Recently, we purchased a hydrogen generator for R&D in order to have an in-house supply of hydrogen. As VOCID® H2Confirm, our solution for monitoring hydrogen purity and quality, is constantly improving to meet customers’ needs and the market, this requires us to have a steady supply of hydrogen at our disposal for R&D experiments and trials.
In order to have a steady supply of hydrogen in-house, there are in essence two options:
Purchase cylinders: Cylinders are good for high scale use of hydrogen where there is more consumption and all safety protocols can be followed as per the standards.
Purchase of a hydrogen generator: This would offer us a constant supply of hydrogen while avoiding some of the obstacles that are common to cylinders. This option is great for us because it's more safe and also caters to low consumption.
A few weeks ago, we attended the Isranalytica Conference hosted by the Israel Analytical Chemistry Society to get a better understanding of the new hydrogen generator we have been renting and trying out as a part of our R&D technology. We still had many questions about hydrogen generators which were resolved by this conference thankfully.
Below you can find away the main considerations for using a hydrogen generator for R&D:
Hydrogen generators rely on water and electricity to make hydrogen. The hydrogen generator uses electricity to separate oxygen and hydrogen and then emits oxygen on one side and hydrogen on the other side.
Because it uses water, there is a lot of humidity inside the generator which can be a source of noise during R&D which is one of the obstacles we had to overcome.
The hydrogen generator has two columns of absorbing material that aim to reduce the humidity. The humidity is very low but since our sensors are highly sensitive to humidity levels, we needed a way to drop this level even more.
We raised this issue during the conference and one of the insights we gathered was that it’s possible to use more of these humidity traps. Interestingly, these columns can be dried and reused, if you are confident that you can seal it well enough so that there is no leak.
When handling the hydrogen generator, it was also important for us to learn that the specific hydrogen generator we were using could handle a pressure of up to 5 bar. One of our needs is to fill small cylinders with H2 at a pressure that’s higher than the atmospheric level. In order to fill these cylinders, we need the H2 source to be of a higher pressure than the target pressure.
We learned that for the specific hydrogen generator model we use, its intended use case is to be a part of GC where hydrogen is used as a gas carrier. Since, GC requires lower flows the generator couldn’t handle the flow rate we inputted and that’s why it was presenting problems.
A smaller flow level is safer to use. The H2 generator also has protection protocols in place that automatically checks if there is a consumption of hydrogen (based on some resistance of the flow) so that the hydrogen won’t spread out in the lab.
We are very excited to have a hydrogen generator as a part of our lab equipment and to see our R&D efficiency increase as a result!
Thank you to everyone at the conference who helped us. It was great to have such discussions, but also to see innovations of analytical chemistry happening locally.