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The hydrogen automotive, new Eldorado?

If the rise of the battery-powered electrical automotive has begun, the automotive sector doesn’t fail to reward the virtues of this new gas promoted by the general public authorities. Let’s attempt to see extra clearly between ecological fantasy and industrial actuality.

From the start-up centered on technological innovation to the highest of the State, the discourse doesn’t range: hydrogen is the gas of the long run. And that may be nice, as a result of it could free us from our dependence on fossil fuels and the international locations that produce them. It will scale back our vitality invoice and purify the air we breathe. The primary element of the universe would even exist within the state of pure fuel.

Because the Nineteen Seventies, scientists have positioned them on the backside of the oceans and within the coronary heart of mountain ranges and rocks known as ophiolites. The soil of the Cotentin could be generously supplied with it. Hydrogen would kind at nice depth, rise in small molecules earlier than quickly accumulating a couple of hundred meters from the floor. It will then suffice to seize it earlier than it oxidizes on contact with air and turns into water. On paper, this appears easy however, up to now, just one Canadian firm based mostly in Mali is exploiting this chance industrially. The pure hydrogen “harvested” on this means produces the electrical energy utilized by the inhabitants of a village positioned 60 kilometers from Bamako.

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Pending the deployment of such a system on a world scale, the hydrogen that we hope to introduce into our vehicles have to be produced by man, or relatively extracted as a result of it’s most frequently related to different parts: oxygen in water (H2O) or carbon in methane (CH4). And that is the place the primary bother begins. Right this moment, 95% of the hydrogen we use is created from fossil assets. With this so-called “steam reforming” technique, the one one that’s at the moment worthwhile, the manufacturing of 1 kilo of hydrogen, permitting you to drive 100 kilometres, emits 10 kilos of CO2, i.e. as a lot as a thermal automotive consuming gasoline with out lead over the identical distance.

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Filling up with hydrogen solely takes 5 minutes however requires nice care.

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The opposite answer consists in finishing up an electrolysis of water, that’s to say separating the molecules of hydrogen and oxygen by making use of an electrical present. Sadly, within the present state of business electrolysis, its vitality effectivity may be very poor. Solely 30% of the vitality consumed to fabricate it’s recovered. If, nonetheless, it’s a renewable vitality, resembling wind, photovoltaic or hydraulic, and due to this fact free, the method then turns into rather more worthwhile and… virtuous. Producing hydrogen on this means makes it potential to retailer, and due to this fact to not lose the inexperienced vitality not used in the mean time. In Germany, it’s estimated that 500 gigawatt hours (GWh) produced by wind generators evaporate into nature annually, which is the annual consumption of 60,000 hydrogen gas cell vehicles!

The way it works To run a automotive on hydrogen, you want a battery that produces electrical energy by mixing hydrogen, compressed to 700 bars, contained in its tank(s), with oxygen taken from the air, with solely discharge of water on the exhaust. The vitality “produced” on this means provides the motor instantly or passes by way of a buffer battery. Just like that of a 100% electrical car, driving a hydrogen automotive is distinguished by its smoothness, silence and the absence of polluting emissions. And it has the benefit of not having to be recharged; it is sufficient to replenish with hydrogen, in a couple of minutes, as one does that of tremendous unleaded, to regain its preliminary autonomy. Two producers are at the moment advertising such expertise on our territory: Hyundai with the Nexo SUV (from €80,400) and Toyota with the Mirai sedan (from €69,400) which equips a fleet of 70 taxis in Paris.

Then comes the problem of distribution. To be transported, hydrogen have to be compressed to 200 bars or liquefied at –253°C, earlier than being launched beneath a stress of 700 bars into the ultra-tight tank(s) of a automotive. Clearly, a truck able to transporting 40 tonnes of unleaded can solely carry 3 tonnes of hydrogen. This might probably multiply by twenty the variety of tank vehicles on the roads. Not all that very eco-friendly, nor very favorable to visitors… Native manufacturing due to this fact appears probably the most viable answer to reduce the affect of its distribution. It stays to create a community of service stations as dense because the one we all know immediately for petrol and diesel (11,000 referenced stations). To not point out the price of putting in a hydrogen pump, which at the moment quantities to 1 million euros.

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Filling up with hydrogen solely takes 5 minutes however requires nice care. The protection measures obligatory for its operation naturally enhance its value. Bought round 12 euros per kilo, its value might fall to six euros if its manufacturing was ensured by renewable energies, however hydrogen will at all times stay costlier than electrical energy to recharge a battery. To not point out the acquisition value of such a automotive, which is prohibitive to say the least immediately…

Whereas hydrogen is actually a future answer for vitality storage, there may be little likelihood that it’s going to substitute fossil gas within the medium time period. Difficult and costly to supply, retailer and distribute, it’s primarily meant for fleets, as evidenced by the hydrogen plan launched by the general public authorities. Essentially the most formidable goal evokes the circulation of fifty,000 utility automobiles and a pair of,000 vehicles by 2028, equipped by 1,000 native manufacturing stations. At Michelin, through its subsidiary Symbio, which specializes within the manufacture of hydrogen gas cells, there may be discuss of a market share of two% in 2030. Mr. Everyone seems to be due to this fact not about to run on hydrogen, has a fortiori if the progress of the batteries is as dazzling as introduced.

MAUDE PORTIGLIATTI high-tech supplies enterprise director of the Michelin group

Interview Lionel Robert

Paris Match. How does hydrogen have a future for clear mobility?
Maude Portigliatti.
Along with the battery-powered electrical automotive, the hydrogen gas cell automotive promotes the vitality transition to non-fossil assets. By producing electrical energy with out releasing CO2 however solely water vapour, it improves air high quality. However hydrogen should above all be thought of as an vitality vector that permits the storage of renewable vitality resembling wind energy or photovoltaics.

You supervise the hydrogen exercise. What’s the first concrete utility?
The Stellantis group now markets a utility automobile geared up with a hydrogen gas cell produced by Symbio, a three way partnership created in 2010 by Michelin and Faurecia. Symbio is aiming for 10% of the worldwide gas cell market by 2030. Two million hydrogen automobiles ought to then be circulating on the planet.

What kind of automobiles is hydrogen notably meant for?
For these requiring important autonomy, who must “refuel” shortly and who’ve to hold heavy masses. We’re primarily speaking about business automobiles or pickups, vehicles or buses and even SUVs. Machines for which the load of a giant battery and the incompressible charging time could be prohibitive.

What are the benefits of hydrogen gas cell automotive over battery automotive?
The primary factor is to replenish quicker than you possibly can recharge a battery, whereas sustaining the vary of present inside combustion automobiles. The distribution of hydrogen requires a community just like that of the distribution of gasoline, due to this fact much less dense than that of charging factors for electrical automobiles. A hydrogen gas cell additionally has the benefit of being gentle and occupying little house. Lastly, storage within the type of hydrogen makes it potential to beat the intermittency of renewable energies and contributes to vitality sovereignty. And it is a essential level in these troubled instances

FRENCH TECH ATTACKS GREEN FUEL A supply of inspiration, hydrogen boosts French start-ups’ creativity and thirst for entrepreneurship. Initiatives are rising like mushrooms after the rain, whereas the France Hydrogen affiliation is seeing the variety of its members develop visibly. If 3,500 jobs are at the moment recognized by the sector, it ought to generate greater than 100,000 by 2030. The well-known racing crew Oreca has, for instance, simply signed a partnership settlement with FEV, the world specialist in propulsion, to develop a hydrogen engine for the 2024 Dakar Rally. Based mostly in Savoie, Atawey has revealed the primary cellular hydrogen charging station. Targeted on the manufacturing of inexperienced hydrogen, the Nantes-based firm Lhyfe was listed on the inventory market whereas the startup Hysetco, created in 2017, has develop into the primary supervisor of hydrogen automobile fleets in France. Automotive goals additionally abound, as evidenced by these three examples.

Vision Automobiles 1789

Imaginative and prescient Vehicles 1789

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Hopium Machina Olivier Lombard, the youngest winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and founding father of the model, has already introduced 1,000 reservations for this massive premium sedan (4.97 m, 2 tons), accessible in 2025 and billed at €120,000. Able to carrying 10 kilos of hydrogen, the 4-seater GT delivers 500 hp and will journey 1,000 kilometers between two fill-ups. A primary growth prototype has already reached 200 km/h.

Olivier Lombard and the Hopium Machina

Olivier Lombard and the Hopium Machina

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NamX HUV Designed in collaboration with the Pininfarina studio and launched on the finish of 2025, the HUV is the primary mannequin from the Franco-Moroccan producer NamX. It’s geared up with a hydrogen gas cell and detachable hydrogen capsules along with its tank. This SUV boasts 300 hp, a high pace of 200 km/h and 800 kilometers of autonomy. From €65,000.

NamX HUV

NamX HUV

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