Hydrogen mobility gets a boost in Europe

Hydrogen Mobility Europe will deploy more than 1,500 fuel cell vehicles and almost 50 hydrogen refuelling stations across western Europe.
Published: Wed 20 Jul 2016

Electric mobility is gathering pace with the number of electric vehicles on the world’s roads growing rapidly. [Global electric vehicle outlook – four perspectives] At the same time, but without the same degree of publicity, is a growing interest in hydrogen mobility. But so far both the number of vehicles available and the refuelling infrastructure are limited, restricting their use to just a small number of areas.

As such hydrogen vehicles are clearly very much in the demonstration and early adoption phase.

Hydrogen Mobility Europe

Within Europe the Hydrogen Mobility Europe (H2ME) project is being conducted to demonstrate that hydrogen can support Europe’s future transport demands.

A multi-country, multi-partner initiative that will extend over 6 years, it is being supported by the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) with funding from the EU’s Horizon 2020 research programme.

The first phase, which was announced in September 2015, involves plans for 300 fuel cell vehicles (FCEVs) and 29 hydrogen refuelling stations (HRSs). The second phase, announced last month, includes the deployment and operation of 1,230 FCEVs and the addition of 20 extra HRSs, as well as testing the ability of electrolyser-hydrogen refuelling stations to help balance the electrical grid.

“Our aim has been to help bring the key businesses and public bodies investing in hydrogen mobility in Europe together to work on the common goal of making hydrogen-fuelled transport a reality in Europe,” commented Ben Madden, director, Element Energy and project coordinator for the H2ME projects. “H2ME will demonstrate the use of hydrogen in the hands of a wide range of vehicle drivers from across Europe. Understanding these customers will allow the sector to plan for the accelerated deployment of this important technology.”

Hydrogen vehicles

Two types of fuel cell electric vehicle will be deployed under H2ME: fuel cell electric cars from Daimler and Hyundai, and fuel cell range-extended vans from Symbio FCell in collaboration with Renault.

The fuel cell powertrain is a modular assembly. It is comprised of fuel cell stack, system module, hydrogen tanks, battery and electric motor. Various configuration concepts can thus be realized in the vehicle.

Daimler’s B-Class F-Cell vehicles are fitted with a 700 bar hydrogen tank in the sandwich floor unit. Its electric motor develops an output of 100kW, with a torque of 290Nm, and thus has the power rating of a 2l gasoline engine. The zero-emission drive system consumes the equivalent of 3.3l of diesel per 100km.

Hyundai’s Tucson ix35 Fuel Cell is the first mass production model of the company’s FCEV. The fuel cell system of the ix35 is integrated for high performance and efficiency, and two 700 bar hydrogen tanks provide long distance driving range.

Symbio Fcell’s range-extended fuel cell vehicles are powered by a compact 5kW fuel cell module, coupled with a light 350 bar hydrogen storage unit, a medium-size automotive battery pack and integrated onto the Renault Kangoo ZE platform. The Symbio FCell stack doubles the range of the electric-only Kangoo ZE base vehicle.

Hydrogen refuelling stations

The hydrogen refuelling stations are designed so that vehicles can be refuelled in 3-5 minutes, i.e. a similar time to refuelling of conventional petrol or diesel cars.

The current status (mid-2015) of the refuelling stations is as follows:

• France: 8 HRSs operational, with plans for 15-20 HRSs by 2020. An additional three HRSs stations will be installed under H2ME by 2019.

• Germany: about 18 HRSs operational, with plans for 100 HRSs by 2018 and 400 HRSs by 2023. An additional 20 HRSs will be installed under H2ME.

• Scandinavia: 12 HRSs operational, with planned development of 150 HRSs by 2020 across Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. An additional three HRSs will be installed under H2ME.

• UK: 6 HRSs operational, with plans for 12 HRSs by the end of 2016, 65 HRSs by 2020 and 1,150 HRSs by 2030. Two new stand-alone HRSs and upgrade of an existing 350 bar stand-alone station will be installed under H2ME.

Both on-site and off-site hydrogen production at the refuelling stations will be investigated in H2ME.

Hydrogen mobility in Europe

H2ME is a collaboration between national H2 Mobility initiatives from across Europe, which aims to coordinate European activities and help support the early rollout of hydrogen vehicles across Europe.

The first phase is of €68 million, co-funded with €32 million from the FCH JU. The second phase is of €100 million, co-funded with a further €35 million from the FCH JU.

The initiative is aimed to significantly expand the European hydrogen vehicles fleet and in so doing, to confirm the technical and commercial readiness of vehicles, fuelling stations and hydrogen production techniques.

The project will produce recommendations and identify any gaps that may prevent full commercialisation, as well as collating results to support future investments.