Hydrogen as an eco-friendly, flexible energy carrier sits pride of place in Linde’s clean technology portfolio. It’s nothing new to us – in fact, we have over 100 years of experience working with the gas. During the course of the last 25 years however, we have ramped up our efforts in using hydrogen as a fuel. We now provide innovative solutions covering everything from production, storage and distribution to dispenser manufacturing, fuelling stations and infrastructures for fleet applications like BeeZero. Why? Because we believe hydrogen presents an opportunity. An opportunity for a more flexible, more sustainable energy system. An opportunity for a better world in the future.
We do our part to realise this vision by providing both the technology and the know-how to enable hydrogen applications. Projects like BeeZero offer you the opportunity to join us on this journey: a journey where we not only take from our environment but also give back in kind.
"BeeZero brings the benefits of fuel-cell technology to a much wider group of potential users. We expect to gain valuable information from day-to-day operations, which we will use to further develop our hydrogen technologies and expand the H2 infrastructure."
Dr. Christian Bruch, member of the Linde AG Executive Board
Hydrogen versus fossil fuels
Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe. On Earth’s surface it exists mainly in the form of natural gas and other organic compounds, and of course, H2O – or water. Organic compounds such as biogas or biomass are renewable, and our water cycle keeps the water coming. So we don’t need to worry about hydrogen resources ever running out – a huge advantage over fossil fuels.
There is one important distinction though: unlike fossil fuels, hydrogen is an energy carrier, not an energy source. In that sense it is a bit like electricity. Therefore, hydrogen must be produced; and produced in as sustainable a way as possible.
Towards the green production of hydrogen
When speaking of hydrogen production, we are really speaking of ways to extract it from the compounds in which it naturally occurs – known as feedstocks. There are different methods to do that.
Conventional production uses fossil feedstocks (mostly natural gas) and the steam reforming process. As an alternative, there is green hydrogen production. This involves the use of renewable feedstocks like biomass or biogas as well as electrolysis of water. Importantly, the energy required for such processes comes from renewable sources such as wind, solar, etc. Therefore, these methods lead to a sustainable production of hydrogen.
Linde produces hydrogen using both conventional and, increasingly, green methods. We are, for example, a project partner of “Energiepark Mainz” – the largest green hydrogen production plant in the world. Here, wind-generated electricity is used for the electrolysis of water. In fact, we are now in a position where we can easily provide all of our customers in the mobility sector with certified green hydrogen.
Fuelling hydrogen mobility
So how do hydrogen-powered fuel-cell vehicles actually run? In a nutshell, the fuel cell converts the chemical energy in the stored gas to electrical energy via an electrochemical process. Not only that, it also does so extremely efficiently. 9 litres of water can yield 1 kilogram of hydrogen. That 1 kilogram contains 33 kilowatt hours of energy. The fuel cell translates this energy into a range of around 100 kilometres! The electricity then powers the motor as well as all other energy guzzlers such as the electronics.
Like any other vehicle, hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles therefore require access to fuelling stations. Equipping such stations is a key area of Linde’s expertise which also involves distribution and storage as essential links in the supply chain. Our innovations in corresponding technologies set the industry standard for safe, reliable and efficient fuelling. We equip more fuelling stations worldwide than any other provider.
One area of mobility that lends itself particularly well to hydrogen fuel is fleet applications – many of which are already in operation around the world. Whether it be city buses in San Francisco, car sharing in Munich or indeed forklift trucks in a car manufacturing plant, such applications can yield a maximum reduction in CO2 with only a minimum number of fuelling stations.
Giving back to the environment
All hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles have one thing in common: zero-emissions – apart from water vapour. That’s right; the only emission of a hydrogen-powered engine is the stuff we drink, we bathe in and we require for survival. So although we have come to the end of the road in the hydrogen cycle, we find ourselves back where we started: the environment. We take hydrogen from the universe, but we end up giving back in kind.
We are committed to this model and will continue to partner with those who aspire to get hydrogen projects off the ground. Much work is still to be done. The share of green hydrogen must further increase from where it is today. On top of that, people must be given the opportunity to get on board. This is exactly the goal of BeeZero. For those who share our vision, they can now live it. Together we can move towards sustainable mobility.