Hydrogen distribution

Currently, hydrogen is distributed through three methods:

  • Pipeline: This least-expensive way to deliver large volumes of hydrogen is limited—with only about 700 miles of U.S. pipelines located near large petroleum refineries and chemical plants in Illinois, California, and the Gulf Coast.

  • High-Pressure Tube Trailers: Transporting compressed hydrogen gas by truck, railcar, ship, or barge in high-pressure tube trailers is expensive and used primarily for distances of 200 miles or less.

  • Liquefied Hydrogen Tankers: Cryogenic liquefaction enables hydrogen to be transported more efficiently over longer distances by truck, railcar, ship, or barge compared with using high-pressure tube trailers, even though the liquefaction process is expensive.

  • As ammonia


Creating an infrastructure for hydrogen distribution and delivery to thousands of individual fueling stations presents many challenges. Because hydrogen contains less energy per unit volume than gasoline, transporting, storing, and delivering it to the point of end-use is more expensive. Building a new hydrogen pipeline network involves high initial capital costs, and hydrogen's properties present unique challenges to pipeline materials and compressor design. However, because hydrogen can be produced from a wide variety of resources, regional or even local production of hydrogen can maximize use of local resources and minimize distribution challenges.

There are tradeoffs between centralized and distributed production to consider. Producing hydrogen centrally in large plants cuts production costs but boosts distribution costs. Producing hydrogen at the point of end-use—at fueling stations, for example—cuts distribution costs but boosts production costs because of relatively low production volumes.

Government and industry research and development projects are overcoming the barriers to efficient hydrogen distribution. Learn more about hydrogen distribution from the Fuel Cell Technologies Program.

Source: US Dept of Energy


Honda’s Home Hydrog​en Fueling Station

In conjunction with Honda’s planned limited release of its FCX Clarity hydrogen powered car this year (see Up, up and away – the hydrogen car is here), Honda plans to sell a home hydrogen fueling station, the Home Energy Station IV, which helps stop the chicken and egg syndrome envisioned for hydrogen powered cars.  (Basically, consumers won’t be willing to buy hydrogen powered cars unless they can refuel it, and most companies won’t be willing to build the infrastructure needed to power these cars unless there’s a lot of them on the road). Source


Other pages on this site

Hydrogen economy                        

Hydrogen production                 

Hydrogen powered transport   

Fuel cells                  

Fuel cell aircraft                    

Hydrogen for steelmaking        

Hydrogen storage                 

Hydrogen distribution