In 2006 when Brad Pitt pulled up in a hydrogen-powered BMW Seven Series for the world premiere of Oceans 13 in Los Angeles, such vehicle was seen as a car for celebrities.
Today, vehicles powered by hydrogen are now a reality to the wider public and are being brought and driven around the world by the average member of public, poising a zero-emission alternative to those featuring the traditional combustion engine.
From hype to reality; this is the journey of which hydrogen-powered vehicles have endured over the past decade or so – and such journey was today (Sep 30) explored by Linde Engineering on a virtual hydrogen seminar.
Identifying the catalyst for such transition was Markus Bachmeier, Director of Sales and Products for Linde Hydrogen Fueltech. “When we look at road transport today, for the last 100 years there has been one dominate drive in technology, and that’s the internal combustion engine, the gasoline engines, the diesel engines,” Bachmeier explained.
“But now that technology is facing a dead-end situation. This situation is due to legislation being brought in by many cities, states and countries to put bans on internal combustion engines. And when you look at those countries, they want to ban these engines any time between 2025, 2030, 2040 or 2050.
“2030 and 2040 may sound far away in the future, but when you look at the development cycle for vehicles, for passenger cars, for trucks, for buses, this is not more than one of those development cycles – it’s really around the corner.”
Speaking on just how positively the ban of traditional internal combustion engines can be, Bachmeier explained that those locations which have already publicised legislation and policy on such bans account for approximately 65% of the world market, almost two thirds of passenger cars today.
“Looking at that situation, looking at that dead end for combustion engines, this opens up a tremendous business for zero emissions vehicles,” Bachmeier continued. Keen to make the most of hydrogen in this “dead-end for combustion engines,” Bachmeier explained that Linde will make hydrogen mobility a big success.
Having installed approximately 200 hydrogen refuelling stations worldwide, Linde now holds a wealth of knowledge in supporting hydrogen-powered vehicles – and the company’s footprint in this sector will only continue to grow.
“We’re already seeing hydrogen mobility take off in a lot of places. Now, what is the core product? The hydrogen refuelling station.” Showcasing an image of an existing Linde station in Malaysia, Bachmeier continued, “You can see that it looks very similar to a conventional gasoline station. There is a canopy, there is a forecourt and there is a dispenser. It is very similar to what people are used to.”
Reverting back to the title of the session From Hype to Reality, Bachmeier then went on to explain how a similar car (both powered by hydrogen) which was Brad Pitt’s movie premier transport, was recently provided to him as a company car for his day-to-day job.
Showing an image of the car in the background, Bachmeier continued, “In February 2019, I got this car as a company car. It’s a series car, it’s already the second generation from that manufacturer and I’ve never had any issues with the car. I love to drive it, and yes, you can buy it and drive it too.”
“I think we’ve seen tremendous, tremendous progress compared to where we were five years, or eight years or even ten years ago.”
However, it’s not just for light-duty passenger vehicles where Bachmeier is recognising the growth of hydrogen-powered transportation. Focusing on trucks he also highlighted how the hype, is yet again now a reality. “When it comes to trucks, as shortly back as 2016, there were no trucks. Or at least none I know of.
“Today, there are loads of hydrogen trucks on the road. All truck manufacturers are really working at a very high speed on hydrogen trucks. Whether it’s Nikola, Iveco, Daimler, Toyota and Kenworth, or a Chinese manufacturer. These truck fleets are growing fast – and it’s the same for trains as well.”
Clearly enthusiastic about how hydrogen mobility has accelerated across the road, and Linde’s role in this, Bachmeier then went on to detail some of the industrial gas giants withstanding hydrogen infrastructure facilities located worldwide, and how they are supporting the market.
How Linde is scaling up to serve the growing hydrogen mobility market in North America
Linde is currently in the process of retrofitting its Ontario, California plant to produce green hydrogen to fuel the US state’s mobility market. Targeting the second quarter of 2021 for full commercialisation, the facility will manufacture green hydrogen using renewable methane, in addition to producing conventional hydrogen.
With this investment, the US-German industrial gas giant will be able to initially produce 2.6 metric tons of green hydrogen per day – enough to fuel up to 1,600 vehicles a day – helping to avoid up to 50,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. As demand for green hydrogen grows, Linde plans to expand its capacity accordingly, and revealed to H2 View that the US mobility market is a big focus for the company.
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