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Hydrogen study in Texas aims at showing cost-effectiveness of fuel

Highlights

Dual-track study to leverage assets in Texas

Focus on how 'all components benefit from each other'

Houston — Frontier Energy, in collaboration with 10 partners including GTI and The University of Texas at Austin, announced Sept. 15 the launch of three-year projects that are meant to show that renewable hydrogen can be a cost-effective fuel for multiple end-use applications.

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The project is being called, "Demonstration and Framework for H2@Scale in Texas and Beyond," and will look at, among other things, fuel cell electric vehicles when coupled with large, baseload consumers that use hydrogen for clean, reliable stationary power.

The project is supported by the US Department of Energy's Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

It will be conducted in Texas to "leverage" Texas' wind power, solar energy, underground salt-dome storage formations, hydrogen pipelines, natural gas infrastructure, international port operations, and its large, concentrated industrial infrastructure.

Frontier Energy, based in San Ramon, California, said in a release that it will be partnering with GTI and The University of Texas as well as with OneH2, Texas Gas Service, SoCalGas, Toyota Motor North America, Shell, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Air Liquide and PowerCell Sweden AB.

"The overall project has two tracks: one on the ground at UT Austin (H2 production/storage/use) and the other track is the Port of Houston study," Nico Bouwkamp, Frontier Energy's H2@Scale project manager said in an email on Sept. 16.

UT-Austin will host a first-of-its-kind integration of commercial hydrogen production, distribution, storage, and use. Project partners will generate zero-carbon hydrogen onsite via electrolysis with solar and wind power, and reformation of renewable natural gas from a Texas landfill.

It will be the first time that both sources of renewable hydrogen will be used in the same project, the release said.

"Hydrogen produced through RNG reformation and solar/wind powered electrolysis will be stored on site, which allows for use at time needed to use in the stationary fuel cell that provides power to the UT Austin's Texas Advanced Computing Center," Bouwkamp said.

"Basically, when the wind doesn't blow and the sun doesn't shine, hydrogen can still provide power."

Port of Houston

At the Port of Houston, the project team will conduct a feasibility study for scaling up hydrogen production and use. The team will assess available resources, prospective hydrogen users, and delivery infrastructure, such as existing pipelines that supply hydrogen to refineries.

Said Bouwkamp, "The real focus is on how all components can benefit from each other to reduce the overall cost of H2 because it is used in a holistic way across systems and industries."

The project started on July 1, and will continue for three years. According to the release, the project partners committed half of the funding for the $10.8 million project "that will demonstrate how hydrogen production and use can enable grid resiliency, align domestic industries, increase competitiveness, and promote job creation."

In their Sept. 15 statement, the partners said that the study will also examine "policies, regulations, and economics so that industry can develop a strategic action plan to present to policymakers to enable heavy-duty fuel cell transportation and energy systems."