By Noel Leeson, NanoSUN Founder & Executive Director.
Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe. It’s a clean burning fuel with two to three times more energy per kg than natural gas, diesel or petrol. We have been using hydrogen to heat our homes, to cook with, to fuel rockets and as a raw material in industry since the 1800s. So, what are the barriers to the world quickly replacing traditional polluting transportation fuels with clean hydrogen?
Firstly, we must be able to produce hydrogen at a cost that is competitive with today’s liquid fuels and in an environmentally friendly way. The good news here is that big reductions in the costs of electrolysers coupled with huge reductions in the cost of producing green electricity, advances in carbon capture technologies and innovations in methane pyrolysis are all underpinning a huge wave of investment in environmentally friendly, low cost green, blue and turquoise hydrogen production. Consultancy firm McKinsey reports circa €30Bn of investments in Europe alone.
Secondly, while technologies for burning hydrogen for heating and cooking are well established, replacing diesel and petrol with hydrogen requires innovation and change in vehicle drive train technologies. Again, the good news in the commercial vehicle sector is that the costs of fuel cell drive trains are falling fast and with the costs of hydrogen internal combustion engines now rivalling those of diesel engines, more and more vehicle manufacturers are bringing hydrogen fuelled vehicles to market.
So far, so good, but unlike petrol and diesel, hydrogen is a gas, and while it can be transported from production sites to domestic users and some industrial users through the existing natural gas piping network, if we want to use hydrogen to power our cars, trucks and buses, further innovations & investments in distribution and refuelling infrastructure are needed to transfer hydrogen from the production sites and into our vehicles.
This is where NanoSUN comes in. We have decided to concentrate our efforts on refuelling commercial vehicles like hydrogen buses and heavy-duty trucks. Commercial vehicles produce disproportionally high levels of greenhouse gases relative to their numbers on the road (plus all sorts of other pollutants such as NOx and soot). Yet because of their size and typical usage patterns they are the hardest vehicles to clean-up using battery technology alone.
As with hydrogen production and vehicle drive trains, hydrogen fuelling must be low cost and it must be as convenient to use as today’s diesel fuelling systems if we are to see an increased uptake by commercial vehicle operators.
NanoSUN’s Pioneer Hydrogen Refuelling Station answers the twin calls of low cost and convenience. Pioneer is filled at a clean hydrogen production plant, transported to a commercial vehicle depot or to a filling station where it directly refuels the vehicles. Simple to operate, with minimal utilities and deployment requirements, Pioneer is a direct replacement for the traditional diesel tank and pump.
When coupled with state-of-the-art clean hydrogen production and the latest in fuel cell or hydrogen combustion engines, Pioneer helps to deliver a cost per mile driven that is equivalent to today’s costs for diesel power while eliminating greenhouse emissions. That’s one more barrier to the Hydrogen Economy knocked down!
Find out more about NanoSUN's Pioneer!