Pressure Consolidation Refueling

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are being deployed in California and a number of Northwestern states to fulfill the zero emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are two times more efficient than conventional gasoline internal combustion engine vehicles; however, the cost of hydrogen fuel is approximately $13 to $16 per kilogram (kg) in California (1 kg of hydrogen has the same energy as a gallon of gasoline). The refueling station cost contribution is about half the total cost of hydrogen, about $6 to $8 per kg. Among all fueling components, the hydrogen compressor is the most expensive, comprising about 40% to 50% of a hydrogen refueling station’s equipment cost. The cost of the compressor is $500,000 or more for each dispensing position.

Argonne National Laboratory developed a patented gas fueling technology, known as pressure consolidation, for fueling hydrogen fuel cell and compressed natural gas vehicles. The pressure consolidation technology offers refueling stations a cost savings of up to 30% of their equipment costs or allows an existing station to double its fueling capacity without buying a new compressor. It also maximizes the fuel transfer from the delivery/storage tube trailer by more than 20%, thus maximizing fuel transportation efficiency.

The technology was transferred to PDC Machines, Inc. (PDC), a U.S.-based global compressor manufacturer. The transferred technology consists of a refueling algorithm and software tool that sizes refueling station equipment, simulates vehicle refueling, and optimizes the station cost for a given vehicle demand profile. The technology was transferred through two mechanisms: the Department of Energy’s Hydrogen at Scale (H2@Scale) initiative, and a technology licensing agreement between Argonne and PDC.  H2@Scale required the recipient to enter into a standardized prenegotiated version of a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with Argonne to streamline the technology transfer process.

During the technology transfer, PDC integrated Argonne’s fueling algorithm into its product development and control scheme. The technology is setting the standard for future gaseous refueling technologies in the United States, Japan, China, South Korea, and many European Union countries that deploy hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. The technology is described in two peer-reviewed journal articles and two patents. It is also publicized through numerous presentations in conferences, seminars and workshops, as well as in newsletters, bulletin boards and trade magazines. This technology transfer marks a transformation in the gaseous refueling industry.

Contact: Dr. Amgad Elgowainy, (630) 252-3074,

Award Year: