The Hydrogen Stream: New fuel cell electric vehicle from Canada


Vancouver-based zero-emission vehicle company First Hydrogen says it will start testing its first demonstrator fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) in June. The Canadian business is working with compatriot fuel cell manufacturer Ballard Power Systems and with Austrian-owed automotive company AVL Powertrain UK. “We are substantially on track to showcase our road-going vehicles with customers in September 2022, as originally planned,” said Steve Gill, chief executive for automotive at First Hydrogen, last week. “Our joint development of this hydrogen fuel cell vehicle will set us apart as a market leader for fuel cell vehicles in the light-commercial space.”

Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE says it has developed a “universally applicable test stand” for kinetic investigations to analyze catalytic fixed-bed reactions under dynamic operating conditions. The compact system, called Kiss, can be used for technology demonstration in remote regions. “Compared to traditional kinetic reactors, Kiss is unique in terms of the speed of the measurement campaigns as well as the perfect control of the reactor temperature, even when the synthesis process generates a lot of heat,” said Ouda Salem, head of group for power-to-liquids at Fraunhofer ISE, yesterday. “We need to look closer in the reactor at relevant scale to develop the suitable technological solutions for PtX [power-to-X] new-boundary conditions.” A fiber-optic measurement system and a multi-position-valve sampling set-up, in conjunction with a dynamic Fourier transform infrared spectrometer (FTIR), are used to measure concentration profiles and monitor axial temperature profile. The researchers say the new tool is based on a profile reactor that enables the dynamic measurement of concentration and temperature profiles. “By coupling axial sampling points with dynamic FTIR analytics, the product composition can be analyzed at seven positions across the length of the reactor,” the academics stated. “Besides kinetic measurement, Kiss is also suitable for long-term measurements and measurements involving components that could potentially damage the catalyst and inhibit the reaction.” The test stand is being used to investigate ammonia synthesis in a power-to-X process.

The front view of the reactor with the furnace door open. The compact and mobile system is designed for use on location.

Image: Fraunhofer ISE

German vice-chancellor Robert Habeck visited the United Arab Emirates yesterday, where his ministry announced four hydrogen cooperation agreements and a research arrangement between the Fraunhofer Institute and the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Energy. “The UAE … wants to enable the first hydrogen deliveries to Germany in 2022,” read a press release. As part of its decarbonization strategy, Germany aims to generate up to 3 million tons of clean hydrogen demand this decade with imports to make up a large part of supplies of the gas. The agreements signed in the UAE include a partnership for a joint hydrogen transport demonstration project signed by German liquid organic hydrogen transport company Hydrogenious; the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc), the Americas division of the Jera joint vehicle established by Japanese energy company Chubu Electric Power and state-controlled peer Tepco; and the Finnish state-owned Uniper energy company headquartered in Düsseldorf.

German copper producer Aurubis, utility RWE and municipal energy company Steag – plus another entity called Gewec – signed a deal to buy blue ammonia – powered by natural gas and with its carbon emissions captured – produced by Adnoc, and the Emirati energy company also signed a co-operation agreement related to hydrogen transport with publicly-owned port logistics business Hamburger Hafen & Logistik AG. Those agreements are based on the “blue” hydrogen-related supplies making way for the renewables-powered “green” form of the energy carrier over time.

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Angolan state-owned energy business Sonangol is carrying out studies to identify a site for a factory to produce green hydrogen and its derivatives. “The initiative is part of the company's energy transition strategy in the search for renewable energy resources, developed in partnership with the German companies Conjuncta GmbH and Gauff GmbH & Co. Engineering Kg who signed, among themselves, an agreement for the implementation of a plant for the production of green hydrogen in Angola,” the company wrote last week. 

British oilfield services company Petrofac has secured its first new-energy project in Egypt with local business Mediterranean Energy Partners. “The project is an early-stage study assessing the feasibility of a new green-hydrogen-to-ammonia facility that will target the production of 125,000 tons of green ammonia [per] year for export, using a mix of solar and wind energy,” Petrofac wrote last week. “Petrofac's scope will be key to successfully delivering the project and includes sizing the electrolyzers and the feasibility of export facilities at Ain Sokhna Port, on the Gulf of Suez.” Norwegian renewables developer Scatec this month signed a memorandum of understanding with Egyptian authorities to jointly develop a green ammonia facility at the port.

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Perth-based Frontier Energy has started a renewable energy expansion study at its Bristol Springs Solar Project in Western Australia, to assess whether to increase power generation capacity beyond 500MWdc. The study will focus on the optimization of solar production, wind energy, and battery storage. “These studies will be led by experienced consultancy Xodus Group, who will consider a range of clean energy scenarios as well as the potential for green hydrogen production,” said Frontier MD Mike Young, referring to the Scottish consultant. “With the Western Australian government's plans for green hydrogen to match LNG market share by 2030, having an early mover advantage in this sector is essential.”

The government of Queensland has announced construction of a renewable hydrogen plant to fuel heavy transport in Western Downs is expected to start within six months. Publicly owned Australian electric company CS Energy has appointed the IHI Engineering Australia unit of IHI Corporation Japan to build the Kogan Renewable Hydrogen Demonstration Plant. Queensland energy and renewables minister Mick de Brenni today said the project “will produce 50,000kg of renewable hydrogen each year, when operational in 2023.”

Hydrogen flight

Californian carbon-free flight company Universal Hydrogen and Singapore-based hydrogen aviation specialist H3 Dynamics have announced a partnership to initially focus on unmanned aircraft, from small drones to large cargo delivery vehicles. H3 will develop and supply fuel cell powertrains and Universal will provide green hydrogen fuel logistics. “The partnership extends to manned aircraft, including eVTOL [electric vertical take-off and landing] and other light aircraft segments,” the companies said last week. “The two companies also agreed to collaborate in the regional aircraft market, focusing on new-build regional airliners with a distributed propulsion architecture.”

Oslo-based Nel Hydrogen Electrolyser, a subsidiary of hydrogen solutions company Nel, has received a €2 million order for an alkaline electrolyzer system from Finnish edible protein start-up Solar Foods, with delivery due either late this year or early next. “The new Solar Foods production facility, called Factory 01, is under construction in Vantaa, Finland,” said Nel Hydrogen last week. “The company estimates that the commercial Solein production will begin in the first half of 2023 and Factory 01 will serve as Solar Foods' platform for scaling up production. Solein is produced using a bioprocess where microbes are fed with gases (carbon dioxide, hydrogen and oxygen) and small amounts of nutrients.”

The European Clean Hydrogen Alliance has opened a call for project promoters among its members to present their plans to EU lender the European Investment Bank (EIB). “Promoters of electrolyzer manufacturing and electrolyzer deployment projects are invited to provide basic project information,” the EIB wrote last week, setting an application deadline of April 5.

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