H2 Fuel, retrieve and store hydrogen with sodium borohydride

The Dutch startup has been developing this technology to retrieve hydrogen not from electrolysis but from a chemical reaction with ultra acidic water.

If you take a look at the demo videos on their website the process looks almost too simple to be true. They have sodium borohydride and then they just add the ultra acidic water to it. The chemical process that follows instantly splits the hydrogen atoms from the rest and the hydrogen gas is released.

The hydrogen can then be used to power a fuel cell or even a gas turbine. Due to this process of adding the activator the release of the hydrogen is very much controllable which makes it a potential candidate for let’s say a car or ship engine. Speaking of which; there is a pilot in development that aims to have a hydrogen-powered cruise vessel up and running in the Amsterdam canals by 2023.

This metal hydride solution is solvable in water and in that form very easy to store and transport. It could even be stored as a powder and contain its energy forever. With a 100L tank of solved sodium borohydride, a car could drive 1500 kilometers according to this startup.

Plant One in Rotterdam is currently running a pilot process that generates 125kw successfully. The main challenge they are facing now is the regeneration process as you need to turn the process around to have it working like an engine. When the sodium borohydride is reacting with the ultra acidic water it forms hydrogen and sodium boroxide. The next “trick” would be to turn this sodium boroxide back into sodium borohydride. According to a test facility at the TU Delft they made enough progress now to be implemented in a car or boat.

This process is also substantially cheaper than current processes to generate hydrogen as this chemical process is not only the hydrogen atom that splitting of the in the sodium hydride, but also the hydrogen in water is released due to the enormous amount of energy that is released during the process. So it generates 8 hydrogen atoms instead of 4.

Hopefully, this start-up will make it through this phase of evolution and a ready-to-market product will launch soon.  If you look at all the articles in the press over the last years and how promising this invention should be, it is a bit worrying that this product is still not commercially marketed.