Shell-Led Consortium Selected by DOE to Demonstrate Feasibility of Large-Scale Liquid Hydrogen Storage

Oct 14, 2021
A consortium of public, private and academic experts led by Shell International Exploration and Production, Inc. (Shell), a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell plc, is pioneering an ambitious path to enable large-scale liquid hydrogen (LH2) storage for international trade applications. This is a largely untapped field with potential for advancing the global commercialization of hydrogen as an accessible, affordable and low carbon energy commodity.

Shell and the consortium partners—including McDermott's CB&I Storage Solutions, NASA's Kennedy Space Center, GenH2 and the University of Houston—have been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office 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. The DOE has awarded $6 million to finance the project, and Shell and CB&I Storage Solutions will both provide an additional $3 million each, for a total project fund of $12 million.

"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."

"McDermott is leveraging the sixty 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.

"GenH2 is focused on establishing efficient manufacturing capabilities and repeatable processes to mass produce standard solutions for hydrogen production, liquefaction, storage and transfer," said Cody Bateman, Founder and CEO of GenH2, a leader in liquid hydrogen infrastructure. "We're excited to be part of this consortium in demonstrating the viability of LH2 storage solutions that will facilitate a global shift to carbon free energy."

"The Cryogenics Test Laboratory at Kennedy leverages its experience supporting space exploration to provide cryogenic services for government and industry partners, cryogenic expertise and experimental testing and technical standards for energy-efficient cryogenics on Earth and in space," said Adam Swanger, NASA principal investigator for the Cryo Lab. "For many years, Kennedy has had the largest liquid hydrogen storage tanks in the world and we're excited to lend our years of experience in working with liquid hydrogen and liquid nitrogen to assist with this project."

This project aims to advance the US as a global energy leader in LH2-based international supply chain development and facilitate the commercialization of both blue and green hydrogen export opportunities. The insulation technology, cryogenic testing equipment and thermal model developed under this program aims to have widespread benefits for several LH2 applications.

"I am honored to represent the University of Houston on this project," said Vemuri Balakotaiah, Ph.D., a professor and the Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished University Chair in the William A. Brookshire Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Houston. "I am eager to work with the University of Houston students and post-doctoral fellows alongside the other consortium companies in the development of effective insulation and thermal models of commercial scale LH2 tanks."

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.

Notes to the Editor:

  • 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.
  • The ability to transport hydrogen between countries via pipelines and ships will be a key element of the future energy system. Multilateral cooperation between government and industry, as well as coordinated investment in infrastructure, ships and international standards, are fundamental to achieving an effective hydrogen supply chain.