In this new era of alternative fuels, oil companies can’t just stand there and watch electricity and hydrogen take the place of their classic beloved petrol consuming machines. The best strategy they found is the most common-sensed one: get involved little by little in the business, adapt to the market’s needs, and perhaps change your image to the public from black oil to green leaves.
Linde Group is one of the most important gas and oil companies on the market, with subsidiaries all over the world. Now, it seems that they took the path of innovation in the alternative fuels field by inventing a different kind of hydrogen compressor. Of course, you may say, compressing hydrogen is obsolete, other more advanced methods have been found, but this old way is all we have for the moment.
Linde’s innovation is an ionic hydrogen compressor. Ionic compressors pretty much use the same principles of compression, with one difference: there’s no need for pistons to interact with hydrogen, and therefore the noise is much reduced, and so are the losses.
Greencarcongress.com describes the ionic compression technology: “In contrast to ordinary molecular liquids, ionic liquids consist entirely of particles with negative and positive electric charges. The ionic liquid media developed by Linde are organic salts with melting points between below 100 °C. Ionic liquids have no vapor pressure; the medium cannot mix with the ambient atmosphere provided it does not reach its decomposition temperature.
An ionic liquid compressor replaces the metal piston of a conventional compressor with a specially designed, nearly incompressible ionic liquid. The gas in the cylinder is compressed by the up-and-down motion of the liquid column, similar to the reciprocating motion of an ordinary piston. Because the ionic liquid does not mix with the gas, there is no need for seals and bearings in the compressor.”
Also, Linde has ongoing projects to make hydrogen refueling stations, that can easily deploy 350 to 700 bars hydrogen to cars. It remains to be seen if the hydrogen economy remains a viable option, after all. Batteries seem to gain territory and reach hydrogen from behind, in terms of costs and durability.