June, 16 | 2:30 PM - 3:00 PM

Track 3C | Hydrogen

Kevin Simmons

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory | Chief Materials Scientist

Presentation Title:

Materials Compatibility for a Hydrogen Economy


In the last two years, hydrogen has seen a resurgence in activities. International and US governments have renewed their investment as an opportunity to mature hydrogen into the clean energy mix to decarbonize our economy further. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) has been researching and developing hydrogen technologies, evaluating materials for hydrogen compatibility in polymeric materials, pressure vessel development for storage, and evaluating the natural gas infrastructure materials to support the Department of Energy’s H2@Scale program. This presentation will provide a brief overview of research at PNNL o the previous topics. A discussion of ongoing research on hydrogen compatibility of the US natural gas infrastructure and hydrogen materials compatibility of polymers for the hydrogen infrastructure will be presented. A discussion on how to identify material compatibility issues often associated with hydrogen exposure and reduce the chance of incidents caused by improper material selection. Examples from real-world service failures and discoveries were made within the Hydrogen Materials (H-Mat) Consortium and the Blended Gas Project (Hyblend), a program funded by the DOE Office of Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office and co-led by PNNL and Sandia National Laboratories, will be shown and discussed. The H-Mat program is working to elucidate mechanisms of hydrogen degradation of materials used in the hydrogen infrastructure that lead to the failure of components like hoses, seals, pipelines, and valves. The research is being used to guide the industry on material selection to increase the reliability of those systems.


Dr. Simmons has worked on a wide variety of projects for nearly 30 years ranging from vehicle light-weighting to pressure vessels for hydrogen storage to hydrogen compatibility. His current focuses on investigating the effects of hydrogen interactions with polymers through multiscale modeling and experimental research. Current research has focused on model compounds of EPDM and NBR elastomers and the influence of high-pressure hydrogen gas and temperature on the material and their additives that influence the material's sealing performance. Dr. Simmons was the task lead for the Department of Energy's multi-lab, multi-company Hydrogen Storage Engineering Center of Excellence for hydrogen pressure vessels, containment, and balance of plant components. He led the effort to reduce costs, volume, and mass, and developed a balance of plant library. Through his experience, he gained an appreciation for the limited body of knowledge for hydrogen compatibility in polymers and elastomers at pressure and temperature. Dr. Simmons is currently co-leading for two multinational lab-led hydrogen materials compatibility programs (H-Mat) and evaluating natural gas distribution infrastructure for materials compatibility with blended natural gas and hydrogen (HyBlend) for the Department of Energy. This effort is funded by the US Department of Energy's Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Office. Dr. Simmons enjoys bringing fundamental science together with applied science to solve challenging problems. He likes to develop new ideas, resulting in becoming one of 40 staff members at PNNL as a Battelle Distinguished Inventor. Dr. Simmons has 20 US Patents, multiple Foreign Patents and patents pending, two R&D Magazine R & D 100 Awards, and two Federal Laboratory Consortium Award for technology transfer.

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