Hydrogen Technology

A new alloy is reinventing an old technology and making engineers take a second look at hydrogen storage. GKN explores the role metal hydrides play to ensure safe and reliable zero-emission energy storage for residential applications. 

Zero emissions and energy from renewable sources – Energy storage becomes key

Zero emissions and energy from renewable sources – Energy storage becomes key

The strong demand for CO₂ reduction has become a driver for more energy being produced from renewable resources.

With our sintered metal parts and components, we are helping the electrification of the automotive industry that is reaching out for lightweight and thermal-improved solutions. But there is more our technology can do to help establish a greener power supply from renewable sources that faces three key challenges:

  • Sustainable local energy generation
  • Efficient transfer of energy
  • Effective and safe storage of energy

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How to overcome local energy storage limitations

How to overcome local energy storage limitations

The most efficient way to use energy from solar panels or other renewable sources is to generate and store the energy locally in a decentralized system directly with the energy consumer.

By lacking decentralized and affordable storage systems, the energy is mainly fed to the public electricity grid rather than being used locally. On many occasions, sustainably generated energy is not used. This is because the energy availability does not meet the requirements for reliable and predictive supply through the public grids. Direct local usage requires a more efficient energy transfer and storage.

In a local system, excess electricity from photovoltaic solar panels or other sustainable sources is stored during the day and used through the night. Batteries are the current state-of-the-art technology for daytime energy buffers. Cost per kWH is continuously dropping, but still remains high. In addition, battery cost rises quickly when creating a buffer for seasonal energy storage, as well as aspects of safety and required space become critical.

How do you store Hydrogen?

How do you store Hydrogen?
GKN’s metal hydride system for hydrogen storage applications

High specific strength

Hydrogen is normally stored in two ways:

  • For stationary applications, hydrogen is stored in pressure vessels around 40 bar
  • For mobile applications, hydrogen is stored in pressure vessels over 300 bar

Compressing hydrogen consumes large amounts of energy. GKN challenged our engineers to find a more efficient solution. They developed a new metal alloy powder from hydrides. By compacting the alloy powder into a high-density pellet, we created an efficient solid-state storage material for hydrogen gas.

For the same amount of energy capacity, we can use a vessel working at only 30 bar that will require less energy for cooling, and is up to ten times smaller compared to a 40 bar tank of a standard system. Reducing the required size for the storage vessels offered the opportunity to realize another benefit of the GKN Hydrogen Storage System. We not only want to buffer energy from night to daytime, but we are taking the next step on the challenge of seasonal energy buffering from summer to winter.

The sustainable solution for energy storage

Our use of metal hydride alloys reduces compression energy and the size of storage vessels.

By using compacted metal hydride pellets we can use much smaller tanks operating at lower pressure and temperature, saving energy right from the start.

The use of all-process energy is key to our system for an optimal result.

We make use of the thermal energy resulting from the processes, boosting efficiency up to 90 percent. 

Our newly developed material enables the realization of highly demandable applications like residential housing.

A smaller and safer system not only means better efficiency but also allows more comfortable operations for private households.

Seasonal energy buffering of renewable sources is a huge challenge – we look at it as a great opportunity.

With our system, we are taking the next step toward seasonal energy buffering to make the all-year autonomous sourcing of renewables real. 

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Nils Bornemann
Nils Bornemann
Director Advanced Technology
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