Automotive sector drives hydrogen patenting

Patenting activities for hydrogen use in the automotive sector continue to expand at much higher rates than for other end use applications, according to new IEA research.

The strong growth of international patent families (IPFs) in transportation was driven by innovation in fuel cell propulsion in the automotive sector and, to a lesser extent, short-distance aviation (particularly drones), the Hydrogen patents for a clean energy future report found. Patenting activities in these fields are largely dominated by Japanese and Korean automotive companies, and appear to generate synergies with innovation in PEM electrolysis.

Innovation in established hydrogen technologies is synonymous with the European chemical industry, but new hydrogen patenting heavyweights are companies from the automotive and chemicals sectors focusing on electrolysis and fuel cell technologies.

By contrast, innovation in internal combustion engines (ICE) and turbines using hydrogen, ammonia or methanol as a fuel has not yet been boosted by the recent policy momentum behind hydrogen, though these technologies are likely to be needed for long-distance transportation, particularly for shipping and medium-haul aviation.

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