State University is home to the Hydrogen Properties for Energy Research (HYPER) Laboratory. As the only cryogenic hydrogen research laboratory in US academia, HYPER has a number of projects to improve hydrogen production and storage, all at extremely cold temperatures below 130 Kelvin (-225°F).
Read more about hydrogen fuel and the rising green hydrogen economy.
Hydrogen refueling stations
Current refueling stations use large and expensive hydrogen compressors to achieve the necessary pressure for fuel storage. Those large compressors are also prone to breakdowns. A new method called cryogenic thermal compression being tested at WSU may drop the cost of hydrogen fuel significantly. It can even dispense liquid hydrogen with minor modifications.
Lightweight 3D-printed LH2 Tank
This innovative research demonstrates the cryogenic compatibility of 3D printed polymers.
Cryogenic origami bellows
Storing and reliably dispensing fuel at -421°F, the temperature of liquid hydrogen, is even harder in microgravity. WSU doctoral student Kjell Westra and mechanical engineering researcher Jake Leachman developed an origami-inspired, folded plastic fuel bladder that doesn’t crack at super cold temperatures and could someday be used to store and pump fuel in space.
CRyogenic Accelerated Fatigue Tester (CRAFT)
Doctoral student Mathew Hunt is designing CRAFT, the first fully electric load frame capable of fatigue testing polymeric materials in a liquefied hydrogen environment, to give insight to the cryogenic material world. Currently, data on material properties at cryogenic temperatures is sparse.
Cryo-catalysis Hydrogen Experimental Facility (CHEF)
Commercial liquid hydrogen use suffers from significant boil-off. CHEF aims to minimize these losses from terrestrial and space applications.
The TITAN cryostat for precision thermophysical property measurements was named after Ian Richardson completed measurements simulating the seas of Saturn’s moon Titan.
This project found that tube geometry can help cool gases, requiring less energy to keep fuel at cryogenic temperatures and improving hydrogen fuel infrastructure for applications on earth and in space.
When the HYPER lab was founded in 2010, the inaugural project was to build the first liquid hydrogen fueled drone by a university team. Fourteen flights proved the airframe, electric propulsion, and guidance systems were working beautifully, and extensive ground testing and characterization of the hydrogen systems showed the fuel cell hydrogen powertrain was up to the task.
Read more about Genii in “Things that fly in the sky” (Fall 2014)
Renewable energy storage (including hydrogen)
The laboratory of chemical engineering professor Hongfei Lin couples chemical processes with novel material systems for renewable energy and clean fuel production.
Videos from the HYPER Lab on YouTube