Skip to Content
Find More Like This
Return to Search

Hydrogen Electrochemical Energy Storage Device

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Contact NREL About This Technology

Technology Marketing Summary

The hydrogen fuel cell market is still in the early stages of development.  However, with advances in technology the market and associated fuel cell applications is starting to gain traction. Recently, major vehicle manufacturers have announced production-level hydrogen vehicles as soon as 2015 and the fuel cell market is expected to grow from an estimated $775 million in 2012 to over $14.1 billion by 2022. 

One of the most attractive aspects of hydrogen is that it has a very high energy density of approximately 30,000 Watt-hour per kilogram (Wh/kg). Comparatively, state of the art Li-Ion batteries have energy densities of about 400 Wh/kg.

While hydrogen fuel cells have been heavily investigated as an alternative means to power generation, the technology continuously suffers from high cost, durability, and storage issues. The present invention addresses these issues by integrating the hydrogen storage and electrochemical processes into a single monolithic device.


NREL scientists have developed a novel fuel cell design. The design comprises of a hydrogen-based electrochemical energy storage device which includes a counter electrode made of materials with an affinity for hydrogen, a hydrogen sorption electrode, and an ion-exchange membrane between the counter electrode and the hydrogen storage electrode.

The counter electrode may be comprised of a variety of materials and configurations that enable electrochemical interactions with hydrogen. Furthermore, the ion-exchange membrane may be a variety of materials and configurations that enable ion-transport between the electrodes while maintaining a physical separation that inhibits interaction of the hydrogen with the reactive components of the counter electrode or other species in the surrounding environment.

One of the key aspects of this design is the unique hydrogen storage mechanism that enables hydrogen atoms or dihydrogen molecules to be stored and also conducted so that they may participate in electrochemical processes. Unlike metal hydrides or chemical hydrides, which are typically used to store hydrogen, this design uses relatively "inert" lightweight materials where the hydrogen is stored on the electrode materials with a substantially weaker binding than is typically the case. This "weaker" binding is sufficient to store substantial amounts of hydrogen at ambient temperatures, but also enables the transport and low energy barriers needed for efficient electrochemical processing.

  • Better storage
  • Storage and electrochemical processes in single device
Applications and Industries
  • Transportation
  • Energy Storage
  • Hydrogen
  • Fuel Cells
Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Patent 8,501,349
Hydrogen-based electrochemical energy storage
An energy storage device (100) providing high storage densities via hydrogen storage. The device (100) includes a counter electrode (110), a storage electrode (130), and an ion conducting membrane (120) positioned between the counter electrode (110) and the storage electrode (130). The counter electrode (110) is formed of one or more materials with an affinity for hydrogen and includes an exchange matrix for elements/materials selected from the non-noble materials that have an affinity for hydrogen. The storage electrode (130) is loaded with hydrogen such as atomic or mono-hydrogen that is adsorbed by a hydrogen storage material such that the hydrogen (132, 134) may be stored with low chemical bonding. The hydrogen storage material is typically formed of a lightweight material such as carbon or boron with a network of passage-ways or intercalants for storing and conducting mono-hydrogen, protons, or the like. The hydrogen storage material may store at least ten percent by weight hydrogen (132, 134) at ambient temperature and pressure.
National Renewable Energy Laboratory 08/06/2013
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
ROI 08-31DevelopmentAvailable09/06/201310/16/2013

Contact NREL About This Technology

To: Eric Payne<>