Hydrogen Production

Emerging technologies are key to solving gaps in hydrogen production.

Addressing technology gaps in hydrogen production to reduce high production costs.

Over several decades, Los Alamos has developed a broad range of capabilities to support emerging technologies for hydrogen production from a variety of domestic resources, including fossil fuels, renewables, and nuclear energy. Today, these capabilities have suitable and timely applicability to accelerate the emerging hydrogen economy.

We seek partners who want to leverage Los Alamos capabilities to advance their technology and product ambitions through demonstration and deployment in the following areas:

Catalysis, separations, and sensing

Los Alamos has invested in hydrogen production technologies with a focus on lowering costs and increasing efficiencies. Core capabilities include catalyst development, testing, and independent validation; steam methane reforming reactions; and hydrogen purification and separations. Our analytical and sensing capabilities include characterization of hydrogen end-use products, online and continuous monitoring of gas phase reactions, and hydrogen leak detection.

Electrolysis

With a goal to reduce the cost of producing clean hydrogen using electrolyzers, Los Alamos has advanced knowledge, expertise, and capabilities related to low-temperature water electrolysis. Critical components for electrolyzers are under deployment, including PGM-free electro catalysts, polymer electrolyte membranes (including hydrocarbon, alkaline, and high-temperature PEM), porous transport layers, and membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs).

Los Alamos is also a partner in the Hydrogen from Next-generation Electrolyzer of Water (H2NEW) consortium—a multi-lab effort funded by the Department of Energy—with additional efforts on reversible fuel cells and electrolysis.

 

Modeling and simulation of production systems and processes

Design, modeling, and simulation expertise contribute to the validation behind our partners' and our hydrogen production technologies. Below are several of our capabilities:

Quantum chemistry, surface chemistry, molecular dynamics (quantum reactive, accelerated), catalysis, and chemical engineering process modeling are being employed towards designing material systems with enhanced hydrogen production metrics.

Modeling manufacturing processes and process intensification is applied to evaluate the performance of different catalysts for low-temperature electrolysis and to design novel catalytic systems for improved production of hydrogen.

Simulation toolsets that address models at the molecular and unit process scale, and uncertainty analysis at all scales.

State-of-the-art multiphysics, multiscale atomistic, and transport modeling capabilities, and extensive expertise in modeling diffusion and reaction chemistry that could be leveraged for extracting hydrogen from materials.

Computational fluid dynamics simulations to answer questions in fluid and gas flows, including high-temperature and mixed-phase flow relevant to hydrogen production.

Multiscale simulations can be used to reengineer nanoscale biological compartments and optimize their efficiencies as bioreactors for clean hydrogen production.

Nuclear energy energy-based systems

Small nuclear reactors, as well as other advanced reactors, efficiently produce thermal energy that can be utilized directly for hydrogen process heat. Fission energy from irradiation of uranium-based material produces large amounts of heat that can be directed to hydrogen applications.

We have special expertise supporting nuclear reactors and nuclear heating applications and high-fidelity turbulent flows. A full suite of capabilities for development of reactor technology, including fuel and moderator materials, optimized heat transfer mechanisms, criticality experiments, instrumentation and sensors, and safeguards are applied. We offer specific expertise and technology for micro-reactors (100 kW-5 MW electric) that are promising for placement in rural or off-grid locations.

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Biomass and microbial production systems

Biomass, as well as waste streams (organic and inorganic such as plastics), can be used for generation of hydrogen. We have unique capabilities in cultivation and fermentation of microbial systems that can be configured for hydrogen production from waste resources.

We are improving enzymatic catalysis through rational enzyme engineering, which can be applied to optimize microbial hydrogen generation. Wastepaper materials, as well as municipal solid wastes, could be low-cost sources of hydrogen.

Theoretical capabilities developed for understanding woody biomass architecture and morphology have been applied to optimize thermochemical processes (e.g., gasification, pyrolysis, etc).

Wind energy can be coupled with water electrolysis to generate green hydrogen, and Los Alamos expertise in modeling of wind turbines is being used to maximize wind energy efficiency.

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Headshot of Duncan McBranch

Duncan McBranch

Hydrogen Hub Capture Manager

Headshot of Melissa Fox

Melissa Fox

Director of Applied Energy Programs