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Affordable and efficient hydrogen production on-site and on-demand



A new article from Element 1 has been shared on the Innovation News Network website about how hydrogen production can not only happen on-site and on-demand but also deliver significant benefits for the environment and mitigate storage and transportation challenges associated with compressed hydrogen.

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Element 1’s compact and efficient hydrogen generator technology offers affordable, onsite and on-demand hydrogen production.

Located in Bend, Oregon, US, Element 1 Corp is a global leader in the development of methanol-to-hydrogen generators for affordable, on-site, and on-demand hydrogen production. Drawing on more than 140 years of experience in hydrogen generation, hydrogen purification, and fuel cells, the technical team at Element 1 has achieved the most compact and highest-efficiency hydrogen generator available today.


The Element 1 approach

Recognising that manufacturing hydrogen is not difficult but transporting hydrogen (compressed or liquid) is expensive and challenging, the approach used by Element 1 is to convert a mixture of methanol and water into high-purity hydrogen at the point of use. The product hydrogen meets or exceeds ISO 14687-2019 purity specifications for low-temperature polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells as well as compressed hydrogen for dispensing into onboard storage cylinders for fuel cell vehicles. Typical product hydrogen purity is >99.99% hydrogen with <0.2 ppm CO (dry basis). The impurity is methane at <30 ppm, and there is about 40 ppm to 70 ppm water vapour.


With three product models scaling from 4kg of hydrogen per day up to 390kg of hydrogen a day, an Element 1 hydrogen generator operates using a highly efficient thermochemical process and achieves energy efficiency of up to 84%, resulting in low hydrogen cost at the point of use. For example, with methanol priced at $400/metric ton, the cost of the produced hydrogen is less than $3/kg of hydrogen. Required electrical power is negligible, less than 1 kW at maximum hydrogen output on the largest hydrogen generators, or about 0.1 kWhrs/kg of hydrogen delivered to the user. This is 500 times less electrical power compared to typical water electrolysers.


The L18 and its larger variants are also showing potential for distributed electric power generation (primary and backup) for applications, including battery electrical vehicle (BEV) charging stations, data centres, commerce, off-grid developments, temporary or transportable power, and critical infrastructure. All these applications benefit from the ease and low cost of transporting liquid methanol using existing infrastructure that was developed for distributing petroleum fuels (gasoline, diesel, aviation fuel).

Stand-alone BEV charging station showing the L18 methanol-to-hydrogen generator

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