Platinum in fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) is a growing demand sector for platinum, with wider adoption dependent on the availability of an accessible hydrogen refueling network, says the World Platinum Investment Council (WPIC) in its latest newsletter on May 5.
This FCEV growth is coming predominantly from the heavy-duty sector, especially in the near term, with passenger vehicle growth likely to follow in the longer term.
The growth, the WPIC explains, is owing to platinum being used as a catalyst in hydrogen fuel cell applications. It states that platinum-based fuel cells are particularly well-suited to vehicle applications owing to their ability to tolerate rapid changes in load, while their high electrical current density ensures they are small enough, yet able to meet the power requirements of cars and trucks.
However, infrastructure readiness, especially refueling, is key to the scaling up of zero-emission technologies that use platinum-based hydrogen fuel cells, as the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) has recently highlighted.
The Brussels-based trade association for the 15 major car, van, truck and bus manufacturers in the European Union has further also called for the roll-out of about 300 hydrogen refuelling stations by the end of 2025, increasing to around 1 000 by no later than 2030, in order for the goals of the European Green Deal to be met.
Worldwide, there are currently about 600 hydrogen refueling stations in operation.
Of these, 107 went into operation during 2020, more than ever before in a single year, with four countries in particular showing notable expansion: Germany extended its network by 14 hydrogen stations; China its network by 18; Korea by 26; and Japan by 28.
Globally, there are plans for a further 225 refueling stations to be built. Those plans have been further bolstered by an announcement from China’s Sinopec Group.
Sinopec – one of the world’s largest oil refiners – plans to build 1 000 hydrogen refueling and combined petrol-hydrogen stations over the next five years as it reallocates some of its resources along the hydrogen value chain.
In the UK, Element Two is planning to deploy a network of more than 800 hydrogen fuel pumps in prime locations by 2027, rising to 2 000 by 2030.
Meanwhile in North America, where the majority of the 75 existing hydrogen stations are located in California, Arizona-based Nikola Corporation and TravelCenters of America (TA-Petro) have agreed to collaborate on the installation of hydrogen refueling stations for heavy-duty trucks at two existing TA-Petro sites.
“This collaboration is a first step for the two businesses to explore the mutual development of a nationwide network of hydrogen refueling stations,” the WPIC comments.
Also, in North America, PowerTap, a leader in on-site hydrogen production and refueling, is planning to establish at least 500 refueling stations to provide hydrogen for mainly FCEV trucks in the next three to five years.