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Hydrogen as energy storage

Hydrogen is the most abundant molecule in the universe. Thanks to its impressive mass energy density (approximately 120 MJ/kg, or about three times the one of diesel), it allows for the storage of substantial amounts of energy, making it one essential component of the energy transition.

This versatile energy carrier has a low volumetric energy density, which means we need to increase its density in order to store it, through methods such as compression, liquefaction, or reversible chemical reactions.

Compressed hydrogen at 350 bar or 700 bar is used in small-scale applications such as vehicles. Liquid hydrogen can be used as the fuel for an internal combustion engine, fuel cells or turbines. Some submarines and vehicles have been designed to use this form of hydrogen. Liquefied hydrogen is also being investigated as a means of decarbonising aviation and shipping.

Compressing or liquefying hydrogen is expensive, while metal organic frameworks (MOFs), which are currently the best way of guaranteeing the highest density of transport at around 70 kg/m3, tend to be constrained by weight.

These alternatives are extremely promising for short-term storage, but unsuitable for large-scale storage. Large-scale storage is defined as being sufficient for sustaining the electrical grid for weeks to months, where batteries and other energy storage alternatives cannot compete.

An intriguing approach to large-scale, low-pressure hydrogen storage involves utilising depleted reservoirs or salt coverings to store significant quantities of renewably generated hydrogen, which can be deployed during times when grid balancing power is required.

SINTEF actively engages in multiple projects within hydrogen energy storage, encompassing a diverse range of research initiatives :

  • liquid hydrogen storage tanks,
  • underground storage,
  • electrolyte development,
  • and material chemistry.

These endeavours are made possible by our extensive expertise in the field of energy storage.

A selection of projects on the topic:


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