State Farm to Insure Hyundai Fuel Cell Vehicles

The rollout of the 2015 Hyundai ix35 Tucson Fuel Cell SUV in the U. S. has been delayed until late May 2014 and this will give the manufacturer extra times to find additional insurance carriers for their vehicle. At this moment, however, State Farm Insurance is the first carrier that has agreed to issue policies to cover the drivers of the Hyundai fuel cell vehicles.

This simplifies the process greatly as insurance companies, in general, are not required to cover all makes and models of vehicles and so customers won’t have to search dozens of carriers for the right coverage. Hyundai has stated that up to 100 ix35 fuel cell vehicles will roll out in Southern California by the end of 2014.

The ix35 Tucson Fuel Cell is being offered for a three year lease with a $2,999 down payment and $499 per month. This deal includes free hydrogen fuel and maintenance for the term of the lease.

According to, “The transaction at the dealership will be handled similar to any other lease deal with two exceptions: Buyers will be selected and prescreened by Hyundai before they enter the dealership, and auto insurance will be limited to the companies approved by the automaker.

“Initially, sales will be limited to three Hyundai dealers in the Los Angeles area where six refueling stations are located. Next year sales will be expanded to the San Francisco area, followed by Sacramento and San Diego in 2016. Sales will not begin until the hydrogen-refueling network is completed in those geographic areas.”


50 Hydrogen Fueling Stations Confirmed for Germany

By 2015, 50 hydrogen fueling stations have been confirmed for Germany for both the metropolitan areas and major roadways. Compare this to California which right now, has 9 public hydrogen fueling stations open and 19 in development. In addition, California intends to have 100 hydrogen fueling stations open by 2023.

But, Germany has clearly taken a leadership position in building out its hydrogen infrastructure. According to NOW, “At the Hanover Industrial Fair, the leaders of the initiatives, who bring together the interests of almost 30 top companies, institutes and associations, are signing a declaration confirming this commitment: over the next 10 years, 300 companies from the automotive and supply industry, energy supply, specialty chemicals as well as machine and equipment manufacturers, plan to invest more than two billion euro for the market activation of a sustainable, secure and profitable hydrogen mobility. From 2023 a self-sustaining market can be achieved …

“…Supported through the National Innovation Programme for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology (NIP), the Clean Energy Partnership (CEP) is pursuing the goal of providing a total of 50 hydrogen refuelling stations in German metropolitan regions and along the main motorways by 2015. The development of the hydrogen refuelling station network accompanies the commercialization of fuel cell vehicles. The participating companies and the federal government are investing over 40 million euro in this.”

And if you’d like to see a map of the distribution of hydrogen fueling stations in Germany, go to the NOW website.

Radical Hydrogen Racecar Developed by Students

Students at Cranfield University (just north of London, UK) will be converting a new Radical RXC racecar to run on hydrogen fuel. At the end of the project the hydrogen powered prototype will run laps to prove the modifications have worked.

According to Cranfield University, “The project has been designed in anticipation of a hydrogen economy and with the Motorsport Industry Association (MIA) Technology Road Map in mind. The work is supported by Radical Sportscars, Aerocom Metals and several other organisations …

“…The project requires close integration between powertrain modelling and new chassis design – linking real data from Radical and Ford Ecoboost engines with new materials and structural improvements. Students are designing and undertaking their own physical tests of materials and current car components to validate their simulations. On top of this the solutions must consider cost and safety and still perform well.”

One of the biggest challenges is figuring out how to fit the Radical with its tight, compact aerodynamic design with the necessary hydrogen components. Simulated laps will be run from Cadwell Park full circuit and the Silverstone National Circuit.

Relevant References


Fuel Cells for Forklifts Food Trucks and Airport Vehicles

The rise of fuel cell vehicles has not started with the car market as many had predicted. The number of hydrogen powered forklifts has surged in the marketplace over the past 3 years. And now, Plug Power wants to put their fuel cells into a couple other types of vehicles as well.

According to Bloomberg, “Forklifts for the $20 billion material-handling market were never Chief Executive Officer Andrew Marsh’s ultimate goal. The ambition is to create an industrial ecosystem powered by fuel cells — with forklifts as the first product to generate enough revenue to support the company …

“…Current trucks use cooling systems powered by diesel generators, which often must run even when the vehicles are parked. That can be a problem because some cities have noise ordinances aimed at restricting idling trucks.

“Plug is working with the largest North American food distributor, Sysco Corp., and other existing customers and plans to demonstrate the systems this year … Plug is also developing fuel cells to power the vehicles that haul luggage, move planes and provide other support services at airports.”

So, there you have it. We may not be at the planes, trains and automobiles phase yet. But, every fuel cell vehicle counts and helps us drive into a cleaner, greener future.

NREL Helping with New Hydrogen Infrastructure

Robot testing a hydrogen hose

DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is helping to build out the burgeoning hydrogen car infrastructure. Yesterday I talked about the DOE (Department of Energy) and how their PNNL division was helping with similar efforts.

But the NREL is taking a different angle at the issues. According to the NREL, “NREL hydrogen researchers are working with auto manufacturers, component vendors, and others to take a hard look at both the infrastructure and the cost challenges. NREL’s new ESIF includes 7,000 square feet of lab space built for hydrogen and fuel cell research. Approximately 50 researchers contribute to hydrogen or fuel cell related tasks, including production, storage, codes and standards, technology validation, and analysis.

“Researchers at NREL are examining the best ways to create hydrogen via electrolysis using wind and solar power. The most common way to produce hydrogen today is through steam reforming of natural gas—a tried-and-true approach, but one that generates greenhouse gases.

“Just a few months ago, the Energy Department’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office, within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, which supports NREL’s research at the ESIF, announced more than $7 million for projects in Georgia, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee that will help bring cost-effective, advanced hydrogen and fuel cell technologies to market faster. In the past five years, fuel cell durability has doubled; since 2005, the amount of expensive platinum needed in fuel cells has fallen by 80%, according to the Energy Department.

“Pivovar predicts that hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will take off first on islands such as Hawaii or Japan where a car can’t get too far away from the nearest refueling station and fuel costs are often higher, and metropolises such as Los Angeles where smog provides an extra incentive for clean engines …

“… NREL is analyzing the barriers and costs associated with installing enough hydrogen refueling stations to make fuel cell vehicles viable. One intriguing shortcut is to use existing natural gas lines to distribute hydrogen. Studies are exploring limiting hydrogen concentrations to less than 15% of the gas in the lines to avoid issues such as hydrogen embrittlement and to reduce the high capital costs of installing completely independent infrastructure.”

Another way that NREL is helping is by testing the quality of the hoses used at hydrogen fueling stations to refuel vehicles. With the use of robotics (pictured at top) NREL is testing the quality, durability and safety of the hoses.

Here’s a nifty 2:46 video showing the robot being put through its paces. This also brings to mind if there will ever come a time when robots such as this will be at the stations to refuel vehicles directly. I think a refueling robot based on smart technology will be just what the doctor (PhD) ordered. :)



H2USA is a public-private partnership pulled together to build and promote the hydrogen fueling infrastructure needed to roll out fuel cell vehicles over the next few years. And now the PNNL (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory) has joined the DOE (Department of Energy) consortium to help in this effort.

The last time I had talked about H2USA was on May 14, 2013. I talked about how the partnership included government, automakers, gas suppliers and hydrogen fuel cell companies coming together to build hydrogen fueling stations, production facilities and distribution lines.

Now, almost a year later, according to the PNNL, “Participants in H2USA are working together to create ways to deliver affordable hydrogen fuel safely. Drivers of gasoline-powered vehicles can go just about anywhere, confident a filling station will be nearby. The pipelines necessary to move gasoline around the country have existed for decades; gas stations on street corners are a common landmark, and the trucks that haul gasoline into each station’s tanks pass without notice.

“But the infrastructure required to do the same with hydrogen is in the very early stages. There are just a handful of hydrogen filling stations available to the public nationwide. Besides filling stations, planners need to consider factors such as how to move the fuel from the central manufacturing facilities to those stations.

“At the same time, several major automakers have plans to unveil fuel-cell-powered vehicles for sale in the next few years. Hyundai, Honda and Toyota are poised to sell fuel-cell cars within the next two years. The consortium is helping to create the infrastructure necessary so that drivers of those cars can be confident of a fill-up nearby.”

PNNL’s part in the partnership includes research, development and vast knowledge of hydrogen safety, tools, project testing, storage and production. PNNL’s contribution is expected to, in collaboration “set the direction” for growing the H2 infrastructure in the USA.


Mixed Reactant Fuel Cells May Be the Future

Mixed reactant fuel cells may be the future according to Mantra Energy Alternatives Ltd. Two advantages of this type of fuel cell are no expensive platinum will be used and there will be no membranes to foul.

According to CNN, “A version of Mantra’s ‘Mixed-Reactant Fuel Cell’ will be designed specifically for integration into vehicles of various types, with the objective of demonstrating a working prototype later this year.

“According to Mantra’s engineers, the advantage of the MRFC is the fact that it eliminates one of the most costly and failure-prone components of a conventional fuel cell, which is the membrane.

“The mixing of fuel and oxidant also allows for simplifications in reactant delivery and reactor manifolding, reducing the space required for the system. The MRFC was developed at the University of British Columbia for six years with very promising results, but has not yet been integrated into transportation applications.”

Mantra, a Canadian company, sees their invention as a possible ending to the use of expensive Nafion membranes and a move toward using hydrogen-rich liquids for fueling future cars.


SAE International Standardizes Smart Technology for Hydrogen Fueling Stations

The SAE International Fuel Cell Taskforce has come out with two technical standards (SAE J2602 and SAE J2799) that will help to standardize hydrogen fueling stations across the globe. The new standards will affect stations that dispense compressed hydrogen gas at 5,000 psi and 10,000 psi.

According to the SAE press release, “SAE J2601 defines parameters for a hydrogen fueling experience similar to conventional fueling and is considered one of the key Standards required for the commercialization of fuel cell vehicles and hydrogen stations.

“The SAE J2601 Standard enables safe, full hydrogen fast-fueling, 3-5 minutes, for all light duty FCEVs, including models with a range of 300 or more miles (500km+). Obtaining extended driving ranges with hydrogen fueling is accomplished by compressing hydrogen to 70MPa (or H70).”

As useful as the SAE J2601 standard is, the SAE J2799 is a bit more cutting edge as it uses Smart technology to achieve greater accuracy of fueling. SAE J2799 creates a wireless standard of communication between hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and fueling stations which will result in increased driving range.


Graphene Nanocage Holds Promise for Hydrogen Storage

Scientists at the University of Maryland have created a one-atom thick graphene nanocage that opens and closes to store hydrogen atoms. And the storage capacity of this nanocage already has exceeded Department of Energy’s goals.

According to Nanowerks, “Mechanical engineers Shuze Zhu and Teng Li have found that they can make tiny squares of graphene fold into a box, which will open and close itself in response to an electric charge.

“Inside the box, they’ve tucked hydrogen atoms, and have done so more efficiently than was thought possible. The U.S. Department of Energy is searching for ways to make storing energy with hydrogen a practical possibility, and they set up some goals: by 2017, the Department had hoped that a research team could pack in 5.5 percent hydrogen by weight, and that by 2020, it could be stretched to 7.5 percent.

“Li’s team has already crossed that threshold, with a hydrogen storage density of 9.5 percent hydrogen by weight. The team has also demonstrated the potential to reach an even higher density, a future research goal.”

The research team likens the procedure to paper origami in regard to creating complicated 3D structures from thin 2D materials. Hydro-gami, anyone? Or perhaps carbo-gami?


Honda’s Hydrogen Fueling Station Built by Air Products

In Torrance, California, Air Products has built their newest SmartFuel® hydrogen fueling station for cars at Honda’s R&D headquarters. The 10,000 psi station is being promoted as one of the most quickly built stations ever.

According to Air Products, “The new SmartFuel branded station provides hydrogen fueling at 700 bar (10,000 psi) and includes Air Products’ patented technology to practice the SAE J2601 fueling protocol.

“The station is modeled after Air Products’ ‘compressionless hydrogen fueling station.’ Air Products has available several SmartFuel fueling station concepts incorporating modular and expandable technology and holds an entire portfolio of global patents, with additional patents pending, related to the compressionless advancement …

“…Cars, trucks, vans, buses, scooters, forklifts, locomotives, planes, cell towers, material handling equipment, and even submarines have been fueled with trend-setting Air Products’ technologies.”

The company says it has benefitted from working within the forklift and materials handling marketplace with hydrogen fueling infrastructures for those facilities being built in as little as six weeks.


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