Advanced science.  Applied technology.


SwRI receives $1.8 million DOE contract award to demonstrate hydrogen compression


San Antonio — July 23, 2014 — Southwest Research Institute announced today it will begin work on a $1.8 million contract awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy to develop, fabricate and test a linear motor reciprocating compressor (LMRC). The project’s objective is to meet DOE’s goals of increasing efficiency and reducing cost for hydrogen compression, paving the way toward economical hydrogen storage. The contract is one of 10 awarded by DOE for projects that will advance hydrogen production and delivery technologies for this important fuel source.

At present, hydrogen storage is an expensive operation. Capital costs are high, and the equipment used is often inefficient and unreliable, leading to costly routine maintenance, repairs and downtime.

The LMRC is based on an SwRI-patented concept of driving a permanent magnet piston inside a hermetically sealed compressor cylinder through electromagnetic winding, thus minimizing mechanical part count, reducing leakage and ensuring better reliability.

SwRI’s researchers expect the LMRC system will be able to achieve the required compression ratio with efficiency greater than 95 percent, greatly exceeding current equipment capabilities with efficiencies that are typically only about 73 percent.

“The SwRI design is more efficient than traditional compressors, and thus will require less energy,” said Eugene Broerman, a senior research engineer in SwRI’s Mechanical Engineering Division and manager of the DOE project. “The simplified design should also be more reliable, requiring less maintenance, and it can easily be modularized for installation in the field.”

The project is expected to begin in August.

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