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  • >> Voiceover: It is the most plentiful element in the universe and it's a key component in

  • the suite of renewable options needed as we transition to a cleaner, more secure energy strategy.

  • >> Keith Wipke: Hydrogen is a really important part of the portfolio of our energy in this country.

  • >> Voiceover: In nature hydrogen is combined with other elements but, when separated, it

  • is a powerful energy carrier used as a transportation fuel in zero-emission fuel cell vehicles.

  • The National Renewable Energy Laboratory is developing and advancing a number of pathways

  • to renewable hydrogen production.

  • >> Pin-Ching Maness: One methodology of making renewable hydrogen is using biological means

  • to break down lignocellulosic biomass.

  • >> Voiceover: Biomass is an array of abundant, sugar rich plant-based material. A fermentation

  • process in the lab breaks down the complex sugars in biomass,

  • without oxygen, to produce hydrogen.

  • >> Pin-Ching Maness: In our group we use a very novel bacterium that can directly ferment

  • the very complex substrate and generate a lot of hydrogen.

  • >> Voiceover: Another promising pathway to renewable hydrogen is photobiological.

  • >> Pin-Ching Maness: The photobiological process in a way is a parallel of the fermentation.

  • The only difference is now the microbe has this unique capability to carry out photosynthesis.

  • >> Voiceover: In this case pigments in water-grown algae and cyanobacteria absorb sunlight and

  • generate hydrogen through photosynthesis. The challenge is that photosynthesis also

  • releases oxygen, which inhibits hydrogen production.

  • >> Pin-Ching Maness: NREL has been conducting research in overcoming that grand challenge

  • by engineering some of the more oxygen-tolerant pathways into algae and cyanobacteria.

  • >> Voiceover: One thing is certain. Sunlight is an effective way to break the bond between

  • oxygen and hydrogen in water.

  • >> Pin-Ching Maness: Water is our most rich resource in terms of hydrogen. So the direct

  • splitting of water is the holy grail way of making hydrogen.

  • >> Todd Deutsch: We're in the photoelectrochemical hydrogen production laboratory and our goal

  • here is to turn sunlight and water into hydrogen fuel.

  • >> Voiceover: Scientists here use high-efficiency multi-junction solar cells

  • developed at NREL to split water.

  • >> Todd Deutsch: So you shine light at it and it pushes electrons out the front and

  • it reduces protons into hydrogen, and that's what you can see bubbling off the surface.

  • >> Voiceover: This is one of the cleanest pathways to convert water to hydrogen.

  • The goal now is to make electrolyzing water to hydrogen

  • more cost-competitive with other fuel sources.

  • >> Todd Deutsch: The potential is limitless. I mean, we have tons of sunlight and we have

  • tons of water on our planet, so we could expand our energy economy to meet however many people

  • we put on this planet in a renewable fashion with no byproducts.

  • >> Kevin Harrison: In my opinion renewable electrolysis is really the ultimate end goal.

  • If you're using solar or wind-powered electricity to power your electrolyzer, you now havein

  • the case of transportation—a renewable transportation fuel, and that's a huge success. That's a

  • big departure from where we are today.

  • >> Voiceover: Hydrogen is an exceptional energy carrier much like electricity, which makes

  • it ideal for transportation with zero carbon emissions.

  • >> Kevin Harrison: The energy in hydrogen is stored in tanks on a fuel cell electric

  • vehicle, and the fuel cell itself is the engine that provides the power. And you're feeding

  • it hydrogen to move down the road.

  • >> Keith Wipke: Think about fuel cells like a battery. It's got a bunch of layers all

  • sandwiched together and when the hydrogen comes in it reacts with oxygen from the air

  • and creates water—H2O—and electricity and heat. But unlike a battery where the energy

  • is stored in the plates, the energy is actually stored in the gas coming in.

  • >> Voiceover: Hydrogen fuel cell technology is in use today, offering high productivity

  • with fast refueling for equipment like forklifts, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are emerging

  • in the transportation market.

  • >> Keith Wipke: They run on hydrogen, they can be refueled in three to five minutes,

  • run 300 or 400 miles, and then be refueled again in three to five minutes. So an exact

  • replacement as far as a consumer is concerned for a car that can meet their everyday needs.

  • >> Kevin Harrison: What's different is a fuel cell is two to two and a half times more efficient

  • than the gasoline engines we drive around in today.

  • >> Voiceover: Researchers at NREL's Energy Systems Integration Facility are evaluating

  • and improving the hydrogen and fuel cell infrastructure

  • >> Kevin Harrison: It's a six-axis robot intended to simulate a human refueling a car.

  • >> Voiceover: … to enhance the consumer experience and ensure safety.

  • >> Keith Wipke: Hydrogen is a safe fuel. It's very predictable, it's light and so when it

  • escapes it does go up and kind of get out of the way.

  • >> Voiceover: NREL works closely with academic and industry partners with the shared goal

  • of realizing the full potential of hydrogen technologies.

  • >> Keith Wipke: Really our partnership with industry is critical because they tell us

  • what the problems are, and we work on them in the lab with them and with their inputs,

  • and then we hopefully feed that back out in industry to get better products on the market.

  • >> Todd Deutsch: It's really exciting to be in this field. I mean, I feel lucky that I

  • get to come to work and do something I believe in every day

  • and be on the cutting edge of this technology.

  • >> Voiceover: The National Renewable Energy Laboratory is transforming the way we power

  • our country to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and lessen our impact on the environment.

  • >> Keith Wipke: We actually have to push forward now. It's really critical that NREL is involved

  • today to help the research and development on making low-cost, renewable hydrogen.

  • >> Voiceover: Renewable hydrogenunlocking and exploring its poweris a crucial element

  • of our clean energy future.

>> Voiceover: It is the most plentiful element in the universe and it's a key component in

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Pathways to Renewable Hydrogen

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    songwen8778 posted on 2016/07/22
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