Automotive industry

Commentary: Explore hydrogen-related opportunities in the automotive industry

With energy carriers poised to diversify and hydrogen poised to play a key role in mobility, Sean Crespin of HORIBA MIRA, Head of Global Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Strategy, discusses some companies exploring the breadth of applications of this technology.

Interest and activity around hydrogen has accelerated over the past 24 months, accelerated by the publication of numerous national hydrogen strategies globally. To date, 20 countries – collectively accounting for 70% of global GDP – have announced hydrogen strategies. The UK released its in August 2021 and predicts that hydrogen will provide between 20% and 35% of the country’s total energy use by 2050. It confirms a strategic focus on transport transformation – covering heavy goods vehicles, buses, trains and aviation – alongside heating for homes and businesses.

The Apricale by Viritech is one of the world’s first hydrogen hypercars

It is clear that hydrogen will play an important role in the decarbonisation of mobility and industry, and will constitute a substantial part of the energy mix by 2050. Although more work is needed to develop the refueling infrastructure Appropriately, with tougher regulations, growing global pressures to decarbonise and rising fuel prices, hydrogen technologies are becoming more and more attractive.

Forward-thinking automakers are ready already and are developing mobility applications that harness the benefits of hydrogen, which enables short refueling times and delivers more energy on board to take vehicles even further. A group of them are emerging in the West Midlands at MIRA Technology Park (MTP). More than 40 key players in the zero carbon mobility revolution are using this Warwickshire base, with a growing number focusing on hydrogen solutions or fuel cell technology and exploring applications beyond trucks.

Innervated Vehicle Engineering is one such company and operates in the light commercial vehicle (LGV) industry. Currently there are 2.5 million diesel vans on UK roads, but few options for fleets to switch to emissions-free vehicles that can cost-effectively handle the grueling daily demands of a payload of 1.5 tonnes and the 600 km of transitory routes in the delivery sector – a requirement that exceeds the capabilities of today’s battery-powered solutions.

Innervated Vehicle Engineering’s IndiGo zero-emission high-speed line

However, Innovate UK has developed IndiGo, a zero-emission high-speed line with a modular hydrogen fuel cell transmission. The solution is OEM independent, providing the flexibility to choose a fuel cell hardware supplier or subassemblies without compatibility issues. Its low operating costs and expected 15-year lifecycle (128% longer than the average diesel van) add to the appeal, as do sustainability initiatives such as the use of micro-manufacturing techniques to low consumption of energy and hemp in the construction of body panels.

As Toyota and Hyundai wave the flag for passenger FCEVs with the Mirai and NEXO, at the other end of the scale companies like Viritech are illustrating the potential of hydrogen in the hypercar market.

In addition to the advanced use cases of hydrogen deliveries, the technology may also offer performance advantages in the hypercar segment. A true technical showcase, the revolutionary Apricale by Viritech is one of the first hydrogen hypercars in the world. With engineering roots in motorsport and Formula 1, the Apricale delivers the same performance as the fastest BEV hypercars with outstanding performance at midrange and from scratch, but is about half the vehicle mass of a BEV and is comparable to the lightest ICE hypercars.

It features a patent-pending hydrogen graphene pressure tank which is used as a structural component of the unibody chassis, contributing to its 1: 1 power-to-weight ratio. This is complemented by the proprietary, patent-pending “Tri-Volt” vehicle control and energy management technology that is at the heart of the hydrogen powertrain solution.

While Viritech’s solutions will be applicable to the heavy-duty, aerospace, marine and power generation sectors, they demonstrate that hydrogen has the potential to be a larger-scale solution for applications in the automotive and transportation industries.

It’s an exciting and inspiring time for the industry and for MTP’s Hydrogen Technology Hub, which is fast becoming a thriving site for next-generation mobility companies. Known for its comprehensive R&D services, MTP helps these companies accelerate the large-scale adoption of zero-emission green hydrogen, first for the mobility sector, but while also integrating into the ecosystem. of hydrogen connected in the United Kingdom.

Hydrogen technology pole of the MIRA technology park (MTP)

Interest and rapid growth initiated the installation of a green supply yard with the support of Octopus Hydrogen and Octopus Renewables. The production of hydrogen on site will be sufficient to supply 60 cars with green hydrogen per day. In addition, the EV charging points will bolster the 70 already on site, powered by a specially designed 7 MW ground-based solar generator.

The new facility will support the rapidly growing group of companies that use it for the design, development and validation of these breakthrough solutions that push the diversity, scope and breadth of hydrogen applications in the industry. mobility and set the agenda for what is to come.