A Look Into H2-Mobility


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The idea of hydrogen in vehicles is not new. In fact, going back to 200 years ago it was used in the very first internal combustion engines as an inflammable fuel. But due to safety concerns and low energy density, hydrogen fuel could not be the showstopper. In a modern fuel cell, hydrogen is a carrier of energy, where it enters the hydrogen electrode and reacts with the catalyst coating on the anode. These release ions cross the electrolyte and enter the cathode, but electrons do not pass the electrolyte instead flow into the electrical circuit and produce energy. The same operation when seen as the traction energy in the vehicle.

Working operation of Fuel Cell Vehicle; Courtesy: Deloitte China & Ballard

This article shall walk the readers along the astute study done by Deloitte China in collaboration with Ballard on the hydrogen fuel cell technology in the nations namely US, China, Japan & Europe.

History & Present-day Geographical Overview of Fuel Cell Technology

The Fuell Cell was backtracked in the year 1839 by William Grove, a Welsh Scientist. However, it became an international highlight in the 1970s. The decades passed by and in the fiscal year 2014, Toyota sobbed its R&D capabilities with the world’s first fuel cell vehicle. Since then, major nations such as the USA, China, Japan, & Europe set the bull’s-eye on fuel cells. These nations have covered a long route through the government incentives or policies since the shout in the market.

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Typical applications of H2-mobility, Courtesy: Deloitte China & Ballard

As a national strategy, the US government has published the Hydrogen Research, Development And Demonstration Act in the early 1990s. DOE (in 2019) has announced a fund budgetary of $31 million to promote hydrogen production and integration storage tasks. Also, it launched H2USA to advance hydrogen infrastructure. “The California Fuel Cell Partnership has outlined targets for 1,000,000 FCEVs by 2030.”, stated in Fueling the Future of Mobility, Volume 1 by Deloitte & Ballard.

As per China’s energy strategy and technology innovation plan of 2016, hydrogen is one of the key focuses of China in the coming decades. Though late, the giant-tech nation has started imprinting the footprints in fuel cell technology. There is an unclear update on the policies on hydrogen infrastructure as of now. Like BEVs, the authority is targeting the deployment of commercial FCEVs on a large scale.

About the survey, Japan government has included hydrogen as a ‘national energy’ and an integrated approach to hydrogen production, storage, transportation, and applications has been outlined in the fourth Strategic Energy Plan by the nation in 2014. Japan seeks, “full-fledged operation of manufacturing, transportation, and storage of zero-carbon emission hydrogen by 2040”.  

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Also, European authorities are proactive in fuel cell technology. In the year 20013, 25 EU nations collaborated on the ‘ERA’ project and proposed a full-fledged roadmap for hydrogen energy development towards 2030 and 2050. Germany has invested in the world’s first hydrogen filling stations and forecasts for 3.7 million fuel cell passenger vehicles on road by 2030.

Fuel cell roadmap in Europe, Courtesy: Deloitte China & Ballard

Conclusion As per Fueling the Future of Mobility, Volume 1 by Deloitte & Ballard, nations are even seeing a complete adoption of greener fuel vehicles over the solely internal combustion engine vehicles by 2040. The aptness, improvements, and innovations by several R&Ds worldwide are worth noting in various vehicle segments. The hydrogen as traction fuel is no longer only at the experimental level and this abundant compound is an immediate future fuel solution. The environmental stresses are so alarming that a push for green energy is the need of an hour.

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