Decarbonization with no compromise

At Hyzon Motors, we currently deploy hydrogen vehicles with up to 150kW fuel cell modules, while preparing for 370kW systems (equivalent to 500 horsepower) to be manufactured at our Rochester facility in New York. Our next-generation 500hp fuel cell systems are well suited to applications such as inter-city rail, mining vehicles, port equipment and marine vessels, as well as long haul and short haul heavy vehicles.

Several major enabling technology breakthroughs help Hyzon drive the decarbonization of heavy-duty applications with the right performance and unit economics:

Hyzon CORE TECHNOLOGIES MAKE IT HAPPEN

Hydrogen is the most abundant and lightest element in the universe and has the highest energy content of common fuels by weight, about three times more than diesel, natural gas or bioethanol. It is also extremely versatile: it can be transformed into electricity, used as a fuel for transportation, heating and cooling, but is mainly used in various industrial applications today.

Hydrogen can be produced in a number of different ways:

  • Gray hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels (natural gas or coal), a process which creates large amounts of CO2 emissions
  • Blue hydrogen is produced in the same way, but the carbon is captured and stored
  • Green hydrogen is produced from renewable energy sources via the electrolysis of water and is completely carbon free, or from other renewable sources like biomass

The hydrogen market is already a huge, US$135 billion, annual market – however, it is almost all gray hydrogen. We believe that clean hydrogen (green and blue) will play a key role in creating a clean, secure and affordable energy future, enabling countries and companies alike to realize their net zero targets. Today, a burgeoning global industry is taking shape to leverage hydrogen’s ability to be both an energy carrier and a clean fuel that can be stored and used later.

Hydrogen produced via electrolysis and hydrogen used in fuel cells is based on “reverse” chemical reactions. While electrolysis uses water and electricity to create hydrogen (H2) and oxygen (O2), fuel cells use hydrogen and oxygen to create electricity and water vapor. If the electricity used for electrolysis comes from renewable sources, then the whole chain from water to hydrogen to power does not emit any carbon.

Among the different applications for clean hydrogen, heavy duty transportation is particularly promising:

  • The value proposition for fuel cell technology and clean hydrogen as a fuel is more compelling for vehicles with long range requirements, high utilization, heavy payloads and the need for fast refueling
  • Heavy duty trucks and buses offer “return to base” refueling opportunities, which means the roll-out of clean hydrogen refueling stations is more efficient: you can build centralized infrastructure to improve economics
  • Heavy-duty trucks contribute disproportionally to emissions. For example, commercial trucks and buses represent about 10% of all long-haul vehicles in North America, yet contribute 33% of greenhouse gas emissions. In Europe, transport is responsible for nearly 30% of the EU’s total CO2 emissions, of which 72% comes from road transportation.

At Hyzon Motors, we believe large-scale deployment of clean hydrogen fuel cell mobility will be a key factor in reducing emissions, while at the same time fulfilling the operational requirements of heavy-duty road transport in terms of range, refueling time and payload capacity.

What is Hydrogen?

For decades, fuel cell developers the world over have faced significant challenges in achieving high power-density fuel cell stacks and, more specifically, achieving higher voltage performance at higher current densities (>2.0A/cm2). Several decades of combined research and development experience at Hyzon has helped to overcome these challenges and limitations to produce what are now the world’s highest power single module PEM fuel cell stacks.

Improvements in all fuel cell performance metrics such as gravimetric and volumetric power density have been worked on for over two decades, and achieved through advancements in materials and assemblies. Vertical integration of certain key materials ensures competitive and consistent production.

World’s Highest power-density PEM fuel cell stacks (recently validated by TUV Rheinland)

The core layer in any PEM fuel cell is the Membrane Electrode Assembly (MEA): all electrochemical reactions take place at the MEA level to generate power. It’s also the major cost contributor to the fuel cell, as it contains precious materials.

Hyzon has developed advanced cathode catalysts in-house and uses innovative functionalized ionomers and nanoengineered microporous layers to reduce the Platinum loading in the cathode catalyst layer. It is also developing novel membrane stabilizers to improve membrane lifetime without any trade off in performance or durability. By integrating these new capabilities, tests have shown Hyzon’s MEA outperformed the best-in-class third party catalyst in cell reversal tolerance by a factor of 1.6, highlighting the potential for enhanced freeze start-up capability.

Breakthroughs in high performance, advanced Membrane Electrode Assemblies (MEAs)

Although MEAs can be the center of attention, bipolar plates also play a key role in the fuel cell stack. Bipolar plates direct the flow of reactants to the MEA and help improve the performance  of high power-density fuel cells.

Hyzon’s unique metallic plate development came from the founding team’s deep engineering design and materials innovation knowledge. Surface engineered plates with advanced coating technology, integrated with superior nano materials, offer excellent durability against chemical and electrochemical corrosion. Advancement in producing such thin, high functional metallic bipolar plates integrated with advanced MEAs resulted in Hyzon being capable of manufacturing the world’s highest-powered fuel cell stacks (6kW/l as recorded by third party test authorities).

With Hyzon’s materials and engineering design advancements having aided considerably to produce high power-density fuel cell stacks, the stack operating strategy through system control will complement the materials advancement for the long life of Hyzon’s Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Breakthroughs in bipolar plates - reducing total module size and weight

Hyzon plans to improve throughput manufacturing by eliminating operational bottlenecks, deploying manufacturing automation techniques, reducing equipment downtime and boosting manufacturing safety.

The company has readied large scale roll-to-roll CCM and MEA manufacturing using state-of-the-art facilities and has also committed to implement next generation innovative coating technology which will help to reduce the cost of MEAs.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) will also be applied in certain areas to optimize manufacturing throughput. These factors will aid in producing high power fuel cell stacks at lower costs.

Continuous manufacturing for global scalability

The production, transport and industrial use of hydrogen are well established industries with long track records involving major multi-national companies like Air Liquide, Linde and Praxair.

Hydrogen is a flammable gas and, as with any other gas or fuel, requires appropriate safety measures at all times. It also demonstrates various positive characteristics: it is a non-toxic gas, is lighter than air so it disperses quickly if it leaks and it burns with low radiant heat.

At Hyzon, we ensure appropriate safety measures are in place at all stages, including production, transport, storage and of course within our vehicles and fuel cells. When planning a hydrogen installation, we are very careful to implement the appropriate ventilation and leak detection equipment. We also integrate safety considerations in the design of our fuel cells and in the way we retrofit our trucks.

To avoid current common misconceptions about hydrogen, we encourage you to read Hydrogen safety: busting the myth that hydrogen is more dangerous than gas by Hydrogen Fuel News.

Sources:

  • IPCC report
  • Goldman Sachs report: “Carbonomics – The Rise of Clean Hydrogen”, July 2020

Hydrogen safety

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