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Energy Cast Podcast: EVs could run on hydrogen

Fedex
In addition to forklifts, Plug Power Hydrogen Fuel Cells have been installed in large fleet vehicles like this FedEx truck. The truck was delivered without a battery pack, and Plug Power did the rest.

Energy Cast is a podcast featuring some of the top experts across all links in the energy industry chain, including electric vehicles, renewables, generation and more! Jay Dauenhauer created the show and has been hosting Energy Cast for several years.

Click below to listen to the full episode:

Hydrogen Fuel Cells have a lot of potential.  They provide clean, carbon-free energy, they are affordable, high energy density, and can be refueled quickly.

My guest, Plug Power President & CEO Andy Marsh, believes the path to quick Hydrogen Fuel Cell adoption lies in fleets.  Since 1997, he says Plug Power has built nearly 90 fuel cell infrastructures.  Some of their clients include BMW, Sysco, Walmart, and FedEx.

“If you have large-scale fleets, and you can put hydrogen infrastructure in place, fueling would be cost effective,” he says.  “The infrastructure for 10 units is often the same as the infrastructure for 150 units.”

In the case of warehouses with large fleets of forklifts, Andy says Plug’s team can retrofit an existing forklift in less than 30 minutes.  They have a wide selection of fuel cells to fit different sizes of vehicles, including large delivery trucks.

In those cases, like FedEx, an electric vehicle is delivered without a conventional lithium-ion battery.  The Hydrogen Fuel Cell is then added to the truck.

To refuel, an operator simply pulls the vehicle up to one of Plug Power’s stations, usually located inside the warehouse.  The dispenser looks a lot like a gas station pump.  Andy says third-party handling of this equipment has a lot of safeguards.

“Even if there’s a leakage―which could be much lower than any level of hydrogen that could cause problems―the system would shut down.”  He also adds that while gasoline pools when spilled, leaking hydrogen immediately dissipates into the atmosphere.

Rather than  natural gas reforming, which is how most H2 is made, Andy says they procure most of their hydrogen from “Chlor Alkali waste streams,” or captured hydrogen from a plastics plant.

He adds that the hydrogen from this process is liquefied using hydroelectric power.  “By 2030, I suspect about 50% of the hydrogen used as fuel will come from traditional green renewable sources,” he says, “and ultimately maybe nuclear power plants.” (This podcast originally aired in September 2019.)

Dauenhauer is a member of the DISTRIBUTECH International advisory committees. Clarion Energy is the parent company of DISTRIBUTECH.

We have postponed DISTRIBUTECH to March 30-April 1, 2021 and plan to hold it in conjunction with POWERGEN International in Orlando, Florida.


Energy Cast Podcast is hosted biweekly by Jay Dauenhauer.

Learn more about the podcast here.

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