From: Sandia National Laboratories.
Published December 9, 2014 07:59 AM

Sandia Labs study points to advantages of storing hydrogen in salt mines

Large-scale storage of low-pressure, gaseous hydrogen in salt caverns and other underground sites for transportation fuel and grid-scale energy applications offers several advantages over above-ground storage, says a recent Sandia National Laboratories study sponsored by the Department of Energy’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office.

Geologic storage of hydrogen gas could make it possible to produce and distribute large quantities of hydrogen fuel for the growing fuel cell electric vehicle market, the researchers concluded.

Geologic storage solutions can service a number of key hydrogen markets since “costs are more influenced by the geology available rather than the size of the hydrogen market demand,” said Sandia’s Anna Snider Lord, the study’s principal investigator.

Salt caverns such as the one depicted here could provide a low-cost solution for the geologic storage of hydrogen. The colors in the illustration represent depth, with blue as the deepest part of the cavern and red the most shallow. (Image courtesy of Sandia National Laboratories)

The work, Lord said, could provide a roadmap for further research and demonstration activities, such as an examination of environmental issues and geologic formations in major metropolitan areas that can hold gas. Researchers could then determine whether hydrogen gas mixes with residual gas or oil, reacts with minerals in the surrounding rock or poses any environmental concerns.

Storage seen as key to realizing hydrogen’s market growth

Should the market demands for hydrogen fuel increase with the introduction of fuel cell electric vehicles, the U.S. will need to produce and store large amounts of cost-effective hydrogen from domestic energy sources, such as natural gas, solar and wind, said Daniel Dedrick, Sandia hydrogen program manager.

As Toyota, General Motors, Hyundai and others move ahead with plans to develop and sell or lease hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles, practical storage of hydrogen fuel at large scale is necessary to enable widespread hydrogen-powered transportation infrastructure. Such storage options, Dedrick said, are needed to realize the full potential of hydrogen for transportation.

Read more at Sandia National Laboratories.

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