Powered by hydrogen

Exxon Mobil is joining forces with QuestAir Technologies, Plug Power and the Ben-Gurion University to commercialise a hydrogen production system.

Exxon Mobil is joining forces with QuestAir Technologies, Plug Power and the Blechner Center at Ben-Gurion University in Israel to commercialise an on-vehicle hydrogen production system for use in a fuel cell-powered lift truck.

Under the terms of the deal between the three, Plug Power will seek to commercialise technologies developed by ExxonMobil, QuestAir Technologies and Ben-Gurion University that take liquid fuels – petrol, diesel, ethanol or biodiesel –  and convert them into hydrogen onboard the vehicle where it will be used in a fuel cell power train.

’By developing a system that converts liquid hydrocarbons into hydrogen directly on a vehicle without the need for storage, we hope to demonstrate significant infrastructure, logistics and cost advantages compared to other hydrogen vehicle systems, all while reducing the impact on the environment,’ said Dr. Emil Jacobs, vice president of Research and Development at ExxonMobil Research and Engineering.

’There is a long road ahead before this technology could be deployed on a mass scale in passenger vehicles, but it has the potential to be up to 80 per cent more fuel efficient than today’s internal combustion engine technologies and reduce CO2 emissions by up to 45 per cent. The use of this technology in a practical, commercial setting such as in a lift truck application is an important early step in demonstrating the potential benefits this technology may hold in the long-term,’ he added.

Most prototype hydrogen vehicles on the road today are powered by highly-compressed or liquefied hydrogen that is delivered to distribution points and then stored at high pressures on-board the vehicle. For these vehicles to be widely adopted a significant hydrogen generation and delivery infrastructure must be developed. As the ExxonMobil system uses conventional fuels and produces hydrogen on demand, no such infrastructure or on-board storage would be necessary.

The announcement follows several years of work by ExxonMobil, QuestAir Technologies and Ben-Gurion University to develop the individual components that make up the on-vehicle hydrogen fuel system.