Role of the NHA in Strategic Planning for the Hydrogen
Robert L. Mauro, Executive Vice President, and Karen Miller, Coordinator,
National Hydrogen Association
[The following is based on a paper presented at the HYPOTHESIS II
Conference held in August 1997 in Grimstad, Norway.]
The NHA, in conjunction with the U.S. Department
of Energy, is defining the path to a hydrogen energy industry. The NHA has
produced a draft document titled Strategic Planning for the Hydrogen
Economy: The Hydrogen Commercialization Plan, which was officially adopted
by the membership at the 8th Annual U.S. Hydrogen Meeting in March
of 1997. Much of this paper is based on the objectives of the plan, and
describes existing activities which support these objectives.
The NHA believes that the journey along the
path to a sustainable hydrogen energy future will only be successful by
working together in partnerships. These partnerships include industry, government,
and other organizations, and must span national borders. The plan states
Industry has the expertise and financial
resources to bring new products to the marketplace. But industry must respect
the bottom line and the demands of its stockholders to provide short-term
return on investment. Industry cannot finance long-term societal goals
such as clean air and reduced dependence on foreign oil.
On the other hand, governments are responsible
to protect their citizens and the environment from the excesses of individuals
or corporations pursuing their own economic self-interest. Government alone
has the long-term staying power and the mission, acting on behalf of all
citizens collectively, to develop and promote new technology and new policies
that will achieve societal objectives. Working together, government can
provide the marketplace savvy and the large capital investment, once the
hydrogen technology development comes within industrial planning horizon
The primary objective of the plan is
to obtain commitments from both industry and government to begin implementing
the hydrogen energy industry. Such joint commitment will require an economically
and technically feasible roadmap on how to get from here to there. Industry
must be convinced that it can eventually make a return on investments in
hydrogen technology. Government must be convinced that its investments
will leverage larger societal benefits in the form of reduced health costs,
reduced oil imports, and improved international competitiveness over time.
In short, the hydrogen commercialization plan must point to a credible
benefit/cost ratio for all participants.
Both the NHA and Hydrogen Technical Advisory
Panel (HTAP) are partners with DOE. The NHA represents domestic companies
with business or market interests in the U.S. and supports International
Energy Agency (IEA) objectives.
HTAP and the NHA currently have efforts underway
to implement the commercialization plan for hydrogen. HTAP and the NHA complement
each other in the common purpose of helping DOE reach its objectives of
advancing technologies critical to the development of sustainable hydrogen
energy systems which will be environmentally benign and economically viable.
The NHA is also actively establishing technical and policy alliances with
other organizations, particularly in the area of codes and standards, leading
toward national and international acceptance of hydrogen standards. In fact,
two draft standards, for hydrogen containers and refueling stations, developed
by working groups in the NHA were accepted as ISO TC/197 work items in Toronto,
Ontario, Canada, on 27 May 1997.
Cooperation between industries is also critical
to success. Industry partnerships are the key elements required to implement
the Commercialization Plan. Committees composed of NHA and HTAP members
must advance technologies and lower barriers to create a hydrogen future.
DOE is interested in cost-sharing projects with industry, with industry
paying an increasing share of the cost as each technology approaches market
viability. To this end, industry members of the NHA are forming business
councils to plan and implement near-term projects in support of continued
growth in hydrogen-based technology and business. This type of coalition
provides local synergy for focused action to realize common DOE-NHA-HTAP
goals. Business councils can provide a synergism that is required to take
the hydrogen industry to the next level: enabling consumers to use hydrogen
in a market which is safe, economical, and sustainable. These councils would
work with DOE and the NHA with implementation and commercialization by organizing
business teams to conduct demonstrations of equipment in their geographical
The DOE supports a Clean Corridors Program which
promotes the concept of industry partnership and cooperation to identify
and solve niche-market opportunities to develop clusters around sites that
already need or use hydrogen, which will lead to hydrogen corridors. In
this way, the hydrogen infrastructure will evolve in response to the end-use
needs of hydrogen and the hydrogen activities and infrastructure are less
likely to disappear when government funding is reduced or eliminated. The
following is a step-by-step development of infrastructure for the development
of these hydrogen corridors.
Existing industries using hydrogen applications
in their embryonic stages grow, attracting other industries with hydrogen
activities. These industries develop into clusters because of their geographical
proximity. As more and more hydrogen applications grow at geographically
separate sites, there will evolve a natural need for commercial interaction
in the form of corridors. Need will trigger placing additional hydrogen-related
businesses and hydrogen dispensing stations along the route to serve both
markets. There is a desire on the part of industry and government to jump
start this process with demonstrations focused around existing hydrogen
users and systems easily modified to accommodate hydrogen.
The first step in corridor development is to
identify existing hydrogen applications. Hydrogen sites exist throughout
the U.S. Many are at NASA facilities, Department of Defense sites, and national
Along the Gulf Coast are a series of industries
linked by four different hydrogen pipelines, owned by hydrogen gas producers,
connecting various plants that produce and consume hydrogen. Some pipelines
are over 100 miles long and connect dozens of industrial facilities that
range from chlor-alkali plants to petrochemical plants. Such a cluster of
facilities which uses hydrogen for industrial purposes is well on its way
to becoming a corridor of industrial users in a crescent from Houston, Texas,
to Pensacola, Florida. These pipelines carry hydrogen primarily for use
as a chemical feedstock. There is widespread use of hydrogen as a chemical
feedstock or for industrial processing in chemicals, fertilizer, and methanol,
as well as steel, electronics and food processing. Hydrogen use in these
industrial sectors is increasing at between 8% and 10% a year. In addition,
NASA makes extensive use of liquid hydrogen for rocket propulsion and engine
Additional hydrogen clusters exist in Southern
California, where environmental concerns make clean energy use a high priority.
The aerospace industry in Southern California has on-site hydrogen in order
to conduct fuel-based tests for engines and fuel cells and to create hydrogen
environments for processing. Their familiarity with hydrogen and environmental
concerns make them logical candidates for various types of hydrogen demonstrations.
There are several applications that industry
believes might offer cluster opportunities. These applications can be located
near existing industrial hydrogen users or producers. The following applications
were identified at a recent business council meeting.
Corridors develop out of the need to connect
clusters either to provide chemical feedstocks or a desire for hydrogen
transportation between clusters. DOE has tasked Sandia National Laboratories
to develop the corridor concept in partnership with industry and DOE.
Based on current and predicted clusters of hydrogen
activity, early corridors will most likely develop in two corners of the
U.S. Hydrogen buses ultimately will link each cluster in the corridor. In
that respect, there will be a need to install refueling stations at selected
The first corridor opportunity would likely
develop in the Southwest, extending west from Los Angeles, California, to
Phoenix, Arizona, and Albuquerque, New Mexico, and north to Sacramento,
California, and Las Vegas, Nevada. This region could take advantage of PV
testing and existing hydrogen production facilities in the area. This corridor
could expand even further east to Salt Lake City, Utah, and Denver, Colorado.
Another corridor may arise from hydrogen activity
in the Southeast. NASA, defense, and industrial activity in this region
rely extensively on hydrogen. These sites create a natural corridor and
could easily accommodate hydrogen-powered transit buses and vehicles.
Extensive planning is required for the successful
expansion of existing applications into clusters and from clusters into
corridors. It is easy to envision refueling stations up to 400 miles apart
which operate on different hydrogen production technologies. These hydrogen
production technologies might include partial oxidation, small size methane
steam reforming, electrolysis from the grid and with various renewables,
and plasma production of hydrogen.
A multiphase effort might include:
- Municipal Solid Waste can be gasified to produce a hydrogen
gas stream that, when cleaned, can provide hydrogen for power generation,
fuel for fleet vehicles, or a chemical feedstock. In theory, such a project,
coupled with recycling, would virtually eliminate the need for landfills.
A project of this type is being considered for the landfill in Los Angeles,
- Airport Vehicles are all fleet vehicles. The shuttle buses,
vans, and on-field vehicles can all be hydrogen-powered and refueled from
a central facility. This would eliminate the Diesel pollution from airports
such as Los Angeles and open the door for fleet use of hydrogen.
- Indian Reservations are another possible application, as large
portions often do not have electric power. The cost of line extensions
to serve individual customers or villages is prohibitive. Hydrogen energy
systems provide a means of supplying reliable power and bringing an improved
quality of life to native peoples in remote locations. These systems could
be direct solar-based in the Southwestern U.S. and wind-based in the Plains
- Buses represent a major early market for hydrogen. Many U.S.
urban Diesel buses service communities in non-attainment areas for particulates.
Diesel exhaust is a major contributor to small particulate emissions which
EPA has identified as the most hazardous to human health. Hydrogen power
conversion systems are contributors to a solution.
- In addition to these applications, there is the need to consider hydrogen
vehicles in the context of zero-emission vehicle requirements on the
2003 time frame, and fleet vehicles for major corporations, utilities,
and governments at all levels.
This approach provides for the infrastructure
to grow with and tailor itself to the application. For success, industry
involvement is essential. The NHA anticipates working with DOE, the California
Hydrogen Business Council, the national laboratories, and industries to
support cluster development.
The establishment of a network of refueling
stations and buses leads naturally to consideration of fleets of hydrogen
vehicles. This could then be followed by both public refueling at selected
fleet centers and the addition of hydrogen dispensing at existing service
- A study of the best approach for corridor development;
- Support of the formation and development of hydrogen business councils
and integration of current hydrogen industry interests with those of government
and community interests (to build interest, financial, and other support
for involvement in this effort);
- Initiating development of dispensing facilities in cluster sites for
the first corridor;
- Installation of facilities at first corridor;
- The acquisition and conversion of buses; and
- Document progress and repeat for second corridor.
[Note: The rest of this article, below, did not appear in the printed
NHA Advocate due to space limitations.]
In addition to all of these activities, there
are international partnerships which play an important role in communication
about hydrogen systems. The United States, with the participation of other
ISO member countries, is in a position to develop mutually acceptable terms
for the performance standards for these systems for purposes of international
trade. The expertise and experience from corridor demonstrations will help
us better define the requirements of the dispensing facility and for an
automobile on-board fuel system. Many of these same questions will be faced
by industrialized nations throughout the world.
The Canadian government recently announced it
will support Ballard to develop a fuel cell engine for Ford Motor Company.
Ballard fuel cells are also being developed for Daimler-Benz, General Motors,
Hitachi, Honda, Volkswagen, Volvo, and GPU International. These industries
from all over the world should be congratulated for integrating the best
hydrogen technologies from all over the world to create effective, pertinent
demonstrations of hydrogen energy systems and their infrastructure.
The Hydrogen Commercialization Plan includes
both long-term goals and short-term action items that will start us down
the road toward the hydrogen energy industry. The most important short-term
activity is the development and demonstration of a viable, cost-effective
hydrogen fueling infrastructure. This goal can only be achieved by the hydrogen
community working together to form a safe, economical, and sustainable hydrogen
©1997. All Rights Reserved. A Publication of
the National Hydrogen Association.
This material may not be reproduced in any form without permission.
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