skip to main content

Title: Oil-free centrifugal hydrogen compression technology demonstration

One of the key elements in realizing a mature market for hydrogen vehicles is the deployment of a safe and efficient hydrogen production and delivery infrastructure on a scale that can compete economically with current fuels. The challenge, however, is that hydrogen, being the lightest and smallest of gases with a lower viscosity and density than natural gas, readily migrates through small spaces and is difficult to compresses efficiently. While efficient and cost effective compression technology is crucial to effective pipeline delivery of hydrogen, the compression methods used currently rely on oil lubricated positive displacement (PD) machines. PD compression technology is very costly, has poor reliability and durability, especially for components subjected to wear (e.g., valves, rider bands and piston rings) and contaminates hydrogen with lubricating fluid. Even so called “oil-free” machines use oil lubricants that migrate into and contaminate the gas path. Due to the poor reliability of PD compressors, current hydrogen producers often install duplicate units in order to maintain on-line times of 98-99%. Such machine redundancy adds substantially to system capital costs. As such, DOE deemed that low capital cost, reliable, efficient and oil-free advanced compressor technologies are needed. MiTi’s solution is a completely oil-free, multi-stage, high-speed,more » centrifugal compressor designed for flow capacity of 500,000 kg/day with a discharge pressure of 1200 psig. The design employs oil-free compliant foil bearings and seals to allow for very high operating speeds, totally contamination free operation, long life and reliability. This design meets the DOE’s performance targets and achieves an extremely aggressive, specific power metric of 0.48 kW-hr/kg and provides significant improvements in reliability/durability, energy efficiency, sealing and freedom from contamination. The multi-stage compressor system concept has been validated through full scale performance testing of a single stage with helium similitude gas at full speed in accordance with ASME PTC-10. The experimental results indicated that aerodynamic performance, with respect to compressor discharge pressure, flow, power and efficiency exceeded theoretical prediction. Dynamic testing of a simulated multistage centrifugal compressor was also completed under a parallel program to validate the integrity and viability of the system concept. The results give strong confidence in the feasibility of the multi-stage design for use in hydrogen gas transportation and delivery from production locations to point of use.« less
  1. Mohawk Innovative Technology Inc., Albany, NY (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Mohawk Innovative Technology Inc., Albany, NY (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
08 HYDROGEN; Compliant Foil Bearings; Compliant Foil Seals; High-speed Turbomachinery; Oil-free Compressor; Centrifugal Compressor, Hydrogen Pipeline; Hydrogen Infrastructure