A secure energy transition must integrate a wide range of disciplines, including human, physical, economic, social, life sciences, and earth sciences, focusing on including the user at the forefront of technological development. The ULHyS project (Universite of Lorraine Hydrogene Sciences and Technologies), a part of the University of Lorraine, brings together approximately ten labs around five research subjects, ranging from hydrogen production and deployment to territorial. In this connection, a few ULHys participants were invited by the hydrogen station FaHyence in Sarreguemines.
It was officially inaugurated in April 2017. FaHyence has become the only fuel facility in Europe that produces hydrogen via electrolysis in the site, using renewable green sources of energy supplied via Electricity of France (EDF). The facility can produce a maximum of 40 kilograms of hydrogen per day, corresponding to the need for 20-25 vehicles with daily charging pressures of 350-420 bar.
Approximately 350km of range without greenhouse gas emissions
Additional hydrogen fuel stations that are located in France include the HyWay project that has been operating since the summer of 2018 on the CEA (French Alternative Energy and Atomic Energy Commission) site in Grenoble as well as two other stations that are currently under construction in Rodez as well as Nantes. FaHyence comes from collaboration with EDF, EIFER, McPhy, Symbio Fcell, and the Urban Conglomeration of Sarreguemines Confluences (CASC). To ensure regular operation of the fuel station, around ten hydrogen vehicles operate within the urban conglomeration. Electric Kangoo ZE (Renault) fitted with Symbio Fcell and an energy cell that acts as a range extender. These PEM (polymer electrolyte membrane) fuel cells are powered using pure hydrogen and therefore emit no greenhouse gases with ranges of up to 350 km, which is 200 km due to a Li-ion battery of 33kWh and 150 km with 5kWh PEMFC connected to a 1.8 kg hydrogen tank, which is pressurized by 350 bar.
Even if the station is not open at no cost or is not, any vehicle, French, European, or international, powered by hydrogen could recharge following a simple approval through the CASC with a clear benefit: the hydrogen filling process is free. This means that nine more utilitarian vehicles have been purchased within the last few months by other professional partners of the consortium, while a few individual German and Belgian users have already topped up their tanks at Sarreguemines.
FaHyence is its contribution to the H2ME (Hydrogen Mobility Europe) project that is financed through the European program FCH JU (Fuel et al. Undertaking), which aims to deploy the first 49 hydrogen-filled filling stations as well as 1,400 vehicles across the EU in the year 2020. Hydrogen represents the third element in the sustainability initiative of FaHyence, apart from bio-methane and electricity. It is a dazzling living laboratory and an obvious use case for hydrogen technology.
A full tank in four minutes flat
The process of learning for users to use the filling devices has been able to do so smoothly. The interface is classic, and the process is like conventional systems that use fossil fuel has allowed for a reduction in the time required to adapt. There are some improvements to be made regarding ergonomics and interactions, but the principle is pretty simple. Compared to the long hours of charging required for conventional electric vehicles that use batteries, the four minutes needed to fill up a car’s tank with hydrogen is more than adequate.
The station is equipped with an alkaline electrolyzer capable of producing 1.8 kg/h that requires fifty liters of water per kilogram of hydrogen production. Additionally, there are two levels of compressors, the first one able to reach pressures around 30 bars and the other by a fantastic circuit that can be cooled down to -20degC, allowing pressures of up to 420 bar. This compressor comes with two main advantages: First, it allows filling not just hydrogen vehicles with 350 bar (case of FC-EV like Kangoo ZE), but also FC-EVs (such as Kangoo ZE), but in addition, with some volume limitations electric vehicles running on hydrogen that require filling pressures of 700 bar and having a range of 450 kilometers (case of FCV, such as those of the Toyota Mirai, the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell and the Hyundai Nexo …). Another benefit is that cooling can reduce the time required to fill up to four minutes, compared to seven when operating in ambient temperatures.
A gas station that is not being utilized could be competitive.
“Hydrogen technology itself is not the limiting factor,” says Christian Hector, head of the technical department of Cofluences and the founder of the project FaHyence. “The most constraining element is the electrolyser.” The average is 2.2 fuel per day, just five percent of its capacity. The station is under-utilized. Ultimately, the cost per filling is too expensive to compete against traditional stations. However, the cost per kilogram of hydrogen depends on the local conditions; at Sarreguemines, the cost is 10 euros per kg, while the national average is approximately 6 EUR per kilogram. It takes around 1 gram of hydrogen to travel 100km.
For the station to be efficient in terms of cost, a minimum of 30 vehicles per day filling up their tanks would be needed. “But the economic profit was not the motivation of this project,” Hector explains. Hector. “The purpose was to test electric mobility in a cross-border context, as well as to validate the technical reliability of a hydrogen gas station in combination with an electrolyzer on-site.” Even if the future of the station, which will be supported by a financial grant due to expire in 2020, is still being determined, the goals were met due to the determination and determination of Hector and his team of green mobility in the CASC.