Our cars can also be "hydrogen"

Reporter Li Zhen

In Beijing's Yanqing district, many citizens have ridden a bus with a green body and painted white auspicious clouds. But perhaps few people understand that these buses are not small - they were once the service guarantee cars of the Beijing Winter Olympics, and these cars do not burn gasoline, nor are they common pure electric vehicles, but hydrogen fuel cell buses, which are more low-carbon and environmentally friendly.

Hydrogen energy is a recognized clean energy with light weight, abundant reserves and good combustion performance, which can be used in many fields. Transportation is one of its most important application scenarios.

In recent years, the domestic hydrogen energy vehicle industry has developed steadily, and innovative achievements have continued to emerge. The "Medium and Long-term Plan for the Development of Hydrogen Energy Industry (2021-2035)" jointly issued by the National Development and Reform Commission and the National Energy Administration pointed out that it is necessary to "orderly promote the demonstration application of hydrogen energy in the field of transportation", and proposed the development goal of "about 2025,5 fuel cell vehicles and the deployment and construction of a number of hydrogen refueling stations by <>".

It is believed that in the near future, hydrogen energy vehicles, which are still very niche vehicles, will enter thousands of households, adding another green choice to people's transportation.

Unique advantages and broad development prospects

With the development of technology and the popularization of low-carbon concepts, new energy vehicles have become market darlings. By the end of 2022, the number of new energy vehicles in China had reached 1310.1 million. But the vast majority of them are pure electric vehicles, and the number of hydrogen energy vehicles has just exceeded <>,<>.

If new energy vehicles are becoming increasingly familiar partners, hydrogen energy vehicles can be regarded as a "new face". However, in recent years, the development prospects of this "fresh face" have been widely optimistic.

In 2022, during the Beijing Winter Olympics, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will carry out demonstration operations for service events, which will become a highlight moment in the development of domestic hydrogen energy vehicles. Nowadays, in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and other places, hydrogen energy vehicles are accelerating the promotion of landing.

The "Energy-saving and New Energy Vehicle Technology Roadmap 2.0" issued by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology mentioned that it is expected that by 2035, the number of fuel cell vehicles will reach about 100 million, and commercial vehicles will achieve hydrogen power transformation.

Why are hydrogen vehicles so popular? Compared with other new energy vehicles, what are the unique advantages of hydrogen energy vehicles?

"One of the technological cores of hydrogen energy vehicles lies in hydrogen fuel cells." According to He Guangli, deputy director of the Hydrogen Energy (Ammonia) Technology Research Center of the Beijing Low-Carbon and Clean Energy Research Institute of the National Energy Group, the working principle of hydrogen energy vehicles is to introduce hydrogen into the fuel cell in the car, and then hydrogen and oxygen react in the fuel cell, emit electricity at the same time, and then use electricity to drive the car forward.

"In our common pure electric vehicles, electricity is directly stored in the on-board battery, and the battery is an energy storage mechanism. The hydrogen fuel cell is an energy conversion mechanism. From this point of view, it can be compared to the working method of fuel vehicles: on fuel vehicles, we add gasoline to the fuel tank to supply the engine to burn; In hydrogen energy vehicles, we need to add hydrogen to fuel cells. He Guangli said.

Therefore, compared with pure electric vehicles, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles add on-board hydrogen storage systems and fuel cell systems with power generation capabilities. This gives it its own unique advantage.

The first is that compared with pure electric vehicles, the cruising range of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles has increased significantly. He Guangli pointed out that pure electric vehicles to improve the cruising range, the current way is generally to increase more lithium batteries, or through the update of technology, continue to improve the high energy density of the battery. But for vehicle production, both require higher costs. However, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles increase the cruising range by simply increasing the hydrogen storage tank. In addition, pure electric vehicles take a long time to charge, generally taking several hours to fully charge. However, the time for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles to refuel hydrogen is very short, almost the same as that for fuel vehicles to refill gasoline.

In various environments such as high altitude, high temperature, and high cold, the performance of hydrogen fuel cells is also more stable. Taking the hydrogen fuel cell bus that has been put into use in Yanqing District, Beijing as an example, the hydrogen fuel cell system loaded with it can start quickly without auxiliary heat in an environment of minus 30 °C, and the cruising range can reach 300 kilometers. Guo Hongyu, driver of the eighth passenger transport branch of Beijing Public Transport Group, said of the feeling of driving a hydrogen fuel cell bus: "Hydrogen energy vehicles are not only safer and more environmentally friendly, no pollution, but also have less noise, longer battery life, smooth operation period, and are particularly comfortable to drive." ”

From the perspective of low carbon and environmental protection, hydrogen energy vehicles also have better performance, and some people even call hydrogen energy vehicles "mobile air purifiers". According to He Guangli, this is because fuel cells are very sensitive, in order to ensure that the air entering the fuel cell is clean, hydrogen energy vehicles need to set up physical adsorption, chemical adsorption and other multi-channel filtration devices. Therefore, the front air treatment device of hydrogen energy vehicles can not only absorb particulate matter, but also filter out harmful gases in the air. When the filtered air enters the battery and reacts with hydrogen, only water and cleaner air are discharged.

The pace of infrastructure construction has accelerated

Since hydrogen energy vehicles have so many advantages, how to further promote their promotion? In the interview, a number of industry insiders said that strengthening hydrogen energy storage and transportation capacity and improving infrastructure construction such as hydrogen refueling stations is the key to the promotion and popularization of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

In terms of hydrogen production, China already has certain advantages. The "Medium and Long-term Plan for the Development of Hydrogen Energy Industry (2021-2035)" pointed out that China is the world's largest hydrogen producer, with an annual hydrogen production output of about 3300 million tons, of which about 1200 million tons meet industrial hydrogen quality standards. The world's largest installed capacity of renewable energy, it has great potential in clean and low-carbon hydrogen energy supply.

However, the current use of renewable energy such as solar energy, wind energy, etc. to produce green hydrogen, mainly from the western region; But the demand for hydrogen is strong in the east. To solve the mismatch between supply and demand, it is necessary to strengthen the transportation capacity of hydrogen.

In terms of hydrogen storage and transportation, China is mainly based on high-pressure gaseous long-pipe trailer transportation at this stage, and pipeline transportation is still a weak point. This has led to the high cost and low efficiency of long-distance hydrogen transportation, which is also one of the main reasons for the high cost of terminal hydrogen, which restricts the development of the industrial chain.

Fortunately, this problem will be gradually resolved. Not long ago, the "West-to-East Hydrogen Transmission" hydrogen pipeline demonstration project was included in the "Implementation Plan for the Construction of Oil and Gas "One National Network", and China's first pure hydrogen long-distance pipeline project was launched.

The pipeline starts in Ulanqab City, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and ends at Yanshan Petrochemical in Beijing, with a total length of more than 400 kilometers, and is the first cross-province, large-scale, long-distance pure hydrogen transmission pipeline in China. After the pipeline is completed, it will be used to replace the existing fossil energy hydrogen production and transportation hydrogen in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region.

According to Ma Yongsheng, chairman of Sinopec, the first phase of the "West-to-East Hydrogen Delivery" pipeline has a capacity of 10,50 tons/year, with a long-term improvement potential of <>,<> tons/year. At the same time, ports will be reserved in many places along the route to facilitate access to potential hydrogen sources. In the future, Sinopec can rely on the "West-to-East Hydrogen Delivery" pipeline to build branch lines and hydrogenation mother stations to help the efficient construction of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei hydrogen energy corridor.

At present, the "West-to-East Hydrogen Transmission" hydrogen pipeline demonstration project has made positive progress in route site selection, technical research, engineering construction plan, etc., basically completed the preparation of the feasibility study report, and is accelerating the work of the project.

Improving the layout of hydrogen refueling stations is also an indispensable prerequisite for the development of hydrogen energy vehicle industry.

In September last year, at the press conference of the National Development and Reform Commission on infrastructure construction, the relevant person in charge of the National Energy Administration introduced that China has built more than 9 hydrogen refueling stations, accounting for about 270% of the global total, ranking first in the world.

For example, the Haiper hydrogen refueling station located in Beijing Daxing International Hydrogen Energy Demonstration Zone, completed in 2021, covers an area of more than 6000,16 square meters, making it the world's largest hydrogen refueling station. There are a total of 4 hydrogen refueling guns, and the daily hydrogen refueling capacity can reach 8.500 tons. According to the relevant person in charge of the Haiper hydrogen refueling station, the hydrogen refueling station can serve more than <> vehicles a day at its peak.

The Qingyundian gas station, also located in Daxing District, Beijing, will add hydrogen refueling equipment and facilities in 2022 and be transformed into an oil-hydrogen integrated station. According to reports, this year, Daxing District plans to build two more oil-hydrogen integrated stations, and accelerate the construction of two pure hydrogen stations. It is planned to build no less than 2 hydrogen refueling stations by the end of 2 to fully guarantee the hydrogen refueling demand of fuel cell vehicles.

The relevant person in charge of the National Development and Reform Commission pointed out that at present, the domestic hydrogen refueling stations are mainly 35MPa gaseous hydrogen refueling stations, 70MPa high-pressure gaseous hydrogen refueling stations account for a small proportion, and the construction and operation experience of liquid hydrogen refueling stations and hydrogen production and hydrogenation integrated stations is insufficient. In addition, the daily refueling capacity of existing domestic hydrogen refueling stations is mainly distributed in the range of 500-1000 kg, and large-scale hydrogen refueling stations greater than 1000 kg still need to be further constructed. In the future, the hydrogen refueling network will be demand-oriented, under the premise of ensuring safety, save and intensively use land resources, support the use of existing refueling and refueling stations to renovate and expand gas stations in accordance with laws and regulations, and explore new models such as hydrogen refueling stations that integrate hydrogen production, storage and hydrogen refueling stations in the stations.

According to the Beijing Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle Vehicle Refueling Station Development Plan (2021-2025), Beijing will strive to promote 2023,3000 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles by 2025; By 1, we will strive to achieve a cumulative promotion of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles exceeding 2023,37 units. At the same time, by 74, it will strive to build and put into operation 47 hydrogen refueling stations, with a total hydrogen refueling capacity of 2025 tons/day, meeting the demand for hydrogen energy for 74 tons/day for vehicles. By 148, we will strive to build and put into operation 126 hydrogen refueling stations, with a total hydrogen refueling capacity of <> tons/day, meeting the demand for hydrogen energy for vehicles of <> tons/day.

In recent years, Shanghai has also built more than 10 hydrogen refueling stations. The "Shanghai Hydrogen Energy Industry Development Medium and Long-term Plan (2022-2035)" proposes that by 2025, about 70 hydrogen refueling stations of various types will be built, the number of fuel cell vehicles will exceed 1,1000, the industrial scale of the hydrogen energy industry chain will exceed 5 billion yuan, and the carbon dioxide emission reduction will be reduced by 10,<>-<>,<> tons per year in the transportation field.

Enterprise innovation Aiming at the market

With the continuous improvement of infrastructure construction, more and more innovative companies are targeting the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle related market.

Beijing Wenli Technology Co., Ltd., located in Daxing International Hydrogen Energy Demonstration Zone, is committed to the research and development and production of fuel cell systems and their components.

"In the research and development of many related components and products of fuel cell systems, many domestic products have reached the international leading level." Zuo Linlin, deputy general manager of Beijing Wenli Technology Co., Ltd., told reporters that the company has developed a new type of fuel cell air compressor through the research and development of air bearing technology, which has achieved an ultra-high speed of 12,<> revolutions per minute. This makes the fuel cell system significantly smaller and more suitable for on-board use.

"The research and development of fuel cell system components involves multidisciplinary knowledge such as electromagnetism, fluid mechanics, and materials science, and the product development process is relatively complex, and the technological innovation content is relatively high." So we spend a lot of time constantly testing, validating. According to Zuo Linlin, it took 4 years for the fuel cell air compressor to start designing and successfully making an engineering prototype. Then, after more than one year of polishing, it officially became a mass-produced product on the market.

At present, a variety of fuel cell systems developed by Beijing Wenli Technology Co., Ltd. have a power coverage of 5kW~150kW, which can be applied to heavy-duty trucks with long endurance and high power, and can also be used for low-power forklifts, sanitation vehicles and other field vehicles. Zuo Linlin said: "I believe that in the near future, hydrogen energy vehicles will have better performance in the field of passenger cars and commercial vehicles, occupying a certain proportion of market share. ”

The stack is a key component of the hydrogen fuel cell system, accounting for more than half of the cost in the fuel cell system, and the membrane electrode is the core component in the stack, and the industrial importance is comparable to the battery cells of lithium batteries.

In recent years, Shanghai Jie Hydrogen Technology Co., Ltd. has made a number of breakthroughs in the independent research and development and manufacturing of membrane electrodes, and realized the localization and industrialization of membrane electrodes. The company's new generation of membrane electrode products increased the peak power density by 30% year-on-year, the platinum consumption decreased by 23%, and the life was increased by 50%, reaching the international advanced level. At the same time, the cost of membrane electrodes has been greatly reduced.

"To promote the popularization of hydrogen fuel cells, cost reduction is a crucial part." In the view of Lu Bingbing, general manager of Jie Hydrogen Technology, it is indispensable to achieve cost reduction, break the monopoly of key component technology, and realize the autonomy and control of the entire industrial chain.

"Throughout the hydrogen energy and fuel cell industry, domestic companies have been quite competitive in most technologies and products, but at the same time, we also need to realize that some core materials, including proton exchange membranes, carbon paper, catalysts, etc., still have a technological gap compared with foreign products, which also requires us to plan ahead and pay more attention to basic research and development." Lu Bingbing said that he hopes that in the future, in the field of hydrogen fuel cells, it can achieve comprehensive localization from core materials and components to production processes and equipment, avoid "stuck necks", and promote China's hydrogen energy and fuel cell industry to the forefront of the world.

The long-term development potential of China's hydrogen energy vehicle industry and market has also attracted many foreign-funded enterprises.

In Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, the "HTWO Guangzhou" project of South Korea's Hyundai Motor Group is under construction and will be completed and put into operation this year. This is Hyundai Motor Group's first overseas hydrogen fuel cell system R&D, production and sales base.

In the Beijing Economic and Technological Development Zone, Toyota's fuel cell R&D and production project has also been officially landed, which will be completed by the end of 2023 and put into operation in 2024. This is the largest foreign-funded project introduced in the field of hydrogen energy in Beijing, and in the future, Toyota technology will be introduced and joint efforts will be made to develop localized fuel cells to achieve large-scale mass production of fuel cell systems. After the project is landed, it will further accelerate the commercialization and popularization of hydrogen fuel cell technology, and at the same time accelerate the agglomeration of upstream and downstream industrial chains. The relevant person in charge of Beijing Economic and Technological Development Zone said: "With the landing of Toyota's fuel cell project, the next step will be to attract a number of high-precision enterprises in key components of fuel cells, enhance upstream and downstream collaboration, and continuously improve the hydrogen energy industry chain." ”

With policy support, technological innovation, and market expectations, the domestic hydrogen energy vehicle industry will enter a new stage of accelerated development. (People's Daily Overseas Edition)