The world’s first small-series production line for hydrogen fuelling stations has been opened in Vienna, bringing widespread use of fuel-cell cars one step closer.
Launched by the Linde Group, the world’s largest industrial gas company, the new facility comes at a time when first global car makers move towards mass production of fuel-cell vehicles.
Toyota unveiled its fuel-cell powered prototype last month and plans to start selling the vehicle in 2015. Hyundai, Honda and Daimler all have their stakes in the emerging fuel cell car business and are expected to launch their series-produced models in the next years.
"The successful commercialisation of fuel-cell cars hinges on a sufficiently widespread hydrogen infrastructure," said Professor Aldo Belloni, member of the Executive Board of Linde AG. "The development of small-series production capabilities is a key milestone on this journey. It gives us the flexibility we need to meet rising demand in different markets.”
During the ceremony, Linde announced it has signed its first deal to supply 28 hydrogen fuelling stations with ionic compressors to Iwatani Corporation, a Japanese alternative fuelling infrastructure pioneer. First of the stations went on stream today in Amagasaki near Osaka.
Unlike conventional piston-operated compressors, Linde's IC 90 works with liquid salts. Because these ionic liquids do not have a vapour pressure, they do not evaporate or mix with the hydrogen gas. They also eliminate mechanical wear-and-tear and sealing problems inside the cylinders. In addition, the IC 90 increases energy efficiency. Equipped with a sophisticated safety system and remote diagnosis and maintenance capabilities, the IC 90 meets all fuelling standards to ensure safe, silent fuelling and can achieve a pressure of 1,000 bar (14,500 psi) if required.
Gerhard Roiss, Chairman of the Executive Board and CEO of OMV AG, who attended the launch event, commented. "In order to effectively transition to cleaner sources of energy, we now need second-generation renewable innovations, and not first-generation subsidies.
“This first series production facility for hydrogen fuelling stations marks an important milestone on our way towards the widespread use of hydrogen-powered vehicles."
Experts believe fuel-cell vehicles will soon become a viable alternative to electromobiles for customers seeking environmentally friendly options. By 2018, tens of thousands of fuel-cell powered cars are expected to be travelling on European roads.
Germany-headquartered Linde will be selling the new hydrogen fuelling stations under its Clean Technology label.