McDermott, Shell, NASA explore liquid hydrogen storage at scale

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Power sector engineering and construction firm McDermott International is part of a consortium selected by the U.S. Department of Energy to demonstrate the feasibility of liquid hydrogen storage at massive scale.

McDermott’s CB&I Storage Solutions has joined with Shell International Exploration and Production, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, GenH2 and the University of Houston for the project.

DOE’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office has selected the group and awarded $6 million to finance the project, while CB&I and Shell will provide an additional $3 million each.

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The project will try to demonstrate that a large-scale LH2 tank, with a capacity ranging from 20,000 to 100,000 cubic meters, is both feasible and cost competitive at import and export terminals. If successful, it could enable large-scale LH2 storage for international trade applications.

“McDermott is leveraging the 60 years of LH2 storage technology expertise of our CB&I Storage Solutions business to exponentially scale up safe capacity thresholds to meet growing demands,” said Samik Mukherjee, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, McDermott International. “This consortium will accelerate that momentum as we work together to advance the next generation of sustainable energy.”

The consortium will collaborate to develop a technically innovative and economically viable concept design for the large scale LH2 storage tank. Additionally, the group will engineer and construct a scaled-down demonstration tank that will be tested to validate the feasibility of the design and the thermal model for commercial-scale design.

Hydrogen itself does not emit carbon when burned. To be truly “green” hydrogen, it would need to be created by electrolysis powered with zero-carbon resources such as wind or solar. Hydrogen could also be created through more carbon intensive steam refactoring of methane while added carbon capture technologies can lower emissions.

Shell will lead the project and provide guidance on hydrogen supply chain and safety. CB&I Storage Solutions will provide engineering, design and LH2 construction storage expertise.

GenH2 will design and manufacture one of the world’s most advanced thermal testing devices, known as Cryostat-900.

NASA will work closely with GenH2 on novel testing development.

The University of Houston will focus their efforts on the creation of detailed thermal models of the proposed insulation systems.

“A cost-effective, long-range hydrogen supply chain can have a transformative impact in shaping a sustainable future for energy,” said Yuri Sebregts, Chief Technology Officer for Shell. “Our consortium recognizes that this project can become a cornerstone in making that future possible. It’s a sizable engineering challenge—but we have the right people, partners and outlook to deliver this first-of-its-kind LH2 storage technology.”

This public, private and academic endeavor will support the goals of the DOE H2@Scale and Hydrogen Shot initiatives, bringing stakeholders together in an effort to reduce the cost of clean hydrogen and advance its role in the energy transition.

Originally published by Rod Walton on

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