NIST Develops Near-Lossless Hydrogen Pumps For Upcoming Fuel Cell Vehicles

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All future hydrogen filling stations, like this Honda-owned example, will now be more easily tested for pump accuracy

The recent push by various governments towards the expansion of hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles has moved one step closer to reality. According to a story by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), scientists at the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have created the most advanced hydrogen filling pump ever, which will help guarantee that FCV owners receive exactly what they pay for.

The latest NIST handbook includes standards for hydrogen filling stations, which are required to operate at a minimum two percent accuracy. That means that when doling out one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of hydrogen, the swing in either direction is 20 grams, “…about the weight of four sheets of paper.” For reference, one kilogram of hydrogen contains approximately the same energy as a gallon of gasoline.

The IEEE story called hydrogen “a wily gas, with a molecular weight as light as molecules come.” Leaks during filling procedures could be troublesome to track down and dangerous given hydrogen’s obvious volatility.

However, it appears that NIST scientists have been able to design a prototype pump that dispenses three kilograms of fuel in three minutes with an accuracy of just 0.45 percent. That prototype can then be refined into field-test equipment for local inspectors to use to guarantee hydrogen filling equipment is functioning within the set standards.

“We can extrapolate that it is possible to measure hydrogen with accuracy sufficient for a fair marketplace,” said Jodie Pope, the NIST researcher who designed the equipment.

The next big news to break should revolve around how much one gas gallon equivalent (GGE) of hydrogen will cost, which might ultimately push potential buyers closer to a decision. Of the manufacturers who have confirmed FCVs arriving reasonably soon, Hyundai and Honda have confirmed that the price of hydrogen fuel will be included in the monthly lease price. Toyota and General Motors haven’t publicly announced their choices yet.

IEEE