Hydrogen fuel is increasingly used as a clean alternative in vehicles and mobile generators, replacing fossil fuel-powered internal combustion engines. However, transporting the fuel from the production plant to its destination remains a significant challenge for the industry. The most viable methods at present are pressurized tanks, chilled liquid tanks, or hydrogen pipelines.

Li et al. analyzed these transportation methods across different levels of development to inform their implementation as technology improves.

“We hope our model can be applied to the research and development of hydrogen storage and transportation infrastructure construction,” said author Miao Li.

According to their model, pressurized gas tanks are the cheapest way to transport hydrogen over short distances. Over larger distances, liquid tanks are more cost-effective. However, as hydrogen becomes a more mainstream fuel source, both pale in comparison to fully utilized pipelines, which are cheaper over time despite large initial construction costs.

The strategy employed at a given location depends on the available methods of transportation and the local cost of producing hydrogen. But the authors see a mix of technologies supplying the hydrogen of tomorrow.

“Different routes correspond to different storage and transportation modes and have different costs,” said Li. “A comprehensive hydrogen supply network will be formed in the future, rather than limited to a specific mode.”

The team plans to expand their model to account for more uncommon transportation methods.

“Technologies such as hydrogen mixing with natural gas, hydrogen transport by ship, liquid ammonia transport and liquid organic hydrogen carrier transport will be considered in the model,” said Li.

Source: “Economic assessment and comparative analysis of hydrogen transportation with various technical process,” by Miao Li, Pingwen Ming, Ran Huo, and Hailin Mu, Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy (2023). The article can be accessed at https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0141098.