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Hydrogen powered fuel cell EVs will play major role in decarbonizing the transportation sector

17 September 2020
  • Alexander Stroeks

As the automotive industry transforms from ICE to EV powertrains, many OEMs are exploring the use of hydrogen as an energy carrier while a few OEMs, primarily based in Japan, Korea and Germany, are already offering consumers hydrogen fuel-cell powered cars.

Hydrogen powered fuel cell technology does have the following advantages over lithium ion batteries (LiBs):

  • Zero emission and less environmental impact
  • Heavyweight batteries can be replaced with fuel cells stacks
  • Fueling hydrogen much faster than charging LiBs
  • Larger driving range (though the range of LiBs is increasing quickly)

According to the Hydrogen Council, a global initiative of leading energy, transport and industry companies with a vision and ambition for hydrogen to foster the energy transition, hydrogen can decarbonize major sectors of the economy, including but not limited to the transportation sector. Currently, this sector depends almost entirely on fossil fuels and creates more than 20% of all CO2 emissions. The Council’s vision is to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius, and a third of the global growth in hydrogen demand could come from the transportation sector.

The Council believes hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles could constitute up to 20% of the total vehicle fleet, some 400 million cars, 15 million to 20 million trucks, and around 5 million buses by 2050. Hydrogen will first play a large role in the heavier and long-range transportation segments—buses, vans, and medium to large cars (in fleets and taxis) because they are heavier vehicles and have longer range distances driven.

Also, hydrogen-powered vehicles can complement battery electric vehicles to achieve a broad decarbonization of transport segments, according to the article Hydrogen: The next wave for electric vehicles?. This is due to high performance and the convenience offered by the fast refueling times that hydrogen offers.

 

Material solutions for hydrogen fuel tank and fuel cell applications

DSM has been on the forefront of hydrogen fuel cell technology—we have already done extensive research on and development of hydrogen storage tanks and fuel cell components. A lightweight high pressure tank that combines a blow-molded inner liner made from Akulon polyamide 6 (PA6) with an outer composite structure made from EcoPaXX polyamide 410 (PA410) tapes was launched, and DSM also offers Polymer materials for fuel cell applications, focusing on peripheral material applications.

There is so much more to learn about hydrogen storage and fuel cell vehicle components, including overcoming safety and reliability concerns.

Want to learn more about this topic?

Watch the Tech Talk: Polymer Materials Enabling Hydrogen as a Safe and Reliable Energy Source for Automotive to learn the latest insights about hydrogen fuel cell technology, and its advantages over lithium ion batteries (LiBs). Reliability and safety challenges, plus, the best materials solutions to use for hydrogen fuel cell systems and components applications will be discussed.

To watch the Tech Talk click here

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