One of the fears that critics cite when talking about moving from a petroleum based transportation infrastructure to a hydrogen infrastructure is that somehow Big Oil will transform itself into Big Hydrogen and that the consumer will be no better off than before.
The problem with this thinking is that the big oil companies are not the only players in town. There are also large industrial specialty gas companies that produce hydrogen such as Air Products, Air Liquide and Linde who all have set up prototype and commercial hydrogen refueling stations for H2 cars.
Currently, Air Products has built over 85 mobile and stationary hydrogen refueling stations that operate in such places in the U. S. as California, Nevada, Tennessee, Arizona, New York, New Mexico, Florida and Washington, DC. Globally, Air Products stations are in China, South Korea, Singapore and Germany and ten other countries.
Air Products, during the current Hydrogen Road Tour 2008 has also opened up a hydrogen fueling station in Allentown, Pennsylvania at the company’s main U. S. research facility. The company has over 66,000 hydrogen powered vehicle refuelings to date and is one of the more likely candidates to give the oil companies a run for their money in setting up a nationwide network of H2 stations.
Air Liquide, on the other hand, is based in Paris, France and has their major U. S. research facility in Newark, Delaware. In fact, also as part of the Hydrogen Road Trip ’08, Air Liquide has opened up a hydrogen refueling station at this facility.
Air Liquide has over 30 mobile or stationary hydrogen refueling stations around the world including several 10,000 psi stations that help hydrogen cars equipped with suitable high pressure tanks achieve a range of over 300 miles.
Linde North America, which is part of the Linde Group based in Germany, is one of the world’s largest suppliers of hydrogen, and is especially active in Europe. Yesterday Linde sponsored a ride and drive as part of the 2008 Hydrogen Road Tour at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, NJ.
Linde is also following the BMW Hydrogen 7 luxury car around the Hydrogen Road Tour circuit with its mobile refueling unit filled with liquid hydrogen. A supplier of both cryogenic and gaseous hydrogen, Linde has built 70 hydrogen stations in 15 different countries and has over 120,000 hydrogen car refuelings to its credit. Praxair is another major industrial gas company worth mentioning as well.
So, you see the leaders in the field of building hydrogen refueling stations is not the big oil companies as many people think, it’s the large established specialty gas companies. One can only expect this trend to continue and expand as demand for hydrogen will continue to rise in the weeks, months and years to come.