Hyundai Making Big Hydrogen Push With Cheaper Fuel Cells For Trucks, Drones And Sports Car

Hyundai is developing technology for a hydrogen-powered Trailer Drone, a nonpolluting, robotic truck.

Hyundai Motor

Hyundai Motor, which is readying a new line of battery-powered vehicles, says hydrogen is essential for cutting carbon emissions from transportation, especially heavy-duty trucks, and intends to roll out a cheaper, smaller fuel cell system to power every commercial vehicle model it makes—as well as drones, emergency vehicles, homes, trains, ships and a sports car. 

The Korean industrial giant, which has previously committed billions of dollars to commercialize hydrogen-powered trucks, said it will introduce a next-generation fuel cell system in 2023 that’s 50% cheaper, 30% smaller and twice as powerful as the current version. Every truck, bus and commercial vehicle it produces will also be offered with a fuel cell powertrain by 2028, and the company said its hydrogen-power system will reach cost parity with battery packs by 2030.

“Countries and companies are developing feasible carbon-neutral solutions to help combat global warming. Hyundai Motor Group’s solution to this problem is to encourage a shift in the energy paradigm to hydrogen,” Group Chairman Euisun Chung said today in a video presentation. “Hydrogen is a powerful solution to combating climate change.” 

Hyundai joins automotive and trucking rivals including Toyota, Hino, General Motors, Daimler, Volvo, Cummins and newer upstarts such Nikola and Hyzon in lining up behind hydrogen as a better electric-vehicle option for heavy, long-range vehicles than batteries owing to weight savings and faster refueling. Yet big challenges remain: the technology has to overcome high costs for fuel cells stacks and hydrogen tanks that make the vehicles more expensive than those powered by carbon-based fuels or batteries. Additionally, the supply of “green” hydrogen fuel sourced from renewable energy and water, or sourced from waste materials, needs to expand dramatically to ensure maximum carbon reduction. 

Hyundai’s next-generation fuel cell modules are 50% cheaper, 30% smaller and twice as powerful as its current version.

Hyundai Motor

Fuel-cell and battery-powered vehicles are both electric, sharing the same motors and many other components. The key difference is batteries store electricity and fuel cells make it onboard as needed, in an electrochemical process that extracts electrons from hydrogen forced through fuel-cell membranes. Aside from electricity, the only byproduct is water vapor. Beyond cars and trucks, they’ve been used by NASA for decades, they work as stationary electricity generators and are being developed to power trains and even ships and ferries. 

Hyundai’s big hydrogen push follows plans by Toyota to start making fuel cell modules at its Georgetown, Kentucky, plant in 2023 for use in commercial vehicles, and Nikola’s fuel cell partnership with Bosch that includes making the power units at the company’s new Arizona plant, also in 2023. General Motors plans to make its “Hydrotec” fuel cells for trucks at a factory in Michigan in a partnership that includes Honda. 

Its new fuel cell modules will be produced in 100- and 200-kilowatt variations. It also wants to use the technology for “trams, trains, ships and urban air mobility,” Chung said and exploring options to use hydrogen for non-transportation applications including home and building power systems and in power plants. Hyundai said in late 2018 it would spend nearly $7 billion on efforts to commercialize hydrogen technology, aiming to produce hundreds of thousands of vehicles powered by the fuel annually by 2030.

During the video presentation, Chung showed off a hydrogen-powered, autonomous Trailer Drone, the company’s idea for a clean, robotic truck. Hyundai is working on concepts for emergency vehicles, a rescue drone and the Vision FK, a future high-performance, rear-wheel-drive sports car that accelerates from 0-60 mph in under four seconds. 

“We have long understood the tremendous potential of hydrogen energy, so over the past 20 years we have devoted significant resources and talents to developing hydrogen-based technologies,” Chung said. “Our vision is to apply hydrogen energy in all areas of life and industry.”

The Vision FK concept sports car.

Hyundai Motor

via Energy News

Categories: Energy