North America’s hydrogen highway
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North America’s hydrogen highway

It’s 2004 and Arnold Schwarzenegger, then governor of California in the US, has just pulled up at the University of California, Davis’s (UC Davis) new hydrogen station in a fuel cell car. It’s the first publicly accessible station in California and Schwarzenegger refuels the hydrogen-powered car becoming the first member of the general public to use it. Declaring “this starts a new era for clean California transportation”, Schwarzenegger then signed an executive order to create a hydrogen transportation network throughout California by 2010 – a ‘hydrogen highway’.

Whilst California has very much been the frontrunner for hydrogen station and fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) deployments, today that ‘hydrogen highway’ just stretches outside of the sunshine state and into the wider nation, with some stations available in Canada too. According to the US Department of Energy, there are 51 hydrogen refuelling stations open to the public in the US today, the majority of which are in California, and five stations open to the public in Canada. Hydrogen mobility is in its beginning stages, but North America has big plans for this market.

The US
Road Map to a US Hydrogen Economy sets out plans for 150,000 light and heavy-duty fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) and 1,000 hydrogen stations by 2025, increasing to 1.2 million FCEVs and 4,300 stations by 2030. Two decades later (2050), the report envisions that three out of ten vehicles on the road are FCEVs, and the hydrogen economy represents 68 million metric tons of hydrogen consumed every year.

Air Liquide North Americas’ $200m investment in building the first global-scale renewable hydrogen production facility and logistics infrastructure dedicated to the hydrogen energy markets, including mobility, is going to be instrumental in seeing these plans come to fruition. Located in North Las Vegas, Nevada, Air Liquide said construction of the facility is well underway with several structures already built, and the plant is scheduled to be completed and commissioned by year-end. It will have a capacity of nearly 30 tonnes of liquid hydrogen per day, produced in part from renewable natural gas sourced from landfills using Air Liquide’s advanced separation membrane technology, to serve the western US mobility market.

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