Cenex Low Carbon Event 2014 reflects the market opportunities for Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs)

On 10th & 11th September, Intelligent Energy exhibited at one of the largest low carbon events in the automotive industry, the Cenex Low Carbon Vehicle Event 2014 at Millbrook.

Millbrook, one of Europe’s leading locations for the development and demonstration of vehicles of every kind, played host to a showcase of technologies, vehicles, presentations and seminar sessions all in the name of reducing tailpipe emissions.

This year LCV provided a series of seminars, delivered by key industry figures including Katsuhiko Hirose, General Manager of Toyota’s Fuel Cell Engineering Division and Energy Research Department on the topic of his company’s perspective on sustainable mobility. Intelligent Energy’s Dennis Hayter  gave a presentation on the progress of H2 Mobility initiatives around the world, and the implications for the imminent role out fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). Other speakers at the event included Jaguar Land Rover’s Head of Research and Advanced Systems Engineering Tony Harper, Dr Thomas Becker, Vice President of Government Affairs at the BMW Group, Richard Bruges, CEO of Productiv and Tony Pixton, Chief Executive of the UK’s Advanced Propulsion Centre.

Sustainability and the part that low carbon mobility has to play were at the heart of the event, with industry experts highlighting the real momentum and market opportunity for low carbon vehicles, including fuel cell electric, battery and hybrids.

We exhibited a range of our systems including the Gen4 air-cooled fuel cell power unit making its UK display debut,  Intelligent Energy’s fuel cell motorbike, the ENV, and the Zero Emissions Hydrogen Fuel Cell London Taxi. We noted real excitement around fuel cells with many of those we spoke to seeing them as a viable and clean long-term solution for the automotive industry. We also had a high level of interest in our Upp personal energy device and we were able to help many visitors with a top up to their USB compatible smart devices while they visited our stand.


(From left to right: Upp personal fuel cell device, Intelligent Energy ENV, Gen4 fuel cell power unit)

Intelligent Energy Commitment to Innovation Reflected in Standing as British Patent Leader

According to the UK government ‘Energy and storage’ is one of ‘eight great technologies’ that will underpin future economic growth. This reflects what David Cameron said at the International Festival of Business in June where he spoke about the need to balance the British economy across multiple sectors like engineering and manufacturing, not just finance.

For any technology business, particularly one working in the fast-moving energy sector, intellectual property is what sets you apart from the crowd; it’s the fuel of our business. As such it’s reassuring to know that a report compiled by the UK Intellectual property Office found Intelligent Energy to be the top British patent applicant for ‘energy and storage’ technologies in 2013.

We value innovation at Intelligent Energy and this is evidenced by the volume of patents granted and pending to our name. We have filed over 80 patents for ‘energy and storage technology’ in the UK alone, almost thirty more than the next company. Combine this with over 350 granted patents globally and more than 450 patents pending across 250 patent families and you can get a picture of our commitment to ensuring that the technology we produce is the best and most advanced it can be.

Top UK Applicants


Source: Eight Great Technologies, Energy Storage, A Patent Overview. Intellectual Property Office 2014.

While Intelligent Energy is well known for our power dense, proprietary fuel cell power technologies, it is perhaps less know quite how broad our technology portfolio is. We also develop the wider components necessary to turn those fuel cell technologies into systems and products as well as the software capabilities to manage and optimise their performance and functionality. Intelligent Energy’s IP goes deeper still, encompassing fuel cell related manufacture and the generation of hydrogen fuel.

We at Intelligent Energy understand that intellectual property is the lifeblood of our business. As such, we will continue to invest in R&D so as to develop market-leading fuel cell solutions for the automotive, consumer electronic and distributed power sectors. By doing this we will maintain our position as an industry pioneer, making hydrogen fuel cells a commercial reality.

FCH 2 JU to accelerate commercial deployment of hydrogen-based energy and transport solutions

On July 9th Intelligent Energy’s CEO, Henri Winand, attended the official launch of the next phase of the EU’s research programme, Horizon 2020, where the invitation went out for funding proposals as seven public-private partnerships were launched including the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH 2 JU). Out of Horizon 2020’s €80bn R&D programme, €1.33bn has been allocated to the FCH JU to further develop and implement hydrogen-based energy and transport across Europe.

Dr Winand said: “This funding programme is helping to boost investment in the fuel cells and hydrogen (FCH) sector. The new ring-fenced budget will help accelerate the commercial deployment of FCH applications and has a very strong potential to address energy security and climate change. This programme’s ultimate ambition is clear – getting fuel cells and hydrogen to the market, at scale.”

In his capacity as Treasurer of The New Energy World Industry Grouping (NEW-IG) and board member of FCH2 JU, Dr Winand outlined how the sector will focus on technologies for both clean transport and energy storage and security. In attendance at the launch were three hundred delegates and senior EU leaders including Commission President, José Manuel Barroso, as well as European Commissioners for Transport and Innovation.
President Barroso said: “Only if the best brains from academia, industry, SMEs, research institutes and other organisations come together can we successfully tackle the huge challenges that we are facing. This is what public-private partnerships are about, the joining of forces to make the lives of Europeans better, create jobs and boost our competitiveness.”

Being part of the FCH2 JU public-private partnership/joint technology initiative (JTI) has a number of benefits. It means the company can help set the priorities and shape the strategic programme in order to enable private investments. “Fuel cells and hydrogen can help Europe address some of its biggest challenges: cut carbon dioxide emissions, deliver large scale energy storage, reduce dependence on fossil fuels and create jobs and growth. Our objective is to unleash this great potential. The financial support from Horizon 2020 and the new investment we secure will help fuel cell and hydrogen based products and services become an everyday reality sooner rather than later,” said Dr Henri Winand.

Intelligent Energy Wins Most Successful Company at UKSPA Anniversary Awards

The UK Science Park Association (UKSPA) celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. Over that period, the UKSPA has encouraged the growth of Science Parks, Innovation Centres and Incubators up and down the country, fostering an ecosystem to encourage innovation and the growth of businesses like Intelligent Energy.

As part of the celebrations the Association held the UKSPA 30th Anniversary Summit over two days in the International Conference Centre in Birmingham. This included a gala Awards Dinner on 10th July to recognise the achievements of all those who have been involved with Science Parks and contributed to the innovation movement in the UK over the past 30 years.

At Intelligent Energy we’re delighted not just to have been nominated for, but to win the most coveted award of the night: ‘Most Successful Company’. The companies shortlisted were judged on a number of criteria including: innovative thinking, creation of new employment opportunities, development of new technology, application of funding and exploitation of new markets.

From left, Lesley Evans, Chief Executive of award sponsor, Haseltine Lake; Andy Spooner (Intelligent Energy); host for the evening, the BBC’s Michael Mosley; Anna Leather (Loughborough University Enterprise Office) and Dr Jon Moore (Intelligent Energy).

Intelligent Energy Brings Hydrogen Fuel Cells to the International Festival of Business 2014

On Monday 9th June, we joined some of the brightest lights from UK industry in Liverpool’s St George’s Hall as Prime Minister David Cameron took centre stage at the UKTI’s British Business Embassy (BBE). Described by Cameron in his opening address as “the biggest showcase of British industry since 1951,” the invitation-only event marked the launch of the International Festival of Business 2014. The event allowed British movers and shakers from across British industry – including the advanced engineering, automotive, aerospace and manufacturing industry sectors – to come together and show why the UK continues to be a hotbed of innovation.

DC at BBE

Intelligent Energy was invited to exhibit at the event where we took the opportunity to introduce delegates to a range of our advanced hydrogen fuel cell systems.

The first of our three showcases was the Upp™: a personal energy device incorporating Intelligent Energy’s innovative fuel cell technology in to a portable device which charges compatible handheld devices via USB. Upp allows users to power a range of portable electronic equipment such as smartphones, portable speakers, eReaders and digital cameras quickly, in fact as fast as the mains, –independently from the grid!

Upp

The automotive industry was one area of focus at the BBE, with some of the most impressive feats of British automotive engineering on display including the Mono single seater supercar, a Formula E racing car, and a McClaren racing car. We exhibited our own Intelligent Energy fuel cell taxi, a zero-emission vehicle which was used as a VIP carrier at the 2012 Olympic Games, as well as the world’s first purpose-built hydrogen fuel-cell motorbike, the Intelligent Energy ENV. These two very different vehicles, and indeed the Upp device, all serve to demonstrate the wide range of applications that Intelligent Energy’s scalable fuel cell technologies are now ready to address.

In addition to high level representatives from both Government and industry, a wide range of national and regional news also attended, with Steph McGovern interviewing Dennis Hayter, our Vice President of Business Development, live on BBC Breakfast News.

IE And BBC

One thing that was inescapable throughout the event was the importance of science and engineering to industry. David Cameron highlighted the need to balance the economy across multiple industries, not just financial services, with multiple speakers through the day reiterating the need to foster engineering talent from as young an age as possible.

The International Festival for Business 2014 continues apace and will run for 50 days across June and July with over 250 business events covering almost every industry sector. It is expected to generate £1.7bn worth of business with over 250,000 delegates arriving from over 125 countries.

Hydrogen safety – a matter of design

For anyone who visited Hall 27 at Hannover Messe this year it was clear that hydrogen is becoming widely accepted as a viable, sustainable energy carrier. Over 150 exhibitors from 25 countries displayed  hydrogen related products 8  ranging from automotive fuel cell power applications, residential generation (micro-CHP), distributed power generation to a wide array of grid scale ‘power-to-gas’ energy storage solutions.

Making hydrogen fuel safe for consumer use has ultimately been achieved through manufacturers’ rigorous product safety testing and third party design validation programs   to provide the same safety standards in hydrogen fuel delivery, storage and use that are achieved with fossil fuels today  23

The result of these efforts can be seen in the automotive sector by the release of the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell CUV in 2013 13   and both Toyota14  and Honda 15 announcing series production of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) in the 2015 – 2020 timeframe which will  have undergone rigorous crash test and hydrogen storage tank safety testing to ensure vehicle and passenger safety 12.


Fig 1: Toyota at CES 2014 – Source: Toyota website http://www.toyota.com/fuelcell/

Toyota executive Bob Carter was widely reported at the Automotive News World Congress in January 2014 as saying that bullets from a small-calibre gun bounced off their carbon-fibre hydrogen fuel tank, and that a 0.50-caliber bullet barely made dents.2

Directive 2007/46/EC 24 establishes a framework for the approval of motor vehicles as laid down by the European Parliament and the Council. In January 2009 type-approval of hydrogen-powered motor vehicles was included in the directive with the addition of regulation EC No 79/200916. Hydrogen vehicle tank testing described in EC 79/2009 includes the requirements for impact damage testing, to provide evidence the tank can withstand specified mechanical impacts, and penetration testing to provide evidence that the container does not rupture when penetrated by a bullet. 7

The following excerpt from the Honda Clarity FCX website1 also provides a reassuring overview of other FCEV hydrogen safety features:

Hydrogen Safety 1

Sensors are located throughout the vehicle to provide a warning in the unlikely event of a hydrogen leak. Should such a leak occur, the ventilation system is activated and an automatic system closes the main cut-off valves on the hydrogen tank or supply lines as necessary. The high-voltage lines are electrically isolated. In the event of a collision, the system controller automatically shuts off the flow of hydrogen and electric current. Repeated flood and fire testing have confirmed a very high level of safety and reliability.

Refuelling Safety 1

Honda has taken safety precautions with regard to refuelling safety. To prevent reverse flow from the tank, the hydrogen filler inlet has an integrated check valve. The fuel intake mechanism is also designed to prevent contamination by other gases or the connection of nozzles designed for hydrogen stored at incompatible pressure levels.

Source 1 : Honda Clarity website: http://automobiles.honda.com/fcx-clarity/hydrogen-safety.aspx

Hydrogen filling stations

To support FCEV introduction a growing number of hydrogen filling stations have opened globally to serve the early adopters of fuel cell technology. According to TÜV SÜD consulting services there are now 516 operational hydrogen filling stations safely operating worldwide today 6, with ramp-up plans to develop further stations in most global regions. The safety requirements for the transportation, storage and handling of compressed and liquid hydrogen for these stations is well understood and governed by established codes, standards and practices 17 18, since hydrogen has been used extensively in industrial applications and international space programs for the last forty years.

These well established and proven best practices, together with the continued development of global harmonized safety standards should ensure that consumers have confidence to switch from traditional fossil fuels to hydrogen, without concerns over refuelling or vehicle safety.

Portable hydrogen safety

In the consumer electronics sector, the successful third party safety validation of the Intelligent Energy Upp™ portable fuel cell charging system in 2014 was the culmination of considerable development to ensure that the product was safe for global shipment and sale. 22

(1)   ISO 16111: 2008 – (transportable gas storage devices), which defines the material, design, construction and testing requirements for hydrogen in metal hydride storage systems.

(2)   IEC 62282-6-100 – (Micro fuel cell power systems – Safety 2010) which covers the basic safety requirements for all micro fuel cell systems (fuel cell + cartridge).

International third party validation test houses, such as UL (www.ul.com), CSA (www.csagroup.org), TÜV (www.tuv.com) and Kiwa (www.kiwa-eup.com ), have worked with industry OEMs to provide bespoke test facilities to support the product certification of portable fuel cell systems for public use.21

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)and Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) have also issued guidelines that allow passengers to carry certified portable fuel cell devices and two spare hydrogen fuel cartridges on passenger aircraft in carry-on baggage 19   . This decision was a pivotal safety endorsement by the aviation industry for portable consumer fuel cell systems.

Fig 2: The Upp fuel cell charging system from Intelligent Energy
http://www.beupp.com

Know your fuel (H2)

Hydrogen is no more or less dangerous than any existing fossil fuels used today, it just has a different set of usage requirements based on its inherent characteristics as a gas. Compared to petroleum and natural gas fuels, hydrogen actually has two key properties that can provide safety benefits in its utilisation:

Dispersal

Hydrogen rapidly disperses into the atmosphere upon its release (up to 2.8 times faster than natural gas through the same size exit hole 11), quickly diluting to non-flammable concentrations 9.  Heavier gasses such as petroleum fumes and propane tend to concentrate at ground level posing a greater ignition risk. Hydrogen has a wide flammability range, 4% to 74% in air, but its natural dispersal tendency as the lightest element makes it difficult to contain outside of its designed containment device. Ventilation is a key design criterion in FCEV and all hydrogen systems to ensure the unrestricted dispersal of any released gas.

Low radiant flame heat

A hydrogen flame burns with low levels of radiated heat near the flame compared to a hydrocarbon flame, significantly reducing the risk of secondary fire. Tests performed on automotive hydrogen fuel tanks simulating the ignition of a hydrogen leak, burned for less than two minutes with no damage to the interior of the vehicle, due to the low radiant heat of the flame 10.

Hydrogen is non-toxic and a release does not cause atmospheric pollution. It is a highly versatile natural energy carrier which if properly handled within defined guidelines can be safely integrated into widespread consumer use under existing, well established codes and practices.

 

End

 

Sources:

Source 1 : Honda Clarity website: http://automobiles.honda.com/fcx-clarity/hydrogen-safety.aspx

Source 2:Tech Investor News http://www.techinvestornews.com/Green/Latest-Green-Tech-News/official-toyota-fires-bullets-into-hydrogen-fuel-tanks-shoots-down-ev-suppo

Source 3: Roads2Hycom –compressed hydrogen storage. Doc ID 8262.March 2014

Source 4: BP website – filling stations http://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/about-bp/our-history/history-of-bp/special-subject-histories/service-stations.html

Source 5: Highbeam gasoline service station business report http://business.highbeam.com/industry-reports/retail/gasoline-service-stations

Source 6: TUV website: global listing of active hydrogen filling stations http://www.netinform.net/h2/H2Stations/Default.aspx

Source 7: EC79/2009 hydrogen safety directive

Source 8 – Hannover Messe website: exhibitor statistics: http://www.hannovermesse.de/search

Source 9 – The Hydrogen Association: hydrogen safety fact sheet: http://www.fchea.org/index.php?id=50

Source 10  – Fuel Leak Simulation. Dr Michael R. Swain – University of Miami. Doc Link: Ref: http://evworld.com/article.cfm?storyid=482

Source 11   Safety issues of hydrogen in vehicles Frano Barbir / Energy Partners: http://courses.engr.illinois.edu/npre470/web/readings/Hydrogen%20safety%20issues.pdf

Source 12   US Department of Transport: FEDERAL MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARDS
AND REGULATIONS http://www.nhtsa.gov/cars/rules/import/FMVSS/

Source 13  Hyundai news room:http://www.hyundainews.com/us/en-us/FuelCell/PressReleases.aspx

Source 14  Toyota news room:http://www.toyota-global.com/innovation/environmental_technology/fuelcell_vehicle/

Source 15  Honda news room:http://world.honda.com/news/2013/4131120FCEV-Concept-Los-Angeles-Auto-Show/index.html

Source 16 : TRL Hydrogen-powered vehicles: review of type-approval legislation on vehicle safety http://www.pedz.uni-mannheim.de/daten/edz-h/gdb/10/report-hydrogen-powered-vehicles_en.pdf

Source 17 : Hydrogen Codes and Standards Technical Report prepared by the Partnership for Advancing the Transition to Hydrogen, Washington DC: http://www.hpath.org/resources/TechnicalReport.pdf

Source 18 : CALIFORNIA HYDROGEN FUELING STATION GUIDELINES: September 2004. REF:600-04-002V1 http://www.energy.ca.gov/reports/2004-10-14_600-04-002V1.PDF

Source 19   FAA hazardous materials regulations: http://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/hazmat_safety/

Source 20  Air Products: Hydrogen safety website statement: http://www.airproducts.co.uk/industries/Energy/Power/Power-Generation/hydrogen-fuel-safety.aspx

Source 21   KIWA: Testing and Certification of Hydrogen & Fuel Cells: http://www.kiwaenergyusingproducts.com/uploadedFiles/Expert_Center/EuP/News_and_Publications/Hydrogen2_brochure_v2.pdf

Source 22   Intelligent Energy News Room: http://www.intelligent-energy.com/about-us/media-room/news/company-news/2014/04/29/upp-portable-fuel-cell-the-clean-energy-alternative-for-powering-usb-devices-receives-industry-certification

Source 23 Hydrogen / Fuel Cell Codes and Standards Overview: http://www.fuelcellstandards.com/

Source 24European Commission Directive 2007/46/EC (Framework Directive): http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/sectors/automotive/documents/directives/directive-2007-46-ec_en.htm

Hydrogen – Fuelling the Zero Emission Drive in the Golden State

California has long been a global leader in the adoption of new zero-emission technology – the state’s Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) programme for example, requires vehicle manufacturers to offer specific numbers of the cleanest car technologies available for sale, specifically hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) and plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs)and has been designed to achieve long-term emission reduction goals.

 ZEV regulation was first adopted in California in 1990 and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) Advanced Clean Cars Program requires that over 10% of new vehicle sales are electric drive by 2025.In March of 2012, Governor Jerry Brown, signed an executive order that established a goal of 1.5 million ZEVs on California’s roadways also by 2025.

Major automotive manufacturers such as Toyota and Hyundai have stated that they intend to make their FCEVs available to the motoring public from 2014/15. The car manufacturers are likely to first launch their fuel cell vehicles in geographies where plans to put in place hydrogen refuelling infrastructure are most advanced. These include Germany, Japan, Scandinavia, the UK, Korea and of course, California.

On the 1st of May, the California Energy Commission  announced that it will invest $46.6 million to accelerate the development of publicly accessible hydrogen refueling stations in California in order to promote a consumer market for zero-emission fuel cell vehicles.The funding will progress the Governor’s executive order directing the state government to support and facilitate the rapid commercialisation of ZEVs in California, with a benchmark that the state’s zero-emission vehicle infrastructure will be able to support up to one million vehicles by 2020.The funding has been made to eight applicants through the Energy Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP), and includes six 100% renewable hydrogen refueling stations. It will add a further 28 new refueling stations across the state: 13 in Northern California and 15 in Southern California, strategically situated to create a refueling network along major corridors and in regional centres. In addition, a mobile refueller will provide added reliability to the early hydrogen refueling network by providing refueling capability when stations are off-line.

These 28 new hydrogen refueling stations are in addition to the nine existing refueling locations and the 17 stations currently under development in California and will bring the total up to 54. This is a significant milestone for the initiative, which aims to establish a total 100-station network across the state to support the full commercialisation of fuel cell vehicles.

Interestingly, it also recently emerged that Toyota itself is not just involved in the manufacture and introduction of FCEVs, but is also directly contributing to the development of a hydrogen fuel infrastructure in California by injecting at least $7.2 million in First Element Fuel, a company planning to operate pumps and sell hydrogen for passenger cars.

As a further part of its drive towards increased numbers of ZEVs and to advance hydrogen transportation, the California Energy Commission and Air Resources Board announced at the end of April that the state of California itself has joined H2 USA. This is a public–private partnership led by the U.S. Department of Energy focused on  establishing a hydrogen fueling infrastructure and accelerating the commercialization of FCEVs.

As the above recent developments demonstrate, the move towards zero-emission technology for transport is gathering pace in California with refuelling infrastructure to enable the commercialisation of fuel cell electric vehicles beginning to take shape. California is once again taking a leading role in making zero-emission vehicles a practical and large scale reality.

EU makes major headway towards a hydrogen fuelled future

The hydrogen fuel cell sector has recently seen two milestone wins. Firstly, the European Council recently agreed a second wave of funding for the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 (FCH2) Joint Technology Initiative (JTI), a decision that was subsequently formally adopted by the EU Member States on the 6th May.  Following its successful first phase set up in 2008, the initiative will continue to develop a portfolio of clean, efficient and affordable fuel cells and hydrogen technologies up to the point of market introduction. Under the EU’s new funding programme – Horizon 2020 – the programme will be fitted with an increased budget of €1.33bn.

This news is confirmation that the European Commission sees a very positive future for hydrogen and fuel cells. This public private partnership will leverage private investments in the technologies up to at least the same amount as the public funds. This encourages market opportunities to be realised due to supported investment as it seeks “to develop commercially viable, clean solutions that use hydrogen as an energy carrier and fuel cells as energy converters”.

Secondly, the Clean Power for Transport Package (CPTP) adopted by the EU Parliament on April 15th proposes measures that ensure the build-up of alternative fuel stations across Europe with common standards for their design and use including EU wide standardisation of recharging plugs for electric vehicles. Member states will have to provide a minimum infrastructure for alternative fuels, including hydrogen.

Siim Kallas, Vice President of Transport for the European Commission commented that this was “a clear signal that Europe is putting clean fuels at the heart of its transport policy, and the drive to develop a transport system fit for the 21st century.”

These two exciting milestones make for a powerful combination. They demonstrate a high level of confidence, both from government and industry, in the prospects for hydrogen fuel cell technologies, offer a major opportunity for Europe to establish a leading position in a fast growing global market, and help to build Europe’s international competitiveness.

 

Note:

Intelligent Energy is an active member of the New Energy World Industry Grouping (NEW-IG), the leading industrial association representing a major grouping of companies, both large and SMEs, working in the fuel cell and hydrogen sector. NEW-IG partners work with the European Commission and the research community to accelerate the market introduction of these clean technologies in the energy and transport sectors.

Building momentum towards a low-emission Britain

This week saw the launch of the UK Government’s proposals for supporting ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs). The report, “Investing in ultra-low emission vehicles in the UK, 2015 to 2020,” outlined the Government’s support of clean alternatives to combustion engines for the next five years.

 The Government is allocating £500m to support the take-up of ULEVs including funding grants towards the cost of buying ULEVs of up to a maximum of £5,000. This is welcome news and clearly demonstrates a commitment to low-emission vehicles. While this £500m funding was first announced during the 2013 Spending Round, the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) report provides further details on plans to support the nascent market for low emission vehicles, which include providing essential new infrastructure including a wider network of charge points for electrics vehicles. The report also shows OLEV’s firm commitment to work with industry and local authorities to identify ways to improve the consumer experience and boost the uptake of these vehicles.

 Drawing upon the conclusions of last year’s UK H2 Mobility consortium report that proposed an initial network of 65 hydrogen refuelling stations across the UK, the report reiterated its support for hydrogen as an ultra-low emission technology and stated that an announcement will be made by autumn 2014 on the actions that Government and industry stakeholders will be taking to position the UK as a lead market for the introduction of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

 As a founding partner of UK H2 Mobility, Intelligent Energy welcomes the OLEV report and the Government’s continued commitment to invest in ULEVs to reduce CO2 emissions and air pollution. We are also delighted to see that the Government is providing strong support to UK industry in its efforts to become a global leader in the design, manufacture of Ultra Low Emissions Vehicles. 

 We look forward to the Government’s announcement on hydrogen infrastructure as together we work towards the aspiration of 1.6m fuel cell electric vehicles driving on the UK’s roads by 2030.

 

Fuel cells: is there enough platinum? Yes!

In late March, Bloomberg posted an article – ‘Fuel-Cell Boom Hampered by Need for Platinum, GE Says’ – debating the future of fuel cells in the context of a limited supply of platinum. While the article was of interest, some of the information presented was inaccurate. This blog post seeks to provide a more balanced and informed view of the requirement for platinum in fuel cells.

Platinum is indeed highly important in the production of fuel cells, it serves as a catalyst that facilitates the reaction between hydrogen and oxygen producing electricity with only water as a by-product.

However, unlike many other metals, platinum is almost always recycled. As a result, most of the platinum mined is still available for use and primary platinum is only part of the total resource. A report from a US Geological Survey revealed that the world platinum production capacity, an approximation of maximum supply, could increase by as much as 69,000 kg from primary capacity and 22,000 kg from recycling. Recycling rates are likely to be significant as platinum can be efficiently recycled from fuel cells.

It has been suggested in the past that with the mass commercialisation of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), the world’s annual platinum production will fail significantly to meet demand. However, a report presented to the DoE shows that the platinum industry has the potential to meet a scenario where FCEVs achieve 50% market penetration by 2050. Also, there is very little to suggest that platinum supply is dwindling. Studies have concluded that there are sufficient accessible reserves to increase supply by up to 5% per year for each of the next 50 years which will allow for the build-up of a fleet of 1.7 billion FCEVS. Thus, detailed studies of platinum availability suggest that this should not be a limiting factor in the commercialisation of fuel cells.

Companies in the fuel cell space continue to improve performance while lowering platinum loading. According to the US DoE, the amount of platinum in PEM fuel cells has decreased by around 80% during the past decade. This trend is expected to continue, albeit at a reduced rate with smaller incremental improvements.

Furthermore, Toyota recently announced that the latest iteration of its fuel cell has reduced platinum loadings to around 30 g. With a target sale price of $50,000 for its fuel cell vehicle, the metal would contribute less than 3% of the total vehicle cost. A significant component, but by no means prohibitive or a showstopper.

To conclude, while the demand for platinum will undoubtedly increase as fuel cell technology becomes mainstream, there will continue to be a ready supply of the metal to support the on-going commercialisation of this exciting technology.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.