Hydrogen is an essential part of meeting Canada's commitments to net-zero emissions by 2050. Its use at scale is a key opportunity to diversify Canada's future energy mix and it offers solutions for hard-to-abate sectors. On December 16, 2020, the Government of Canada, like many countries, announced its hydrogen strategy for reasserting Canadian leadership in hydrogen technologies and accelerating hydrogen adoption in multiple sectors of the economy. Canada is one of the top 10 global producers of hydrogen today and is well placed to transition this base to clean hydrogen production pathways and become a major clean hydrogen exporter.
The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) contributes to addressing the Hydrogen Strategy's innovation, codes, standards and Regulations, and policies challenges. The strategy envisages collaborative efforts between federal labs, industry, and academia in consortium-based projects for research, development and demonstration with the NRC in a leading role, ensuring industry alignment and impact across the value chain.
The hydrogen pillar of the NRC's Advanced Clean Energy program leverages our reputational influence and applies these technical capabilities and facilities to build a leading role in developing knowledge and technologies to enable the production, distribution and use of zero-greenhouse-gas emissions hydrogen. Research activities will span from materials to systems engineering.
The NRC has foundational capabilities applicable to the R&D challenges identified across the hydrogen value chain with over 20 years of investment in this area. Our researchers have extensive experience in clean hydrogen production technologies, electrochemistry, materials characterization and testing, hydrogen safety and conversion technologies. This helps us offer clients access to world-class competencies and unique and specialized facilities conveniently located at the NRC sites across the country.
An illustrative initial list of focus areas, based on industry requirements, technology gaps and the NRC's ability to address them, is under development, including:
- hydrogen production materials and technologies from water, biomass and natural gas feedstocks for reduced cost
- multi-scale modelling for performance and reliability predictions, validated by lab testing under operational conditions; techno-economic, life-cycle and maturity models
- requirements for system integration, supplier qualification, and support to regulations, codes and standards as well as safety assessment.
- hydrogen purification based on membrane-based and electrochemical technologies
- hydrogen distribution and storage, including materials testing, sensors, biological phenomena in large-scale storage
- hydrogen conversion technologies including fuel cells, combustion and chemical conversion
- development of applications using hydrogen, including technologies for efficient infrastructure (sensors, machine learning, metering, quality, etc.) and storage
Core projects undergoing or in planning stage are:
- development of electrochemical technologies across the hydrogen value chain
- development of thermochemical technologies for conversion of waste and biomass to hydrogen
- development of bio-mediated technologies to reduce the carbon intensity of hydrogen production processes
- materials assessment under hydrogen and hydrogen / natural gas blends
- Support to hydrogen uses in natural gas blends or dedicated pipeline network, including modelling, materials assessment and large-scale storage
- development of hydrogen infrastructure solutions for transportation applications
- support to industrialization of membrane electrolysis through R&D on quality control and suppliers development
- hydrogen combustion optimization for heat production
- harmonization and definition of codes, standards and regulations for hydrogen technologies.
- Hydrogen-safe laboratories equipped with fuel cell and electrolyzers testing stations
- Combustion facilities
- Materials testing
- Metrology laboratories
- Bioprocesses and bioengineering development for hydrogen production
- Microbiological lab-scale testing
- Pre-treatment/conditioning systems
- Bench/lab-scale bioreactor systems
- Bench/lab-scale bioelectrochemical systems
- Biomolecular systems and analysis
- Analytical lab
- Secure servers for data acquisition, management and analysis
- Machine learning
- Gas turbine laboratory
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The NRC is looking to engage companies along the hydrogen value chain – technology developers, components suppliers, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), systems integrators, electric and gas utilities as well as hydrogen end users – to develop and deploy integrated solutions. Projects from materials to systems are in scope with this pillar.
Our multi-scale modelling, techno-economic and life-cycle analysis capabilities offer the ability to assess and identify optimal pathways at a variety of scales. Our data analytics and machine learning complement those capabilities in support to the establishment of a hydrogen infrastructure and hubs as planned in the implementation of the Canadian Hydrogen Strategy.
The NRC brings a unique multidisciplinary perspective to industry challenges around both waste-to-fuel conversion and utilization.
By delivering to clearly defined cost and technical performance outcomes, our research, analysis and demonstration activities will increase business revenue and market opportunities for technology developers and suppliers while reducing hydrogen production, distribution and utilization costs.
Industry players along the entire value chain can benefit from the NRC's experience with market-access organizations, our relationships with industry, governments and academia, and our reputation as objective technical experts. Our unique technology risk management capabilities help companies develop and maintain a globally competitive position, support quality improvements and reduce the capital, operating and end-user costs of their operations.
The hydrogen pillar is looking to collaborate with federal laboratories as well as:
- companies involved along the hydrogen value chain from production, purification, transmission and distribution to conversion
- organizations involved in the production of codes and standards
- governmental bodies at all levels including regulators
- Academia and global R&D organizations