– By Kiran Julin
With the rise of renewable energy as well as increasing uncertainty associated with losses due to power surges and severe weather events, energy conservation plays an important role in ensuring reliable power supply in critical infrastructures such as health care facilities, data centers, and telecommunications. Hydrogen has shown promise as an energy storage solution, and researchers are developing materials that help store hydrogen over long periods of time at low cost and high energy efficiency.
With support from the Department of Energy’s Office of Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies, a team of researchers led by the Berkeley Lab is examining backup power systems based on sponge-like materials called metal- organic frameworks, or MOFs, and found that with more research and development, they can be cost-competitive with other energy storage technologies for backup power. MOFs are porous crystalline materials made of metal ions, where
large pores within the crystals store hydrogen gas. As part of the DOE’s Hydrogen Materials Advanced Research Consortium (HyMARC), and working with researchers from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and UC Berkeley, the team used techno-economic analysis and process modeling to analyze system performance. Their study was published in Nature Energy.
“MOFs have high surface areas and hydrogen adsorption capacities, where hydrogen molecules can adhere to the surface of MOF pores,” said Berkeley Lab postdoctoral researcher and lead author Peng Peng. “Especially for backup power applications, they have a simple charge/discharge mechanism, which allows the stored hydrogen to be released immediately upon discharge without the use of chemical reactions, which often require high temperature. “
Using experimental data provided by Berkeley Lab scientist Jeffrey Long and molecular simulations to predict MOF performance at the system level, the researchers found that for backup power applications under 10 -MW, such as a microgrid or community-sized data center, MOF systems can be selected. can be cost-competitive with other large, stationary backup power applications, such as pumped-storage hydropower and batteries. The study also found that MOFs are more cost-competitive in liquid hydrogen storage and have a higher system-level energy density than compressed hydrogen storage, therefore requiring less space.
“Storing hydrogen using MOFs for backup power is not yet commercially available, but existing MOFs are featured in hydrogen storage tanks and there are many startup companies working to improve this technology, “said Berkeley Lab scientist and co -author Hanna Breunig. “These systems could be more than a few years old, but our study shows that further research and development on MOFs could have a significant impact on increasing robustness.”
Learn more about our energy storage research at the Berkeley Lab Energy Storage Center and check out our new virtual field trip exploring how energy storage increases resilience.