Author Topic: Blue Origin’s Hydrogen Source (eg for New Shepard)?  (Read 8281 times)

Offline Robotbeat

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What is the source of hydrogen for New Shepard? Who makes the hydrogen, how do they make it (steam reforming? Electrolysis?) or is it made on-site?

I assume they probably get it trucked in from somewhere, but where and by who? Anyone see any liquid hydrogen tanker trucks in West Texas?
« Last Edit: 06/18/2022 01:34 pm by Robotbeat »
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Offline TrevorMonty

What is the source of hydrogen for New Shepard? Who makes the hydrogen, how do they make it (steam reforming? Electrolysis?) or is it made on-site?

I assume they probably get it trucked in from somewhere, but where and by who? Anyone see any liquid hydrogen tanker trucks in West Texas?
Most likely from Methane with steam reforming as its cheapest with CO2 byproduct  released into atmosphere. If Blue had greener source of hydrogen their PR team would make it known.
« Last Edit: 06/23/2022 11:35 pm by zubenelgenubi »

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Blue Originís Hydrogen Source (eg for New Shepard)?
« Reply #2 on: 06/18/2022 09:17 pm »
What is the source of hydrogen for New Shepard? Who makes the hydrogen, how do they make it (steam reforming? Electrolysis?) or is it made on-site?

I assume they probably get it trucked in from somewhere, but where and by who? Anyone see any liquid hydrogen tanker trucks in West Texas?
Most likely from Methane with steam reforming as its cheapest with CO2 byproduct  released into atmosphere. If Blue had greener source of hydrogen their PR team would make it known.

but fuel cost for something like this is still negligible and I still want to know what company they actually get it from
« Last Edit: 06/23/2022 11:35 pm by zubenelgenubi »
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Blue Originís Hydrogen Source (eg for New Shepard)?
« Reply #3 on: 06/18/2022 09:24 pm »
New Shepard has a thrust of about 490kN. Assuming it lifts off with a T/W of 1.5 and has a wet to dry mass ratio of 4:1Ö that means it has about 25t of propellant. Assuming a 6:1 O:F mix ratio, thatís 3.6t of hydrogen or about 600kg per person. $6/kg is about what green hydrogen goes for (without economies of scale), so about $3,600 for fuel per person. Considering the ticket price is about $1.25M apiece, thatísÖ 0.3% of the cost. Trivial. Steam reforming wouldnít reduce the cost in any significant way.

(Although note that grey hydrogen has increased in cost since this graph.)
« Last Edit: 06/18/2022 10:34 pm by Robotbeat »
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Offline SpeakertoAnimals

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Re: Blue Originís Hydrogen Source (eg for New Shepard)?
« Reply #4 on: 06/18/2022 09:46 pm »
Yo. You can buy materials/parts to make a hydrogen generator on Amazon!
Dude, I can buy them from a dollar store. Don't remember prices, though.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Blue Originís Hydrogen Source (eg for New Shepard)?
« Reply #5 on: 06/18/2022 10:14 pm »
So what is their hydrogen source? Does anyone know??!
I checked their EIS, but itís from 2006 and mentions just hydrogen peroxide and kerosene as propellants for the New Shepard vehicle at that time.
« Last Edit: 06/18/2022 10:43 pm by Robotbeat »
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Blue Originís Hydrogen Source (eg for New Shepard)?
« Reply #6 on: 06/19/2022 01:13 am »
Van Horn is about 840-900 miles from hydrogen car fill up stations in California, which often use liquid hydrogen for delivery. The capacity of a semi trailer of liquid hydrogen is about 5000kg, enough for a New Shepard launch which probably uses less than 4000kg (not counting venting and boiloffÖ They could just truck it in from California, and then you could even just get green hydrogen.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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Offline TrevorMonty

Yo. You can buy materials/parts to make a hydrogen generator on Amazon!
Dude, I can buy them from a dollar store. Don't remember prices, though.
Plenty of solar energy on site to make if from. If they are serious about increasing launch rate, investing in this infrastructure would be worthwhile especially for good PR. They've had enough bad press about rich people spending their money on 6 minute flight to space.
« Last Edit: 06/23/2022 11:31 pm by zubenelgenubi »

Offline ninjaneer

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Re: Blue Originís Hydrogen Source (eg for New Shepard)?
« Reply #8 on: 06/19/2022 08:02 pm »
Here's a reasonably recent map collection of current and future US hydrogen production facilities.  The one in Amarillo is Pantex and probably not for commercial sale, Air Liquide just opened one in N Las Vegas, and Albuquerque is trying to go all in for both aerospace and power production but not quite there yet.  The 2040 dot near Van Horn lines up with DOT's hydrogen car plans for regional production.

https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy19osti/71566.pdf

Offline DanClemmensen

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Re: Blue Originís Hydrogen Source (eg for New Shepard)?
« Reply #9 on: 06/19/2022 08:07 pm »
Yo. You can buy materials/parts to make a hydrogen generator on Amazon!
Dude, I can buy them from a dollar store. Don't remember prices, though.
Plenty of solar energy on site to make if from. If they are serious about increasing launch rate, investing in this infrastructure would be worthwhile especially for good PR. They've had enough bad press about rich people spending their money on 6 minute flight to space.

They launch from west Texas. Texas is having problems generating enough electricity, which some folks blame on ERCOT's strange pricing structure. The upshot is you can make a whole bunch of money selling electricity during high demand and you can buy electricity cheap during low demand. A large solar farm  could be used to make hydrogen with excess capacity and sell electricity when the price is high.  West Texas is also one of the best locations in the country for wind power. Same deal. This means they don't even need to produce their own electricity to legitimately claim to be using renewable energy.

However, Until quite recently west Texas also produced natural gas as a side effect of fracking for oil and did not have enough natural gas pipeline capacity to carry it away. The oil industry is cyclical, so predicting the price of natural gas is a guessing game, but at times in West Texas the price was negative: producers paid to have the gas taken away. This clearly affects the economics for a local consumer of the gas.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Blue Originís Hydrogen Source (eg for New Shepard)?
« Reply #10 on: 06/21/2022 03:30 am »
Here's a reasonably recent map collection of current and future US hydrogen production facilities.  The one in Amarillo is Pantex and probably not for commercial sale, Air Liquide just opened one in N Las Vegas, and Albuquerque is trying to go all in for both aerospace and power production but not quite there yet.  The 2040 dot near Van Horn lines up with DOT's hydrogen car plans for regional production.

https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy19osti/71566.pdf
But what about LIQUID hydrogen production capacity? Liquefaction is a non-trivial process with hydrogen! Itís the second coldest fluid, next to helium, and it also needs catalyzed ortho-hydrogen to para-hydrogen conversion. Heck, to liquefy hydrogen typically takes 10-13kWh (36 to 47MJ) per kilogram, which is a substantial portion of even the High Heating Value energy content of hydrogen (142MJ/kg).
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Offline kevinof

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Re: Blue Origin’s Hydrogen Source (eg for New Shepard)?
« Reply #11 on: 06/21/2022 04:20 am »
So around 97% of hydrogen production comes from steam forming , so my guess is that thereís a 97% chance the hydrogen Blue is using also comes from steam forming!



Or in other words, until they say different Iím going to assume itís not solar driven (and not green).

Offline ninjaneer

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Re: Blue Originís Hydrogen Source (eg for New Shepard)?
« Reply #12 on: 06/21/2022 05:21 am »
But what about LIQUID hydrogen production capacity?

The AL Vegas facility is apparently doing 30 tons/day of liquid using biogas steam reforming.  Biogas earns them the coveted green label under California's requirements.

pr link
https://apnews.com/press-release/business-wire/politics-technology-health-las-vegas-0761ba4a639e4dc99631409da3b9d362

trade mag article
https://www.energytech.com/renewables/article/21242777/air-liquide-opens-massive-liquid-h2-production-plant-in-nevada

Linde's (Praxair? Messer? Air Products? Who owns whom anymore?) new facility in La Porte, TX, also does 30 tons/day.  They're just a liquifier on the H2 pipeline.

https://www.linde.com/news-media/press-releases/2021/linde-starts-up-new-liquid-hydrogen-plant-in-texas

I'm not sure about the capacity of AL/Airgas' liquifier facility in New Orleans or anything else in a reasonable radius.

Offline spacenut

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Re: Blue Originís Hydrogen Source (eg for New Shepard)?
« Reply #13 on: 06/21/2022 12:52 pm »
I noticed the map of so called hydrogen pipelines are actually natural gas (methane) pipelines.  Hydrogen can be piped through natural gas pipelines using a rubber pig to separate the two.  Natural gas-pig-hydrogen gas-pig-natural gas and so forth.  Most hydrogen today is made from methane.  Methane has 4 hydrogens to one carbon vs water with 2 hydrogens to one oxygen.  So it is easier and cheaper today to make hydrogen from methane. 

As I have said before hydrogen can be transported via the natural gas pipeline system.  Most natural gas leaks are from the well head collection mains before it enters the transportation pipelines which are checked for leaks monthly.  Since the collection lines are not serving anyone yet, they are not regulated and sometimes are put together sloppy.  Transmission and distribution pipelines are checked regularly for leaks.  Not only are they government mandated, but the transmission and distribution companies loose money if they loose gas. 

Also natural gas appliances can be converted to use hydrogen, but it would have to be phased into replacement, can't be done overnight.  Various gas appliances have a lifetime from 10-25 years.  So all new appliances could be made to burn either, and as new construction and replacment appliances are phased in, then hydrogen can be phased in to replace natural gas.  The infrastructure is already in place.  One major problem is old cast iron mains will have to be replaced with newer welded coated steel pipe for high pressures and plastic pipe for medium pressure.  My company replaced all the cast iron in my district when I was working over a 40 year period.  Lost gas due to leaks on cast iron mains went from about 10% to less than 1% which was mostly due to 3rd party damages or lightning after replacement.  Other companies and city owned utilities are slow to change, but it may be mandated in the near future. 

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Blue Originís Hydrogen Source (eg for New Shepard)?
« Reply #14 on: 06/21/2022 08:30 pm »
Didnít know about using a rubber pig (tube inside the bigger tube?) could allow hydrogen to be easily transported inside natural gas lines, but that makes total sense and seems obvious in hindsight. Natural gas can handle up to about 2% hydrogen and remain within spec, so that would make it tolerant of some modest amount of leakage.

Makes sense that theyíd just add a liquefier on a hydrogen line.

Sounds like there are closer liquid hydrogen sources, in Nevada and Texas, than California.
« Last Edit: 06/21/2022 08:31 pm by Robotbeat »
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Offline DanClemmensen

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Re: Blue Originís Hydrogen Source (eg for New Shepard)?
« Reply #15 on: 06/21/2022 09:57 pm »
Didnít know about using a rubber pig (tube inside the bigger tube?) could allow hydrogen to be easily transported inside natural gas lines, but that makes total sense and seems obvious in hindsight. Natural gas can handle up to about 2% hydrogen and remain within spec, so that would make it tolerant of some modest amount of leakage.

Makes sense that theyíd just add a liquefier on a hydrogen line.

Sounds like there are closer liquid hydrogen sources, in Nevada and Texas, than California.
See:
   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pigging
The pig acts as a separator between different products and is pushed along the pipeline by the pumped flow of the product. It's just shy of the diameter of the pipe interior and about three times as long. According to Wikipedia they have multiple uses, although I did not know that. Apocryphally, they are called "pigs" because they make a grunting noise as they interact with the pipe, but I have no personal knowledge of this.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Blue Originís Hydrogen Source (eg for New Shepard)?
« Reply #16 on: 06/29/2022 11:26 pm »
Did we ever figure this out? Surely someone has snapped photos of the LH2 trucks bringing fuel to the New Shepard site.
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Offline CameronD

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Re: Blue Originís Hydrogen Source (eg for New Shepard)?
« Reply #17 on: 08/11/2022 12:23 am »
See:   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pigging
The pig acts as a separator between different products and is pushed along the pipeline by the pumped flow of the product. It's just shy of the diameter of the pipe interior and about three times as long. According to Wikipedia they have multiple uses, although I did not know that. Apocryphally, they are called "pigs" because they make a grunting noise as they interact with the pipe, but I have no personal knowledge of this.

FWIW, "intelligent pigs", containing ridiculous amounts of scanning and robotics tech and costing ridiculous amounts of money, are used to check the condition of the pipelines themselves.  These ones don't grunt.  ;)
 
« Last Edit: 08/11/2022 12:27 am by CameronD »
With sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine - however, this is not necessarily a good idea. It is hard to be sure where they are
going to land, and it could be dangerous sitting under them as they fly overhead.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Blue Originís Hydrogen Source (eg for New Shepard)?
« Reply #18 on: 09/06/2022 06:39 pm »
Is there any hint about this? Iím very curious.
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Offline DanClemmensen

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Re: Blue Originís Hydrogen Source (eg for New Shepard)?
« Reply #19 on: 09/06/2022 07:21 pm »
Is there any hint about this? Iím very curious.
I have no idea, but NS launches from "launch site one" in west Texas. West Texas has both excess natural gas from fracked oil wells that producers pay to have taken away, and excess electricity from wind that producers pay to have consumed, both on an intermittent basis. Thus, it is in theory possible to produce "free" hydrogen from either source. I strongly suspect that in reality, they just buy from an ordinary supplier.

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