As part of a broader effort to coordinate clean-energy research across the Pacific Ocean, Sandia National Laboratories is hosting a meeting with the Japan National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) on December 13, 2013. Attendees from AIST and the U.S. national labs will be joined by representatives from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Japan Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry.

“This meeting will underscore progress in the existing partnerships between U.S. national labs and AIST and explore new areas for potential coordination and collaboration,” says Daniel Dedrick, Sandia’s Hydrogen and Combustion Technologies Manager and the meeting organizer. Topics to be covered include renewables integration, geothermal systems, solar photovoltaic systems, and hydrogen and fuel cells.

Further, the meeting will highlight a multiple-year AIST-Sandia project as an example of a successful energy research collaboration between Japan and the United States. Focused on increasing understanding of how steel reacts to the harsh environment of high-pressure hydrogen, this project is helping create a foundation for durable and cost-effective hydrogen pressure systems, which are key to U.S. and Japanese strategies for deploying commercial fuel cell electric vehicles and the supporting infrastructure.

Specifically, the project team has been conducting fracture tests on ferritic steels in high-pressure gaseous hydrogen and performing scanning probe microscopy of deformation and fracture in austenitic stainless steels. Through coordinated testing and methodology sharing, the collaboration has illuminated scientific findings that would not have been discovered in isolation.

For example, project data have shown that subtle differences in test methodology can have significant implications on a material’s perceived performance—work that can inform/improve standardized test methods developed to characterize materials for hydrogen service. Results are already being provided to industry stakeholders: the team presented a paper at the American Society for Mechanical Engineers (ASME) conference last July, and two more papers are being prepared for the next ASME Pressure Vessels & Piping conference in July 2014.

The AIST-Sandia partnership exemplifies leveraging international capabilities to advance key DOE hydrogen and fuel cell program goals. For example, in addition to identifying characteristics of effective materials for hydrogen service, this project will influence harmonizing international codes and standards for hydrogen, as well as advance the build-out of hydrogen infrastructure by impacting hydrogen system cost, reliability, and safety. Further, by building a strong relationship with AIST that has included regular working meetings at the CRF and in Japan, the project helps to seed other key relationships with Japanese industrial and academic partners.

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