China, Japan and South Korea have set ambitious targets to put millions of hydrogen-powered vehicles on their roads by the end of the next decade at a cost of billions of dollars.
But to date, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) have been upstaged by electric vehicles, which are increasingly becoming a mainstream option due to the success of Tesla Inc’s (TSLA.O) luxury cars as well as sales and production quotas set by China.
Critics argue FCVs may never amount to more than a niche technology. But proponents counter hydrogen is the cleanest energy source for autos available and that with time and more refueling infrastructure, it will gain acceptance.
China, far and away the world’s biggest auto market with some 28 million vehicles sold annually, is aiming for more than 1 million FCVs in service by 2030. That compares with just 1,500 or so now, most of which are buses.
Japan, a market of more than 5 million vehicles annually, wants to have 800,000 FCVs sold by that time from around 3,400 currently.
South Korea, which has a car market just one third the size of Japan, has set a target of 850,000 vehicles on the road by 2030. But as of end-2018, fewer than 900 have been sold.
Hydrogen’s proponents point to how clean it is as an energy source as water and heat are the only byproducts and how it can be made from a number of sources, including methane, coal, water, even garbage. Resource-poor Japan sees hydrogen as a way to greater energy security.
They also argue that driving ranges and refueling times for FCVs are comparable to gasoline cars, whereas EVs require hours to recharge and provide only a few hundred kilometers of range.
Many backers in China and Japan see FCVs as complementing EVs rather than replacing them. In general, hydrogen is seen as the more efficient choice for heavier vehicles that drive longer distances, hence the current emphasis on city buses.
THE MAIN PLAYERS
Only a handful of automakers have made fuel cell passenger cars commercially available.
Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) launched the Mirai sedan at the end of 2014, but has sold fewer than 10,000 globally. Hyundai Motor Co (005380.KS) has offered the Nexo crossover since March last year and has sold just under 2,900 worldwide. It had sales of around 900 for its previous FCV model, the Tucson.
Buses are seeing more demand. Both Toyota and Hyundai have offerings and have begun selling fuel cell components to bus makers, particularly in China.
Several Chinese manufacturers have developed their own buses, notably state-owned SAIC Motor (600104.SS), the nation’s biggest automaker, and Geely Auto Group, which also owns the Volvo Cars and Lotus brands.
WHY HAVEN’T FUEL CELL CARS CAUGHT ON YET?
A lack of refueling stations, which are costly to build, is usually cited as the biggest obstacle to widespread adoption of FCVs. At the same time, the main reason cited for the lack of refueling infrastructure is that there are not enough FCVs to make them profitable.
Consumer worries about the risk of explosions are also a big hurdle and residents in Japan and South Korea have protested against the construction of hydrogen stations. This year, a hydrogen tank explosion in South Korea killed two people, which was followed by a blast at a Norway hydrogen station.
Then there’s the cost. Heavy subsidies are needed to bring prices down to levels of gasoline-powered cars. Toyota’s Mirai costs consumers just over 5 million yen ($46,200) after subsidies of 2.25 million yen. That’s still about 50% more than a Camry.
Automakers contend that once sales volumes increase, economies of scale will make subsidies unnecessary.
HOW FUEL CELLS WORK
(GRAPHIC: How fuel cell vehicles work: here)
Reuters: Reporting by Kevin Buckland in Tokyo; Additional reporting by Yilei Sun in Beijing and Hyunjoo Jin in Seoul; Editing by Edwina Gibbs
As renewable sources such as wind and solar are quickly changing the energy landscape, scientists are looking for ways to better store energy for when it’s needed. Fuel cells, which convert chemical energy into electrical power, are one possible solution for long-term energy storage, and could someday be used to power trucks and cars without burning fuel. But before fuel cells can be widely used, chemists and engineers need to find ways to make this technology more cost-effective and stable.
A new study from the lab of Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor Christopher Murray, led by graduate student Jennifer Lee, shows how custom-designed nanomaterials can be used to address these challenges. In ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, researchers show how a fuel cell can be built from cheaper, more widely available metals using an atomic-level design that also gives the material long-term stability. Former post-doc Davit Jishkariani and former students Yingrui Zhao and Stan Najmr, current student Daniel Rosen, and professors James Kikkawa and Eric Stach, also contributed to this work.
The chemical reaction that powers a fuel cell relies on two electrodes, a negative anode and a positive cathode, separated by an electrolyte, a substance that allows the ions to move. When fuel enters the anode, a catalyst separates molecules into protons and electrons, with the latter traveling toward the cathode and creating an electric current.
Catalysts are typically made of precious metals, like platinum, but because the chemical reactions only occur on the surface of the material, any atoms that are not presented on the surface of the material are wasted. It’s also important for catalysts to be stable for months and years because fuel cells are very difficult to replace.
Chemists can address these two problems by designing custom nanomaterials that have platinum at the surface while using more common metals, such as cobalt, in the bulk to provide stability. The Murray group excels at creating well-controlled nanomaterials, known as nanocrystals, in which they can control the size, shape, and composition of any composite nanomaterial.
In this study, Lee focused on the catalyst in the cathode of a specific type of fuel cell known as a proton exchange membrane fuel cell. “The cathode is more of a problem, because the materials are either platinum or platinum-based, which are expensive and have slower reaction rates,” she says. “Designing the catalyst for the cathode is the main focus of designing a good fuel cell.”
The challenge, explains Jishkariani, was in creating a cathode in which platinum and cobalt atoms would form into a stable structure. “We know cobalt and platinum mixes well; however, if you make alloys of these two, you have added atoms of platinum and cobalt in a random order,” he says. Adding more cobalt in a random order causes it to leach out into the electrode, meaning that the fuel cell will only function for a short time.
To solve this problem, researchers designed a catalyst made of layered platinum and cobalt known as an intermetallic phase. By controlling exactly where each atom sat in the catalyst and locking the structure in place, the cathode catalyst was able to work for longer periods than when the atoms were arranged randomly. As an additional unexpected finding, the researchers found that adding more cobalt to the system led to greater efficiency, with a 1-to-1 ratio of platinum to cobalt, better than many other structures with a wide range of platinum-to-cobalt ratios.
The next step will be to test and evaluate the intermetallic material in fuel cell assemblies to make direct comparisons to commercially-available systems. The Murray group will also be working on new ways to create the intermetallic structure without high temperatures and seeing if adding additional atoms improve the catalyst’s performance.
This work required high-resolution microscopic imaging, work that Lee previously did at Brookhaven National Lab but, thanks to recent acquisitions, can now be done at Penn in the Singh Center for Nanotechnology. “Many of the high-end experiments that we would have had to travel to around the country, sometimes around the world, we can now do much closer to home,” says Murray. “The advances that we’ve brought in electron microscopy and X-ray scattering are a fantastic addition for people that work on energy conversion and catalytic studies.”
Lee also experienced first-hand how chemistry research directly connects to real world challenges. She recently presented this work at the International Precious Metals Institute conference and says that meeting members of the precious-metals community was enlightening. “There are companies looking at fuel cell technology and talking about the newest design of the fuel cell cars,” she says. “You get to interact with people that think of your project from different perspectives.”
Murray sees this fundamental research as a starting point towards commercial implementation and real world application, emphasizing that future progress relies on the forward-looking research that’s happening now. “Thinking about a world where we’ve displaced a lot of the traditional fossil fuel-based inputs, if we can figure out this interconversion of electrical and chemical energy, that will address a couple of very important problems simultaneously.”
*** This article appeared in TESLARATI and was re-posted in Fully Charged. We have Followed and Written a LOT about the ‘Coming EV Revolution’, about Advances in Charging Stations and Battery Technology. Most recently we posted an article ‘What If Green Energy Isn’t the Future?’
So maybe … just maybe, ‘Green Energy’ might NOT be able to meet the current Projected Carbon Fuel Replacement Schedule …. However, could the EV/ Hydrogen Fuel Cell Revolution replace forever the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE)? (Hint: We Think So!)
Let Us Know What YOU think! Leave us your thoughts and comments. (below)
Headed by vehicles like the Tesla Model 3, the electric car revolution is showing no signs of stopping. The auto landscape today is very different from what it was years ago. Before, only Tesla and a few automakers were pushing electric cars, and the Model S was proving to the industry that EVs could be objectively better than internal combustion vehicles. Today, practically every automaker has plans to release electric cars. EV startup Bollinger Motors CEO Robert Bollinger summed it up best: “If you want to start a (car company) now, it has to be electric.”
CATALYSTS FOR A TRANSITION
A critical difference between then and now is that veteran automakers today are coming up with decent electric vehicles. No longer were EVs glorified golf carts and compliance cars; today’s electric vehicles are just as attractive, sleek, and powerful than their internal combustion peers. The auto industry has warmed up to electric vehicles as well. The Jaguar I-PACE has been collecting awards left and right since its release, and more recently, the Kia Niro EV was dubbed by Popular Mechanics as the recipient of its Car of the Year award.
A survey by CarGurus earlier this year revealed that 34% of car buyers are open to purchasing an electric car within the next ten years. A survey among young people in the UK last year revealed even more encouraging results, with 50% of respondents stating that they want electric cars. Amidst the disruption being brought about by the Tesla Model 3, which has all but dominated EV sales since production ramped last year, experienced automakers have responded in kind. Volkswagen recently debuted the ID.3, Audi has the e-tron, Hyundai has the Kona EV, and Mercedes-Benz has the EQC. Even Porsche, a low-volume car manufacturer, is attracting the high-end legacy market with the Taycan.
At this point, it appears that Tesla’s mission is going well underway. With the market now open to the idea of electric vehicles, there is an excellent chance that EV adoption will only increase from this point on.
BIG OIL FEELS A CHANGE IN THE WIND
Passenger cars are the No.1 source of demand for oil, and with the potential emergence of a transportation industry whose life and death does not rely on a gas pump, Big Oil could soon find itself on the defensive. Depending on how quickly the auto industry could shift entirely to sustainable transportation and how seriously governments handle issues like climate change, “peak oil” could happen a couple of decades or a few years from now. This could adversely affect investors in the oil industry, who might be at risk of losing their investments if peak oil happens faster than expected. JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade, described this potential scenario in a statement to CNN. “Look at what happened to the coal industry. You have to keep that in the back of your mind and be vigilant. It can turn very, very quickly,” the strategist said.
Paul Sankey of Mizuho Securities previously mentioned that a “Tesla Effect” is starting to be felt in the oil markets. According to the analyst, the Tesla Effect is an increasingly prevalent concept today which states that while the 20th century was driven by oil, the 21st century will be driven by electricity. This, together with the growing movements against climate change today, does not bode well for the oil industry. Adam White, an equity strategist at SunTrust Advisory, stated that investors might not be looking at the oil market with optimism anymore. “A lot of damage has already been done. People are jaded towards the industry,” he said.
An analysis from Barclays points to the world’s reliance on oil peaking somewhere between 2030 and 2035, provided that countries keep to their low-carbon goals. The investment bank also noted that peak oil could happen as early as 2025 if more aggressive climate change initiatives are adopted on a wider scale. This all but makes investments in oil stocks very risky in the 2020s, and this risk gets amplified if electric vehicles become more mainstream. Sverre Alvik of research firm DNV GL described this concern. “By 2030, oil shareholders will feel the impact. Electric vehicles are likely to cause light vehicle oil demand to plunge by nearly 50% by 2040,” Alvik said.
Some of today’s prolific oil producers appear to be making the necessary preparations for peak oil’s inevitable decline. Amidst pressures from shareholders, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, and Total have expanded their operations into solar, wind, and electric charging, seemingly as a means to future-proof themselves. On the flipside, there are also big oil players that are ramping their activities. Earlier this month, financial titan Warren Buffet, who recently expressed his skepticism towards Elon Musk’s plan of introducing an insurance service for Tesla’s electric cars, committed $10 billion to Occidental Petroleum, one of the largest oil and gas exploration companies in the United States.
A POINT OF NO RETURN
The auto industry is now at a point where a real transition towards electrification is happening. Tesla’s efforts over the years, from the original Roadster to the Model 3, have played a huge part in this transition. Tesla, as well as its CEO, Elon Musk, have awakened the public’s eye about the viability of electric cars, while showing the auto industry that there is a demand for good, well-designed EVs. Nevertheless, Tesla still has a long journey ahead of it, as the company ramps its activities in the energy storage sector. If Tesla Energy mobilizes and becomes as disruptive as the company’s electric car division, it would deal yet another blow to the oil industry.
At this point, it is pertinent for veteran automakers that have released their own electric cars to ensure that they do not stop. Legacy car makers had long talked the talk when it came to electric vehicles, but today, it is time to walk the walk. German automaker Volkswagen could be a big player in this transition, as hinted at by the reception of its all-electric car, the ID.3. The ID.3 launch was successful, with Volkswagen getting 10,000 preorders for the vehicle in just 24 hours. The German carmaker should see this as writing on the wall: the demand for EVs is there.
The Volkswagen ID.3 is not as quick or sleek as a Tesla Model 3, nor does it last as long on the road between charges. But considering its price point and its badge, it does not have to be. Volkswagen states that the ID.3 will be priced below 40,000 euros ($45,000) in Germany, which should make it attainable for car buyers in the country. If done right, the ID.3 could be the second coming of the Beetle, ultimately becoming a car that redeems the company from the stigma of the Dieselgate scandal. Thus, it would be a great shame if Volkswagen drops the ball on the ID.3.
Tesla will likely remain a divisive company for years to come; Elon Musk, even more so. Nevertheless, Tesla and what it stands for is slowly becoming an idea, one that connotes hope for something better and cleaner for the future. And if history’s victories and tragedies are any indication, once something becomes an idea, an intangible concept, it becomes impossible to kill.
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Tony Seba, Silicon Valley entrepreneur, Author and Thought Leader, Lecturer at Stanford University, Keynote The reinvention and connection between infrastructure and mobility will fundamentally disrupt the clean transport model.
Nano-Enabled Batteries and Super Capacitors
While EVs have come a long way — even Ford is making electric trucks — they’re still a far cry from perfect. One of the biggest complaints is that the batteries need to be plugged in and recharged, and even when they’re charged, they have a limited range. Fuel cell electric vehicles offer an alternative.
Their “battery” — actually a hydrogen/oxygen fuel cell — can be replenished with hydrogen gas. The biggest problem to-date has been that producing hydrogen isn’t an environmentally friendly process. We would also need the infrastructure to refuel with hydrogen. But, new technology from UMass Lowell could remove those barriers.
Researchers there have created a way to produce hydrogen on demand using water, carbon dioxide and cobalt. Theoretically, that would go directly into a fuel cell, where it would mix with oxygen to generate electricity and water. The electricity would then power the EV’s motor, rechargeable battery and headlights.
According to UMass Lowell, the hydrogen produced is 95 percent pure, and vehicles would not need to be refueled at a filling station. Instead, owners would replace canisters of the cobalt metal which would fuel the hydrogen generator.
Because the technology can produce hydrogen at low temperatures and pressures and because excess isn’t stored in the vehicle, it minimizes the risk of fire or explosion. While this isn’t a practical application yet, it could help make FCEVs a viable option.
In a statement from UMass Lowell’s Chemistry Department Chairman Professor David Ryan below said that vehicles would not be refueled at a fueling station.
The system that we have devised would not require the vehicle to be refueled at a hydrogen filling station.
Our technology would use canisters of the cobalt metal as the fuel to operate the hydrogen generator.
The canisters would be swapped out when expended. It’s really too early to tell, but the goal is typically to be able to travel up to 350 to 400 miles for most vehicles before “refueling.”
A new method of increasing the reactivity of ultrathin nanosheets, just a few atoms thick, can someday make fuel cells for hydrogen cars cheaper, finds a new Johns Hopkins study.
A platinum-like metal only five atomic layers thick is “just right” for optimizing the performance of a fuel cell electrode. Credit: Johns Hopkins University image/Lei Wang
A report of the findings, to be published Feb. 22 in Science, offers promise towards faster, cheaper production of electrical power using fuel cells, but also of bulk chemicals and materials such as hydrogen.
“Every material experiences surface strain due to the breakdown of the material’s crystal symmetry at the atomic level. We discovered a way to make these crystals ultrathin, thereby decreasing the distance between atoms and increasing the material’s reactivity,” says Chao Wang, an assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at The Johns Hopkins University, and one of the study’s corresponding authors.
Strain is, in short, the deformation of any material. For example, when a piece of paper is bent, it is effectively disrupted at the smallest, atomic level; the intricate lattices that hold the paper together are forever changed.
In this study, Wang and colleagues manipulated the strain effect, or distance between atoms, causing the material to change dramatically. By making those lattices incredibly thin, roughly a million times thinner than a strand of human hair, the material becomes much easier to manipulate just like how one piece of paper is easier to bend than a thicker stack of paper.
“We’re essentially using force to tune the properties of thin metal sheets that make up electrocatalysts, which are part of the electrodes of fuel cells,” says Jeffrey Greeley, professor of chemical engineering at Purdue and another one of the paper’s corresponding authors. “The ultimate goal is to test this method on a variety of metals.”
“By tuning the materials‘ thinness, we were able to create more strain, which changes the material’s properties, including how molecules are held together. This means you have more freedom to accelerate the reaction you want on the material’s surface,” explains Wang.
One example of how optimizing reactions can be useful in application is increasing the activity of catalysts used for fuel cell cars. While fuel cells represent a promising technology toward emission-free electrical vehicles, the challenge lies in the expense associated with the precious metal catalysts such as platinum and palladium, limiting its viability to the vast majority of consumers. A more active catalyst for the fuel cells can reduce cost and clear the way for widespread adoption of green, renewable energy.
Wang and colleagues estimate that their new method can increase catalyst activity by 10 to 20 times, using 90 percent less of precious metals than what is currently required to power a fuel cell.
“We hope that our findings can someday aid in the production of cheaper, more efficient fuel cells to make environmentally-friendly cars more accessible for everybody,” says Wang.
More information: L. Wang el al., “Tunable intrinsic strain in two-dimensional transition metal electrocatalysts,” Science (2019). science.sciencemag.org/cgi/doi … 1126/science.aat8051
Scientists have used a Nobel-prize winning chemistry technique on a mixture of metals to potentially reduce the cost of fuel cells used in electric cars and reduce harmful emissions from conventional vehicles.
The researchers have translated a biological technique, which won the 2017 Nobel Chemistry Prize, to reveal atomic scale chemistry in metal nanoparticles. These materials are one of the most effective catalysts for energy converting systems such as fuel cells. It is the first time this technique has been for this kind of research.
The particles have a complex star-shaped geometry and this new work shows that the edges and corners can have different chemistries which can now be tuned to reduce the cost of batteries and catalytic convertors.
The 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Joachim Frank, Richard Henderson and Jacques Dubochet for their role in pioneering the technique of single particle reconstruction. This electron microscopy technique has revealed the structures of a huge number of viruses and proteins but is not usually used for metals.
Now, a team at the University of Manchester, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Oxford and Macquarie University, have built upon the Nobel Prize winning technique to produce three dimensional elemental maps of metallic nanoparticles consisting of just a few thousand atoms.
Published in the journal Nano Letters, their research demonstrates that it is possible to map different elements at the nanometre scale in three dimensions, circumventing damage to the particles being studied.
Metal nanoparticles are the primary component in many catalysts, such as those used to convert toxic gases in car exhausts. Their effectiveness is highly dependent on their structure and chemistry, but because of their incredibly small structure, electron microscopes are required in order to provide image them. However, most imaging is limited to 2-D projections.
“We have been investigating the use of tomography in the electron microscope to map elemental distributions in three dimensions for some time,” said Professor Sarah Haigh, from the School of Materials, University of Manchester. “We usually rotate the particle and take images from all directions, like a CT scan in a hospital, but these particles were damaging too quickly to enable a 3-D image to be built up. Biologists use a different approach for 3-D imaging and we decided to explore whether this could be used together with spectroscopic techniques to map the different elements inside the nanoparticles.”
“Like ‘single particle reconstruction’ the technique works by imaging many particles and assuming that they are all identical in structure, but arranged at different orientations relative to the electron beam. The images are then fed in to a computer algorithm which outputs a three dimensional reconstruction.”
In the present study the new 3-D chemical imaging method has been used to investigate platinum-nickel (Pt-Ni) metal nanoparticles.
Lead author, Yi-Chi Wang, also from the School of Materials, added: “Platinum based nanoparticles are one of the most effective and widely used catalytic materials in applications such as fuel cells and batteries. Our new insights about the 3-D local chemical distribution could help researchers to design better catalysts that are low-cost and high-efficiency.”
“We are aiming to automate our 3-D chemical reconstruction workflow in the future”, added author Dr. Thomas Slater.”We hope it can provide a fast and reliable method of imaging nanoparticle populations which is urgently needed to speed up optimisation of nanoparticle synthesis for wide ranging applications including biomedical sensing, light emitting diodes, and solar cells.”
More information: Yi-Chi Wang et al. Imaging Three-Dimensional Elemental Inhomogeneity in Pt–Ni Nanoparticles Using Spectroscopic Single Particle Reconstruction, Nano Letters (2019). DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.8b03768
This is a schematic illustration of Hybrid Na-CO2 System and its reaction mechanism. UNIST
Scientists from the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) developed a system which can continuously produce electrical energy and hydrogen by dissolving carbon dioxide in an aqueous solution.
The inspiration came from the fact that much of the carbon dioxide produced by humans is absorbed by the oceans, where it raises the level of acidity in the water.
Researchers used this concept to “melt” carbon dioxide in water in order to induce an electrochemical reaction. When acidity rises, the number of protons increases, and these protons attract electrons at a high rate. This can be used to create a battery system where electricity is produced by removing carbon dioxide.
The elements of the battery system are similar to a fuel cell, and include a cathode (sodium metal), a separator (NASICON), and an anode (catalyst). In this case, the catalysts are contained in the water and are connected to the cathode through a lead wire. The reaction begins when carbon dioxide is injected into the water and begins to break down into electricity and hydrogen. Not only is the electricity generated obviously useful, but the produced hydrogen could be used to fuel vehicles as well. The current efficiency of the system is up to 50 percent of the carbon dioxide being converted, which is impressive, although the system only operates on a small scale.
“Carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration (CCUS) technologies have recently received a great deal of attention for providing a pathway in dealing with global climate change,” Professor Guntae Kim of the School of Energy and Chemical Engineering at UNIST said in a statement. “The key to that technology is the easy conversion of chemically stable CO2 molecules to other materials. Our new system has solved this problem with [the] CO2 dissolution mechanism.”
Pumping hydrogen for fuel cell-powered EVs is a bit trickier than plugging into an electric recharging station.
The pressure in HFEV tanks can get up into the 10,000 psi range, so hoses, fittings, gauges, and other fuel station gear all has to perform well under such pressure.
Even so, the optimal speed for pumping hydrogen for an HFEV at a station is not yet well defined at the moment, given the need for continuing station tank resupply, and for the fresh generation of hydrogen used to fill the tanks.
To help determine the optimal operational flow and requirements for HFEV stations, the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory, in Golden, CO, in a partnership with Mercedes-Benz and General Motors, is testing hydrogen filling at the lab’s Hydrogen Infrastructure Testing and Research Facility (HITRF), according to a facility spokesperson.
“It’s a cradle to grave investigation,” said the NREL guide who recently led a tour of the facility where new carbon fiber-reinforced tanks were on display.
The HITRF integrates commercial and test equipment in a system to mimic a hydrogen station, and it is the only facility in the national lab complex capable of fueling to the SAE J2601 standard — a fast-fueling protocol that dispenses 70 megapascals (MPa) of hydrogen at -40°C to the vehicle with a 3–5 minute fueling time, NREL’s program description says. A megapascal is about 145 psi. The SAE standard is “Fueling Protocols for Light Duty Gaseous Hydrogen Surface Vehicles.”
NREL and its partners are experimenting at the HITRF to help reduce the cost and installation time for a new hydrogen fueling station, to improve the stations’ availability and reliability, and to ensure the success of future hydrogen infrastructure deployment. One accident would attract far too much press attention.
The HITRF, with 340 kg of hydrogen storage on site, is the first facility of its kind in Colorado and serves as a proving ground for current generation component, system, and control testing, as well as perform testing for next-generation technology and controls.
NREL is also tapping federal funding for the HITRF, and helping US Department of Energy to test the hydrogen station equipment performance, or HySTEP devices as part of the US Department of Energy’s H2FIRST project.
The cost of each commercial hydrogen filling station could be high. One indicator of cost is that the Japanese government has invested $378 million to develop hydrogen infrastructure, of which about $1 million will be spent on each hydrogen station, according to a recent market analysis by Frost & Sullivan. “The cost of implementing a variable hydrogen pressure nozzle fuel station for storage and generation…has been the primary choking point in infrastructure expansion,” they say.
Other companies and entities involved in HFEV station development partnerships include the Hydrogen Energy Association, Seven-Eleven Japan Co. Ltd, HyFIVE, Linde, the California Fuel Cell Partnership, Ballard, and UK H2 Mobility, the analysts say.
The market for HFEVs, or fuel cell EVs, as they refer to them, is bright according to the analysts, who say about two million fuel cell vehicles are expected to be on the roads globally by 2030.
“The global market for FCEVs is estimated to reach about 583,360 units (per year) by 2030, with Asia Pacific (APAC) countries such as Japan and South Korea dominating the market with 218,651 and 80,440 units, respectively. FCEV markets in Europe and North America are projected to reach 117,000 units and 118,847 units, respectively, by 2030,” they say.
DOE targets having about 500,000 fuel cell cars on the road by 2030, Frost & Sullivan says.
Apart from its support of HFEV station development, DOE is supporting research that is working to reduce the price of an 80 kW fuel cell stack system to as little as $30. Along with reductions in the price of fuel cell stacks, efforts are also ongoing to lower the cost of hydrogen production to less than $2/kg, using the proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolysis method, the analysts point out.
Over the next decade, an estimated $10 billion will be invested globally in developing hydrogen technology and infrastructure by a group of private investor companies in conjunction with Toyota, Daimler and BMW, Frost & Sullivan reckon.
The Californian government has approved an expenditure of $20 million annually on hydrogen station deployments with private companies, which had already invested over $20 million at the end of 2017, the analysts say.