These days, hydrogen has become a focal point of discussion in Germany and at the highest echelons of the European Union. Gradually, the energy carrier is getting the attention it deserves. At last, despite the roadblocks, a breakthrough is imminent.
A mass market for fuel cell trucks by 2025
Hyzon Motors attracted a great deal of coverage when it announced its intention to build 1,000 fuel cell buses, a move that could revolutionize the transportation industry (see H2-international, August 2020). But the start-up business is also eager to see both heavy-duty and pickup trucks run on hydrogen. To promote its fuel cell vehicles, it recently published several images depicting futuristic truck designs (see fig. 1).
Electric trash trucks in high demand
Trash trucks are a bit of a standout among specialized vehicles, since they require energy for both powertrains and hydraulic systems. Fuel cells have long been known to be a very good fit for these trucks, allowing efficient, low-noise operation in residential areas. In 2011, Faun Umwelttechnik delivered a trash truck outfitted with a fuel cell-powered loader to Berlin‘s waste management company BSR (see HZwei, October 2011). This August, the company announced that after putting a second prototype to the test, it was now ready to bring the vehicle to market.
A comfortable (yet still exciting) ride
So far, Hyundai has shipped a total of 10,000 Nexo cars. Since launching a fuel cell model in March 2018, the South Korean automaker has delivered more FCEVs than any other vehicle manufacturer in the world. This July alone, an additional 700 Nexo vehicles went to customers in South Korea and 89 were exported to countries around the world. H2-international was given the opportunity to test a Nexo car this summer. The conclusion: If it had a lower price tag and there was a fueling station nearby, the Nexo would be the perfect ride.
VDMA study analyzes fuel cell vehicle market
Starting in 2030, fuel cells will be making significant inroads in the passenger car, commercial vehicle and heavy equipment markets. Their importance, as well as the required hydrogen infrastructure, will grow steadily in the coming years, mainly thanks to heavy-duty applications. By 2040, the technology will power 12 percent of all vehicles sold in those markets, creating 68,000 new jobs in Europe in the process. These are the key takeaways from “Engine of change – Fuel cells’ impact on the machinery and industrial equipment industry and its suppliers,” a study conducted by FEV Consulting for Germany’s national engineering federation VDMA. Unlike battery-electric motors, fuel cells have quite a lot in common with internal combustion engines when it comes to production and supply chains, a boon to traditional automakers and machinery manufacturers.
Interview with energy expert Peter Röttgen
Peter Röttgen, a PhD geologist, was once the head of the E.ON Energy Storage Innovation Center in Düsseldorf. He then became president of the Brussels-based European Association for Storage of Energy and remained in that role for many years. From August 2017 to early 2019, he led German renewable energy federation BEE before he left to work at Finnish energy supplier Fortum’s German office as vice president of public affairs. In March, Fortum became Uniper’s majority shareholder.
New ways to achieve comparable and reproducible findings
Vehicle fuel cells contain many non-metals, particularly polymers, for several different purposes. While seals are made from elastomers, Type IV containers are lined with thermoplastics, the same materials that are now also increasingly used to make hardware parts, such as gaskets. The standards and guidelines relevant to the industry require a series of tests to ensure that the chosen polymers are suitable for a given application.
Are iridium and platinum critical materials?
Hydrogen will have a crucial role to play in transforming the energy market. The first element of the periodic table has great potential to decarbonize much of the steel, cement and chemical industries as well as aviation, heavy-duty road haulage and maritime transportation. As a result, politicians across the EU are mapping out plans to support electrolyzer capacity increases and hydrogen production methods.
New class on hydrogen at German secondary school
From where will we get our electricity in the future? What will we use to power our cars and trains? How can we live sustainably, without the use of fossil fuels? Finding answers to these and other questions is the aim of an Erasmus+ project involving students and teachers at Heriburg-Gymnasium, a German secondary school in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, as well as British, Greek and Spanish partner organizations. The project is led by Ariema Energía y Medioambiente, a spin-off from Spain’s National Institute for Aerospace Technology. British partner Cyber Coach Smart is developing a digital learning game.
Germany‘s northeast is finally buzzing with activity. For a long time, Mecklenburg-West Pomerania’s hydrogen community had rarely made the news. However, that was before the state’s economy ministry announced at the hydrogen sector meeting in Güstrow on Aug. 21 that it plans to build a hydrogen research center. Stefan Rudolph, who works at the economy ministry, said that Mecklenburg-West Pomerania will receive around EUR 50 million for shutting down the coal power station in Rostock because of Germany‘s exit from coal-fired energy production.