The Energy and Environmental Research Center in Grand Forks, North Dakota has developed a way to reform various liquids at the pump into hydrogen under high pressure. This means that methanol, ethanol, gasoline and other alcohol fuels can be transported to these stations, then reformed into hydrogen at the pump, eliminating the need to carry compressed hydrogen gas by truck, ship, train or pipeline.
This state of the art pump creates hydrogen onsite and on demand at the time of refueling. According to EERC Director Gerald Groenewold, “Through the hydrogen programs at the EERC, we are breaking down barriers, bringing down the costs, and shortening the timetable to the point where hydrogen will be a major component of our national energy future. The high-pressure hydrogen production technology is a cornerstone technology for achieving those goals.”
Military jet fuel is also the subject of research for this hydrogen reforming technology, which is notable since development of H2 fuel for airplanes has been lagging the automotive industry. The researchers at EERC also don’t mention the plans for what to do with the left over carbon atoms from these hydrocarbon fuels once the hydrogen is extracted.
But, the research is promising, nonetheless. Transporting hydrogen-rich liquid chemical compounds for which there already is an infrastructure in place and then creating pure H2 at the pump would solve many of the distribution issues. And, shortening the path to the rollout of hydrogen cars is in all of our best interests.