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There are four big trends in global fuel cells

In recent years, with the rapid development of the global economy, the demand for energy is increasing. At the same time, environmental problems are particularly prominent, so it is urgent to find a way of economic development that can replace energy and reduce environmental pollution. The fuel cell industry was born.


Fuel cell is a kind of chemical device which converts the chemical energy of fuel directly into electric energy. It is the fourth generation technology after hydroelectric, thermal and atomic power. Because fuel cells convert the gibbs free energy part of the chemical energy of fuel into electrical energy through electrochemical reaction, they are not limited by carnot cycle effect, so they have high efficiency. In addition, fuel cells use fuel and oxygen as raw materials. At the same time, there is no mechanical transmission parts, so there is no noise pollution, the emission of harmful gases is minimal. Therefore, from the perspective of energy conservation and ecological environment protection, fuel cell is the most promising power generation technology.


Depending on the electrolyte, fuel cells can be divided into five types: basic fuel cell (AFC), phosphoric acid fuel cell (PAFC), molten carbonate fuel cell (MCFC), solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC), and proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC).


Fuel cells have the advantages of high power generation efficiency, small environmental pollution, high specific energy, low noise, wide fuel range and high reliability. With the advancement of national policies and the requirement of environmental protection, fuel cells have been continuously applied in the field of new energy vehicles.


Fuel cell market


In terms of sales, global fuel cells grew rapidly from 46,000 units to 73,000 units in 2012-2017, up 15.87 percent year-on-year in 2017. A total of 373,000 sets were delivered, with an annual compound growth rate of 10%. With lower costs and technological breakthroughs, global fuel cell sales are expected to grow rapidly from 2019 to 2025. From the perspective of shipments, the cumulative shipments from 2012 to 2017 were 2511MW, with an annual compound growth rate of 32%.


The development trend


Demand for hydrogen is expected to increase tenfold by 2050, according to a report on the future of hydrogen energy released by the international hydrogen energy council. The number of fuel-cell passenger vehicles is expected to reach 10 million to 15 million globally by 2030. Due to the large market potential, large enterprises have stepped up research and development, and some countries have also stepped up support in an effort to solve energy security problems by developing hydrogen energy and seize the commanding heights in the international energy field. At present, hydrogen energy is developing rapidly in Japan, the United States and Europe. Many innovations have been made in hydrogen production, hydrogen storage and hydrogenation, and new breakthroughs have been made in fuel cell technology.


I. hydrogen production: the number of hydrogen production projects from renewable energy increases, and the grid synergy effect is highlighted


The process also USES energy, which is at the root of some of the criticism of hydrogen. An important way to solve this problem is to use renewable energy to produce hydrogen, especially the most economical way to convert the discarded wind power and solar power into hydrogen.


BP's world energy outlook (2017 edition) projects that renewable energy will quadruple growth by 2035, with a third of the increase in power generation coming from renewable sources. Hydrogen production from renewable energy has attracted much attention, and research achievements and demonstration projects on hydrogen production from renewable energy have been emerging.


Toyota has proposed a technical route for making hydrogen from biological and agricultural waste. Toyota will build a megawatt renewable energy hydrogen station "tri-gen" in the U.S. port of long beach. The facility, which produces hydrogen from biological and agricultural waste, will provide about 2350 kw of electricity and 1,200 kg of hydrogen per day, enough for the daily use of 2,350 homes and 1,500 fuel-cell vehicles.


Germany's powertogas project collects surplus electricity from renewable energy sources at off-peak times to produce hydrogen by electrolysis of water, which is then injected into local natural gas pipelines for energy storage. With the increase of such projects, the synergies of power grid are gradually verified.


Hydrogen storage: liquid hydrogen storage and transportation may become the focus of development


At present, liquid hydrogen storage and transportation has gradually become the focus of research and development. Japan, the United States, Germany and other countries have reduced the transportation cost of liquid hydrogen to about one-eighth of high-pressure hydrogen. Japan has taken the development of liquid hydrogen supply chain system as the precondition to solve the large-scale application of hydrogen energy. The basic idea is to use lignite in Australia as the raw material to produce hydrogen, then realize decarbonization through carbon capture, and then ship it back to Japan for use. In order to support the development of liquid hydrogen supply chain system, to solve the key technical problems, at the aspect of liquid hydrogen storage and transportation enterprise on research and development, actively introduce the most products has entered the stage of actual inspection, such as sutra rock valley industrial development of large liquid hydrogen storage tanks, through the vacuum exhaust design to ensure the storage tank of high intensity at the same time to achieve the high heat resistance.


At present, liquid hydrogen refueling stations have begun to appear on the international stage, and have spread all over Japan, the United States and the French market. In Japan, ibuya industry co., ltd. has successfully established 16 liquid hydrogen refueling stations. In the United States, Plugpower and Airproduct companies are the major construction enterprises of liquid hydrogen refueling stations. China's liquid hydrogen plant is still in the stage of serving for the launch of space rockets.


3. Hydrogenation: the construction speed of hydrogenation stations is accelerated and the number of hybrid stations is increasing day by day


With the popularization and application of fuel cell vehicles, the construction and promotion of hydrogen refueling station, which is the supporting infrastructure of fuel cell vehicles, has also received much attention. According to the H2stations.org, of the 92 hydrogen stations added worldwide in 2016, 83 are open to the public and the remaining nine are dedicated to bus or fleet customers. In order to meet the needs of large-scale operation, the daily hydrogen supply capacity of refueling stations is gradually improved. With the introduction of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (HFCS), hydrogen refueling stations, which can provide refueling service for 30-50 passenger cars or 100 passenger cars every day, have gradually emerged and become the mainstream.


Hydrogen refueling station operation presents a new trend of integrated and modular development, and the number of hybrid stations is increasing gradually. The hybrid form has developed from independent hydrogen refueling stations and gas stations with hydrogen refueling stations to gas stations, gas refueling stations and hydrogen refueling stations in one, as well as hydrogen refueling stations with convenience stores and charging piles. It provides a more diversified infrastructure solution for the popularization of fuel cell vehicles.


Iv. Technology: significantly reduce the cost of core components, and focus on the research and development of new catalysts


At kyushu university in Japan developed can respectively under different pH environment catalyst for the oxidation of hydrogen and carbon monoxide, the catalyst is loaded with unique "butterfly" structure of nickel and iridium metal atoms of water soluble complex, can simulate the effect of two enzymes, acidic medium hydrogenase (pH4-7) and carbon monoxide in the alkaline medium dehydrogenase (pH7-10), can effectively avoid the catalyst poisoning and improve the production efficiency of hydrogen.


The catalyst technology that reduces platinum dosage also appears in succession breakthrough. The nano-alloy catalyst developed by Charles university of technology and the Danish university of science and technology can reduce the amount of platinum, and solve the bottleneck of fuel cell commercialization to a certain extent.

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