HYDROGEN: THE MOST PROMISING ENERGY TECHNOLOGY
Hydrogen, the planetary system’s most abundant element, and one of the two constituent elements of water, H2O is increasingly being recognized as the fuel of the future. We are involved with several technology companies, research projects and organizations in the development and deployment of hydrogen technologies.
CANADA’S HYDROGEN SECTOR
We view Canada as the silicon valley of hydrogen fuel cell technology. Two of Canada’s hydrogen technology leaders, Vancouver’s Ballard Technology and Toronto’s Hydrogenics, have for decades dominated global hydrogen electrolizer and fuel cell technology. As a result, Canada has been able to develop and support a diverse and complex ecosystem of hydrogen technology including universities, entrepreneuer and institutions. Wasser Resources Inc. is active with the Hydrogen Business Council.
Hydrogen can be produced in a number of ways but the most sustainable way to generate hydrogen is through the electrolysis of water. This hydrogen can be stored in liquid or gaseous form in steel or composite tanks for transport to where needed.
HYDROGEN STORAGE AND TRANSPORTATION
Hydrogen can be stored in a safe liquid or gaseous form in steel or composite material storage tanks of various shapes and sizes for long periods of time. It is not affected significantly by cold or hot temperatures and thus is suited to all climatic environments.
In that sense hydrogen is a ideal energy storage medium, since unlike lithium ion or other power storage media, hydrogen does not degrade and loses energy either over time or through repeated usage.
Once contained in a safe vessel, hydrogen can be transported over long distances. It is a relatively dense yet light form of energy storage so shipment by flight or by boat is not a significant obstacle. Once delivered, hydrogen fuel cell be immediately deployed for use to generate power and fuel vehicles.
Hydrogen is used to generate power through the use of fuel cells. There are several designs for fuel cells, and much of this research and development for fuel cell advancement is taking place in university campuses and at hydrogen technology companies across Canada including Vancouver based Ballard Technologies and Mississauga based Hydrogenics.
Hydrogen-based energy is for both stationary power generation and for the transportation sector.
Stored hydrogen can be transported easily and safely wherever required to produce power where needed. In many cases, hydrogen is the ideal replacement for diesel fuel and diesel generators since hydrogen produces no noxious fumes, other pollutants or greenhouses gases (GHG).
As a young industry, the market potential for hydrogen energy is still in the early stages of market exploration and development. Canada is the global centre for hydrogen technology research, development and commercialization. Consequently, Canada is also the place that the potential application for hydrogen technologies is most actively being explored and expanded. The Hydrogen Business Council of Canada was created is to help guide and lead the quest for the development and maximization of all the various applications and market opportunities.
Distribution Centres: Hydrogen is an excellent alternative to the use of electric rechargeable batteries and propane power for distribution centre forklifts. Unlike batteries which need a considerable period of time to charge, hydrogen powered forklifts can refuel in minutes. Similarly, hydrogen is more desirable than propane because fuel cells emits no fumes – only breathable oxygen. Hydrogen has already been adopted by several Canadian distribution centres. For these facilities, the hydrogen is produced on-site by Next Hydrogen for immediate use or stored for when required.
The mining sector is definitely a great place to adapt hydrogen power. Most mine sites are remote and require the shipment of both diesel generators and an ongoing supply of polluting and costly diesel fuel to supply both the diesel generator sets and diesel powered vehicles of all types, both above ground and underground. Hydrogen can be produced local to a mine using renewable power generation through any combination of solar photovoltaics, wind turbines, run-of-river immersed hydroelectric turbines of ocean wave powered turbines. The clean renewable power is used by an electrolysis process to produce the hydrogen which is stored in appropriate containers for use by mine vehicles or for power production when the renewable power sources cannot satisfy the mines needs.
Trucking: The Ontario Environment Commissioner in 2018 reported that large truck transport was the exception to the declining Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emission patterns in Ontario and are gradually becoming a dominant source of pollutants due to their heavy reliance on high emission diesel fuels. The opportunity to convert a fraction of the trucking industry to hydrogen would generate significant climate change benefits to the environment.
Trains and Transit: Canadian companies are making huge contributions to the transitioning of trains, buses and street cars across Europe and in China to clean reliable hydrogen fuel cell technology.
Cars: Over the past several years we have seen the gradual success of the electric vehicle market in Canada, with increases in both the number of vehicles and the growing deployment of EV charging infrastructure across Canada, especially in Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia. Hydrogen has some catching up to do since there are very few hydrogen fueling points or vehicles in Canada. In order jurisdictions like Japan and South Korea, there is rapid growth in the application of hydrogen for cars. California, the anchor of the west coast Hydrogen Highway that extends up to BC, a region leading the path to a hydrogen energy future, is currently embarking on a major plan to develop a network of hydrogen fueling stations spanning the state.
Canada continues to contribute to the development of almost all these technologies. The Hydrogen Business Council of Canada is forging a future for the industry for the entire planet.
ARTICLES ABOUT HYDROGEN
- Hydrogen for Distribution Centre Forklifts: Inside Logistics Magazine, June 2018
- Hydrogen: An Ideal Power Source for Remote Mines; Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal, Sept. 2017