Source: Mobility Innovation, 2022
Is transporting hydrogen dangerous?
Hydrogen is highly flammable and this means that ensuring safety of gas storage systems, and robust governance are fundamental.
The regulatory landscape has been a limiting factor for hydrogen take-up, however the new global regulation UN ECE R134 is an important milestone. Luxfer Gas Cylinders has achieved this certification, demonstrating its hydrogen cylinders and hydrogen fuel systems are safe for use in hydrogen-powered vehicles, across a wide range of applications.
Will hydrogen fuel take off in the transport sector?
The Hydrogen Council estimates that there will be 50,000 hydrogen-powered buses and 350,000 hydrogen-powered trucks on the world’s roads by 2030, with the UK among those countries helping to lead the way.
Two options to support hydrogen fuel for transport are being explored and invested in are fuel cell technology and conversions of combustion engines to work with hydrogen.
Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles harness the gas to generate electricity through a chemical reaction with oxygen in the fuel cell. The electricity generated powers an electric motor that propels the vehicle.
An advantage of this kind of application is that the only by-product of the chemical reaction is water, making it a zero emissions technology. It also offers similar performance and range to conventional gasoline vehicles, with the added benefit of fast refuel times.
Buses, trucks and forklifts are being developed by a number of manufacturers, harnessing this technology, with Luxfer Gas Cylinders designing and supplying bespoke hydrogen fuel systems.
However, a challenge within the transport sector is that operators have in the past decade invested in assets powered by fossil fuel whose lifespan exceeds carbon reduction targets, such as train and ship builders. In this case, retrofitting as a route to embedding hydrogen technology is an appealing option.
At Luxfer Gas Cylinders, the ratio of design and engineering resource to conversions versus new build hydrogen systems is around 50/50, and this isn’t expected to change in the next few years.
The benefit of retrofitting is that it’s possible to convert battery electric or diesel engines to hydrogen fuel systems relatively quickly and bring a product to market within months. Meanwhile, it might take a major manufacturer three years to get a prototype hydrogen vehicle on the road.
Specifically, dual fuel combinations offer a medium-term solution that will wean operators from fossil fuels to clean gas, while providing a safety net that appeals to the heavy-duty transport sector.
Live projects Luxfer Gas Cylinders has lent its hydrogen fuel systems expertise to include:
- A fleet of zero-emission refuse trucks with Netherlands and Belgium-based sustainable vehicle manufacturer E-Trucks Europe
- The UK’s first mass produced hydrogen-electric truck, in a historic milestone with Tevva Hydrogen Electric Trucks
- Taking hydrogen to the skies via drone technology with Intelligent Energy
- The UK’s first hydrogen train, HydroFLEX, which was showcased at COP26 in Glasgow
- The Hydrocat 48 – the world’s first hydrogen-powered Crew Transfer Vessel (CTV), featuring a 27-cylinder dual fuel system, which meets demand from wind farm operators to be as green as possible by reducing the emissions of their daily operation by up to 80%.
What is impacting hydrogen adoption?
The widespread adoption of hydrogen is hinged on the development of fuelling infrastructure and availability of the gas, with companies and investors seeking reassurance on the role of this gas in order to realise the huge potential of hydrogen to decarbonise the transport sector.
As a world-leading cylinder manufacturer, with an 80-year legacy in gas storage and more than 20 years of experience providing hydrogen fuel systems, Luxfer is proud to be partnering with organisations that are innovating in this space.
Operators in this market are seeking lightweight and higher pressure solutions, alongside reliability and safety, which are cornerstones of Luxfer Gas Cylinders’ products.
To learn more about the alternative fuel solutions available contact: LGCN-AF-Sales@Luxfer.com