Celebrating National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day

October 5, 2022 8:00 am Published by

October 8th, formally designated as Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day, marks the opportunity to celebrate hydrogen and recognize its role in a secure and sustainable mix of energy for the future.

The date — 10/08 — represents the atomic weight of hydrogen: 1.008. When produced under certain conditions, hydrogen can offer clean energy storage with reduced gas emissions for power and fuel use. Sandia works with the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office to understand and address the technical challenges to developing and deploying hydrogen and fuel cells. Thanks to a deep, quantitative understanding and scientific basis for materials interaction with hydrogen and safety, Sandia is able to contribute to the advancement of hydrogen technologies.

Today, we’re recognizing the event with a few highlights from hydrogen research conducted at Sandia.  

Sandia joined DOE’S SHASTA initiative to advance underground hydrogen storage capabilities

Sandia joined the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Subsurface Hydrogen Assessment, Storage and Technology Acceleration (SHASTA) collaboration as its fourth research partner. SHASTA is designed to use unique capabilities and expertise of key national laboratories to determine the viability, safety, and reliability of storing hydrogen in subsurface environments.

Sandia researchers are exploring making ammonia with little more than sun, air, and hydrogen

PRODUCTION PROCESS — Evan Bush, left, and Andrea Ambrosini explore using concentrating solar power-generated heat to produce ammonia. (Photo by Craig Fritz)

Sandia scientists are working to make feeding the world much less carbon intensive by developing a new chemical-producing process. About half the world’s food production relies on nitrogen fertilizer primarily composed of ammonia synthesized via the Haber-Bosch process. This process uses fossil fuels made of hydrocarbons to drive the reactions that convert hydrogen and nitrogen into ammonia for fertilizer, medicine, plastics and other synthetic products. Funded by the Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office, Sandia researcher Andrea Ambrosini and team are exploring ways to decarbonize ammonia production by using concentrated solar thermal power.

“We’re leaders in concentrating solar power and have the only concentrating solar power tower test facility in the United States,” Ambrosini said, referring to Sandia’s National Solar Thermal Test Facility. “Currently, CSP is mainly used to produce heat for electricity generation, but a natural progression is to explore using CSP-generated heat in other ways, like splitting water to produce hydrogen or producing ammonia.”

Accelerating technology for hydrogen safety codes and standards

Hypothetical layout of hydrogen vehicle refueling station with compact layout using revised setback distances for liquid hydrogen

Drivers might not always ponder the safety features that surround them as they cruise into their local gas station for a fill up. But for Sandia researcher Ethan Hecht, fueling stations’ design and safety has been the focus of several years of experiments and research. The goal? Help ensure hydrogen can safely and easily be used at fueling stations where hydrogen-powered cars or vehicles can refill much like their gasoline-powered counterparts.

For the work, the Department of Energy Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Technologies Office presented Hecht with an award for technology acceleration during its Annual Merit Review in June.

Sandia Enters Agreement to Build Zero-carbon Hydrogen Economy

Sandia entered a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Los Alamos National Laboratory and the New Mexico Departments of Economic Development; Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources; and Environment to develop a zero-carbon hydrogen economy not only in New Mexico but across the United States.

Ocean research with hydrogen fuel cells

Lennie Klebanoff has received considerable acknowledgment for his groundbreaking work to understand the wider applicability of zero-emission hydrogen fuel cells.

But Klebanoff didn’t expect that his work would inspire students at one of the oldest and most respected schools of ocean and Earth research on the planet: The Scripps Institution of Oceanography at U.C. San Diego. These students petitioned Scripps to commit to a zero-emission fleet of research vessels following an analysis of hydrogen fuel-cell power on ships.

“It’s completely out of the blue,” Klebanoff said of the petitions and personal appeals to school administrators. “We didn’t talk with these students. They are trying to motivate the university to take action. It’s great that our work inspired these young people.”

Exploring possibilities

Not familiar with hydrogen and its possibilities?

  • Watch the Department of Energy clean hydrogen explainer video, narrated by Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm.
  • Join popular YouTuber Dianna Cowern, aka “Physics Girl,” from when she turned to Sandia scientists Chris San Marchi and Anna Snider Lord to help her break down the current and emerging science of producing hydrogen by renewable methods. “Hydrogen really is a very flexible energy storage media and conveyance media,” Chris said. “So it can be really a central theme in our future energy portfolio.”
  • Download and print shareable cards from the Department of Energy Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office that offer facts and diagrams about hydrogen and fuel cells and their many uses.