The Hydrogen Stream: Hydrogen-powered heavy-lift unmanned aerial vehicle from Korea


South Korean aerospace manufacturer and defense company LIG Nex1 presented its new heavy-lift unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) concept at the 2021 Seoul International Aerospace & Defense Exhibition (ADEX), while Universal Hydrogen has secured an additional $62 million in financing to accelerate the first test flight of a hydrogen-powered regional aircraft in 2022. “The green hydrogen for the flight will be supplied using Universal Hydrogen’s modular fuel capsules that enable the delivery of hydrogen from the point of production directly to the aircraft using the existing freight network and airport cargo handling equipment — without the need for any new infrastructure,” the company said in a statement. “The proprietary modular capsule technology is significantly lighter than the current state of the art in hydrogen storage and is designed from first principles for flight and ground transport safety certification.” This week, AP also reported that “Toyota is testing hydrogen combustion engines in race cars as it works toward using the technology in commercial products.” British-American hydrogen-electric aircraft developer ZeroAvia on Wednesday announced it is developing a commercial 19-seat aircraft that is expected to fly between Rotterdam The Hague Airport (RTHA) and London in 2024. ZeroAvia is collaborating on the project with Royal Schiphol Group and Rotterdam The Hague Innovation Airport.

A group of 10 researchers has demonstrated a hydrogen (H2) refueling solution capable of delivering pre-cooled, compressed gaseous hydrogen for heavy-duty vehicle (HDV) refueling applications by refueling transit buses over three months under real-world conditions. “The system uses a submerged pump to deliver pressurized liquid H2 from a cryogenic storage tank to a dispensing control loop that vaporizes the liquid and adjusts the pressure and temperature of the resulting gas to enable refueling at 35 MPa and temperatures as low as −40° C, consistent with the SAE J2601 standard,” reads the abstract of the paper, “Liquid pump-enabled hydrogen refueling system for heavy duty fuel cell vehicles: Fuel cell bus refueling demonstration at Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (SARTA)”. The paper will be published on November 11 in the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy. The researchers used 13 vehicles, completing 118 individual bus fillings. “In our final test, the system successfully completed an endurance test using a single dispenser involving 52 consecutive individual fills over an 11.5-h period, dispensing 1,322 kg of H2 with an average fill rate of 3.4 kg/min and peak rate of 7.1 kg/min, and reaching an average SOC of 97.6% across all fills.”

UK research firm Wood Mackenzie reports that Northeast Asia and Europe are expected to become the main hydrogen importers, accounting for 55% of seaborne hydrogen trade, whereas Australia, the Middle East and, possibly, Russia and the U.S. have the greatest export potential. As a result, hydrogen demand could rise by six-fold to 530 Mt in 2050. “Several countries are hoping to benefit from developing export-oriented hydrogen megaprojects, with blue and green hydrogen projects being developed in Russia, Canada, Australia, and the Middle East. In the burgeoning green hydrogen space, nearly 60% of proposed export projects are located in the Middle East and Australia, principally targeting markets in Europe and Northeast Asia. Over the last 12 months, there has been a 50-fold increase in announced green hydrogen projects alone,” reads the analysis. The consultancy said that experience in exporting natural resources, suitable conditions for low-cost renewable electricity, and the potential for large-scale carbon capture are the three key factors for green hydrogen, adding that Brazil, Chile and Kazakhstan are joining the hydrogen race. Russia and Canada have significant potentials in terms of blue hydrogen, it added. “While no two hydrogen export projects look the same, the most obvious difference in proposed projects is between blue and green hydrogen. But portraying this as an either-or choice is an over-simplification,” Vice Chairman Gavin Thompson said, explaining that exporters will focus on a variable mix of the two. The costs of green hydrogen production, “typically more than three times higher than those of blue hydrogen”, are expected to fall, but “cost declines will not be uniform”. The consultancy did not elaborate on CCUS costs in the analysis. In general, Wood Mackenzie sees Australia in a leading position. “Australia, in particular, stands out from the crowd in its track record of exporting a diverse set of natural resources and minerals, sheer physical scale, solar and wind resources and substantial potential for large-scale CCS,” commented Wood Mackenzie research director Prakash Sharma.

U.S. hydrogen solutions company Plug Power and French renewable hydrogen startup Lhyfe signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to jointly develop green hydrogen generation plants throughout Europe. “The initiative seeks to generate a total hydrogen capacity of 300 MW by 2025, and to start the development of a 1 GW production site,” the companies announced Wednesday. “In North America, we’ve already built a robust ‘hydrogen highway,’ which includes 165 hydrogen fueling stations and stationary power for businesses and institutions, a success we plan to replicate in Europe,” commented Plug Power CEO Andy Marsh. The companies are already working on a 1 MW hydrogen production facility off the coast of Le Croisic, calling it the world’s first offshore hydrogen production facility. Lhyfe has subsidiaries in Germany, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and Spain.

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Denmark's Green Hydrogen Systems has as part of a consortium signed a €30 million grant agreement with the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA). The goal of the project is to demonstrate 100 MW of green electrolysis production at the GreenLab industrial park in Skive, Denmark, that can be replicated in the rest of the world, the company said, adding that the electrolyzer module will be demonstrated by the end of 2022. Green Hydrogen Systems has been granted €9 million to develop the test 6 MW module, which is subject to later qualification for a 100MW solution, the company added. Danish green hydrogen infrastructure company Everfuel will oversee the task of scaling the project commercially. French group Lhyfe will supply the control system for the 100 MW plant. Throughout the GreenHyScale project, a 7.5 MW high-pressure electrolyzer for offshore application will be developed. The facility is set to begin operation at the end of 2025.

Meanwhile, ahead of COP26, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) reports that several institutions have thrown their weight behind hydrogen, mostly to send clear signals to the private sector, and create collaboration forums. “Over 50 member countries convened today in a Collaborative Framework on Green Hydrogen co-facilitated by Morocco and the European Commission,” wrote IRENA last week, adding that the new Enabling Measures Roadmap for Green Hydrogen will serve as a vehicle to further enhance public-private dialogue. Also last week, the Energy Community Secretariat joined the new Ready for Hydrogen (Ready4H2) initiative powered by distribution system operators (DSOs) from 13 European countries. The Energy Community is a Vienna-based organization aiming to extend the EU internal energy market to southeastern Europe and beyond.

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