Hydrogen fuel tech could be on the verge of a breakout

hydrogen fuel tech

In terms of the worldwide adoption of zero-emission transport, lithium-ion battery technology is still leading the race. However, it may be a mistake to assume that will always be the case, and that there is an inevitable shift from traditional gasoline and diesel fuels to electric vehicles. The hydrogen fuel cell vehicle could yet be a contender for the frontrunner in zero-emission vehicles.

According to forecasts by the Hydrogen Council – a worldwide initiative of over 50 top energy, transport and industry businesses with a long-term mission to develop the global hydrogen economy – hydrogen will provide 18% of global energy requirements by 2050, while hydrogen fuel is predicted to power over 400 million passenger vehicles worldwide, as well as more than 20 million trucks and 5 million buses. If the Hydrogen Council’s predictions are correct, the hydrogen fuel market would create 30 million jobs around the globe, and reach a worth of around $2.5 trillion.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, there were only 6,558 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in the United States – against over 260 million passenger vehicles registered in the nation. There are a number of reasons for that lack of uptake. For one, hydrogen fuel vehicles aren’t widely available in many areas of the U.S. But a bigger problem is the lack of infrastructure – as of March this year, there were only 39 hydrogen refueling stations nationwide … Thirty-five of which are in the state of California.

Moreover, there is still the potential for exponential growth in the adoption of hydrogen-fueled cars. If that seems a reach, we need to look at hydrogen vehicles and fuel tech in comparison to the increase in the adoption of electric cars. According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, there were just 4,736 electric vehicles sold between 2008 and 2010, while in 2018 alone, there were more than 360,000 electric vehicle sales in the United States. Similar growth in the sale of hydrogen fuel vehicles is absolutely possible – but that is reliant upon both government and industry buy-in, and investment in both vehicle technology and, perhaps more importantly, infrastructure to support hydrogen fuel.

Hydrogen technology is indeed on the verge of a breakout, and so is renewable hydrogen production technology, such as Clean Energy Enterprises’ Advanced Gasification technology, delivering practical waste-to-energy solutions to our clients nationwide.

Douglas County PUD sets sights on hydrogen fuel production

Clean energy from hydrogen Fuel

The Douglas County Public Utility District (PUD) in Washington State has clean energy set firmly in its sights with plans to expand its operations into renewable hydrogen fuel production. The nonprofit corporation operates Wells Dam on the Columbia River, which produces more power than is used by local customers. Currently, Douglas County PUD sells the excess energy to other utility districts, but the supplier now thinks that surplus electricity could also be used to produce hydrogen fuel. If the plan goes ahead, the PUD could be one of several electricity suppliers in the Pacific Northwest to start producing this form of clean energy.

The hydrogen fuel would be produced by using the excess electricity to split water molecules by electrolysis, forming hydrogen and oxygen. Douglas PUD are initially looking at investing around $3 million for the purchase of a two- to three-megawatt electrolyzer as part of a test project to determine the economic feasibility of the plan. Speaking recently to a Washington Senate committee, Douglas County PUD general manager Gary Ivory explained that hydrogen fuel can be used not only to power vehicles, but is also used in a variety of industrial processes including fertilizer production, oil refining and the manufacture of electronics.

While there are currently no commercial hydrogen fuel stations in Washington or Oregon, and the production of hydrogen-powered vehicles is still only in limited numbers, the proposal from Douglas County PUD is part of a wider push for renewable and clean energy. Douglas County PUD, along with Tacoma Power, Puget Sound Energy, Eugene Water & Electric Board and NW Natural, recently formed the Renewable Hydrogen Alliance trade association. In a recent interview, the association’s executive director, Ken Dragoon, said that the strongest prospects for the successful development of a renewable hydrogen fuelindustry lie in the Pacific Northwest, due to the greater availability of surplus hydropower at low prices compared to other parts of the country.

At Clean Energy Enterprises, we also recognize a unique opportunity for hydrogen fuel production in the great Northwest due to the enormous amount of bio wastefrom the forestry and agricultural industries. In addition to having a surplus of electricity, the Evergreen State has a surplus of biomass waste, which poses a significant disposal problem. 

With the use of a BLUE Tower Clean Energy system, virtually any organic waste stream, including the plastics that are now recognized as a worldwide threat, can be converted into clean hydrogen while mitigating the problem of waste disposal, with little to no emissions. Contact usfor more information on organic waste removal and clean energy production.