Increasing demand for hydrogen technologies is prompting the need for automakers and equipment suppliers to align and adapt production capacities to meet new requirements. To enable this to happen, it is essential to establish expertise and develop processes and technologies, particularly when it comes to key technology areas like hydrogen production and consumption systems, since gaining a global competitive advantage in the longer term is dependent on the ability to manufacture these systems economically . That’s why the H2SkaProMo joint project is seeking to develop assembly systems for manual, semiautomatic and fully automated production of fuel cell stacks that are readily scalable in terms of their level of automation.
While hydrogen’s deployment as an energy carrier is only in its infancy, this element already forms the backbone of many different industrial processes around the globe. In order to ensure hydrogen feedstock is handled as efficiently as possible, the ELCH electrochemical research cluster at DHBW Mannheim university is carrying out a pioneering joint project which is looking into hydrogen recycling by means of electrochemical compression. The focus of the EH2C project is on recycling hydrogen that accrues during the production of solar cells and other semiconductors.
Cummins Engine is highly committed to the H2 industry – also in the commercial vehicle sector, starting with trucks and going all the way to ships. The company is also expanding its own electrolysis technologies. A project with Sinopec consists of an electrolysis capacity of 1 GW – 1,000 H2 fueling stations for the Greater Peking Area. Cummins Engine is vehemently driving its transformation from a diesel engine producer to a fuel cell company and in doing so majorly implementing and scaling the special knowhow of the purchased/integrated Canadian company Hydrogenics.
Cummins has opened a location in Europe. On March 3rd, 2022, the US engine manufacturer put its new fuel cell factory in Herten into operation. Cummins had taken over the Hydrogenics Corp. and with it the German branch Hydrogenics GmbH in the summer of 2019, which had been located in Gladbeck and is now in the HTVG (Gesellschaft für Technologieentwicklung und Vermögensverwaltung der Stadt Herten mbH) technology development center H2Herten.
Breathtaking racing championships often serve as a test bed for new technologies. But it’s not just Formula 1 or Formula E which are putting the latest engineering advances through their paces; off-road races are also getting a look-in.
The second quarter of this year was a very good one for Tesla, with 201,250 electric cars delivered – a record. On the other hand, more and more comments are appearing that the quality of the vehicles leaves much to be desired. In addition, the market share of this frontrunner in battery-electric mobility is falling massively. In Europe, it is only about 5 per cent in the last quarter (but 13 per cent in China), because companies like VW are gaining a lot of ground and other manufacturers are constantly launching new models. Tesla will certainly find answers, such as a low-cost variant, Model 2, which according to media reports could make its début in 2022.
Two truck heavyweights become partners
Volvo and Daimler have substantiated their plans to use hydrogen for large long-distance trucks. During an online presentation event at the end of April 2021, Martin Lundstedt, President of the Volvo Group, specifically named the high possible payloads and the long ranges as decisive criteria for the use of fuel cell technology. He also held out the prospect of large-scale production starting after 2025 and a gigafactory for fuel cells being built by then. Initially, pre-series production is to take place in Esslingen near Stuttgart. The final location question is to be clarified in 2022.
In the 1990s, methanol was seen as a possible new source of power for fuel cell electric vehicles. And yet, at the turn of the century, it nearly fell out of favor altogether, as the equipment needed to burn the fuel was much more complex than systems that used hydrogen only. Still, the past few years have seen renewed efforts to bring methanol fuel cells to market. Some weeks ago, Roland Gumpert, the engineer who spearheaded the development of Audi Quattro’s four-wheel drive, was back in the news, talking about his latest project, a sports car named after his daughter Nathalie (see H2-international, April 2019).
E4tech Fuel Cell Industry Review
In March 2021, the new Fuel Cell Industry Review 2020 was published, complete with market data and detailed analysis. Since 2014, the team led by E4tech has been contacting fuel cell companies from across the globe, aggregating their shipment figures and producing an independent report each year on the current state of the fuel cell sector. Several extracts are provided here.
2020 was not the year many of us expected. But despite the very difficult situation brought about by COVID-19, fuel cell shipments continued to rise. The increase was much less than we anticipated at the end of 2019, both because of supply chain disruption and local economic slowdown, but is a very encouraging sign.
Hot on the heels of the fuel cell-powered motor glider HY4, which was awarded a test flight permit in late 2020 (see cover story in H2-international, February 2021), another venture was given the green light at the beginning of this year. As part of the follow-up BALIS project, whose approval arrived in just six weeks, the four-seater HY4 aircraft is set to become a 40-seater. On Jan. 21, Steffen Bilger, parliamentary state secretary at the German transportation ministry, handed over EUR 26 million in funding to Josef Kallo from the German aerospace center DLR.