BOC takes a look at the many and varied uses of hydrogen in the modern world and how we’re embracing it.

The annual global Shell Eco-marathon (SEM) returns to London (May 25-28) for the second time, showing just how far hydrogen has come as a fuel source in recent years. It’s one of the 7 fuel categories the students compete in and growing in popularity.

We look at what else is happening right now – from using the gas to power bikes and buses to innovative partnerships.

Getting around

The Centre for Future Studies believes there could be as many as 1.6 million hydrogen fuel cell vehicles on Britain’s roads by 2030. As hydrogen is a zero-emissions fuel, it would have a huge impact on air quality.

Here are some of the hydrogen-fuelled products currently make waves:

  • Public car fuelling stations: The Linde Group (which BOC is member of) helped create public fuelling stations for hydrogen cars, including Munich’s CEP/Total cryo pump station, Vienna’s OMV station – Austria’s first public hydrogen fuelling station – and Shanghai’s first hydrogen fuelling station for both cars and buses.
  • Car hire: BeeZero® is the world’s largest hydrogen-powered car sharing scheme. Running in Munich, it has 50 cars, which have a range of 400km and can hold up to 5 people.
  • The Aberdeen hydrogen bus project: BOC’s flagship hydrogen project provides both Europe’s largest hydrogen bus fleet and the largest hydrogen fuelling station in the UK.
  • Bus fuelling stations: In Milan, the ATM station is Italy’s first hydrogen fuelling station for buses, while Hamburg’s CEP/Vattenfall station has capacity for a large fleet of up to 20 hydrogen buses.

Other uses

Hydrogen is such a versatile fuel source that it can be used in a variety of situations.

  • Energiepark Mainz, Germany: This world-leading park produces green hydrogen for mobility applications by using electrolysis with renewable energies – and it even powers the park itself! It has a storage capacity of 1,000kg.
  • BMW manufacture, Greer, USA: At this BMW plant, there are 14 hydrogen dispensers for hydrogen-fuelled material handling vehicles. These help fuel more than 380 vehicles, with fuelling times of just 3 minutes.

Working together

And while we’re working hard at BOC on reimagining hydrogen, we can’t do it alone.

To develop cutting edge solutions and concepts for hydrogen, we collaborate with ITM Power. As part of the partnership, BOC is supplying its parent company Linde’s key innovative hydrogen compression and dispensing technologies. This led to BOC & ITM Power being involved in Shell’s first hydrogen refuelling station in the UK – the first to be situated on a public forecourt in Cobham.

Rebecca Markillie, Marketing and Communications Manager at ITM Power said: “In our view, the combination of ITM Power’s electrolyser with Linde’s dispenser makes for a very compelling integrated refuelling station package.

“The technology partnership demonstrates best in class performance, footprint and cost; key requirements for deployment on existing fuel forecourts where space is limited.”

Other partnerships…

  • California Fuel Cell Partnership: BOC’s parent company Linde is part of this consortium of vehicle manufacturers, electric energy providers, technology companies and government agencies looking at fuel-cell vehicles, hydrogen fuelling station infrastructure and regulations in California.
  • Clean Energy Partnership: This initiative aims to test the suitability of hydrogen as a fuel for daily use in Germany.
  • H2 Mobility: Air Liquide, Daimler, Linde, OMV, Shell and Total united to provide 400 hydrogen fuelling stations in Germany by 2023.

Hydrogen at SEM

At the London race, part of Shell’s Make the Future Live public event, students will design vehicles that travel furthest on the equivalent of a single litre of fuel.

For the 7th consecutive year Linde is the official sponsor and technology expert for hydrogen at the event.  A team of experts on site are in charge of the complete technical scrutiny for all hydrogen fuel cell-powered competition vehicles. They’ll also manage the hydrogen cylinder logistics, provide technical support and advise the student teams using hydrogen both before and at the event.

But the event goes further than just the race – it’s about empowering the next generation of engineers to take on and master complex challenges, which we’ll touch upon in the final part of this blog series on the future of hydrogen.

See also: Hydrogen – the first 400 years 

Nick Power

Market Development Manager
Clean Fuels