The Hydrogen Gas Technique Behind Nikola's Truck Dream

Ars strives to cowl his personal journey bills. To attend the Nikola convention, we lined the flight to Scottsdale, Arizona, however Nikola lined one evening at a resort close by.

SCOTTSDALE, AZ – The Nikola Motor Firm desires to reinvent trucking by changing heavy diesel vans with hydrogen gasoline cell vans. However the skeptics on hydrogen are quite a few and never with out cause. Though hydrogen gasoline cell automobiles are quiet, emission-free (apart from water) throughout operation, they usually cost comparatively shortly in comparison with battery-powered electrical automobiles, they pose many different issues.

First, hydrogen is tough to retailer and have to be cooled and compressed. It's additionally tough to move. As well as, the H2 will not be a inexperienced gasoline in america, for essentially the most half. Usually, pure fuel (CH4) is reformed to create H2 to generate carbon emissions. There’s a strategy to create hydrogen with out emitting carbon: by making use of electrical energy to the water (a course of known as electrolysis of water). However the electrolysis of water has a prohibitive price, and if the hydrogen can’t compete with the diesel, what’s the worth proposition of Nikola for the transport corporations that can make them wish to spend ?

This week, the corporate hoped to handle these issues at a two-day convention in Arizona. Jesse Schneider, Vice President of Hydrogen Expertise at Nikola, then joined Jon André Løkke, CEO of the Norwegian firm Electrolysis of Water, Nel Hydrogen, to reveal Nikola's plans for fueling lots of or 1000’s of gasoline cell vans a day.

Manufacture of hydrogen

The primary partnership between Nikola and Nel Hydrogen is a constructive signal. Nel has existed for 90 years and provided water electrolysis machines to industrial and industrial corporations in Europe. Løkke advised Ars that the corporate had by no means manufactured hydrogen from methane; The electrolysis of water is its essential exercise. Though the corporate primarily constructed techniques for industrial use, it considers its partnership with Nikola as a priceless technique of extending its market to move by constructing the quite a few refueling stations, together with any severe try at a transportation community. hydrogen will want.

In its presentation this week, Nikola's Schneider stated that every of the 700 fueling stations the corporate plans to construct throughout america could be powered by "renewable vitality supplemented by low-carbon grid vitality" utilizing Nel Hydrogen gear. Photo voltaic panels will occupy a outstanding place in all Nikola stations. Schneider then added that the corporate hoped to acquire not less than 30% of its electrical energy from these photo voltaic panels and different types of renewable electrical energy.

After his presentation, Schneider advised Ars that the corporate would goal areas comparable to Arizona, the place low-carbon electrical energy sources, comparable to photo voltaic and nuclear energy, are an essential a part of community vitality, and areas such because the northeast, the place hydropower is dominant. However Nikola won’t keep away from putting in on extra carbon-laden networks – Schneider stated that in circumstances the place fossil fuels have been a serious supply of vitality, Nikola would possible buy compensation from carbon to preserve its "inexperienced" gasoline.

(After all, carbon offsets have their very own issues, however increasingly more public utilities are choosing low-carbon, renewable portfolios, the variety of offsets that Nikola should purchase, for instance, Colorado or Idaho will in all probability drop through the years.)

Storage and Stations

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Nikola Motor Firm

Map of the situation of hydrogen refueling stations in every open station. which tormented the hydrogen gasoline: transport and storage. Nel will present the storage amenities that it believes will ultimately retailer as much as eight tons of H2 per station.

Some hope that such a station will likely be achievable. Lately, Nikola has constructed a one-ton non-public station per day on its property, utilizing Nel gear, which, in keeping with Schneider, is at present the "largest H2 fuel car station in america" . The corporate makes use of the station to carry out fueling checks for heavy hundreds.

Nikola claims that onsite hydrogen manufacturing and storage improves effectivity, notably with respect to diesel and gasoline, which have to be produced in refineries and trucked to stations Throughout the nation.

"Gas cell automobiles are twice as environment friendly as fossil gasoline automobiles," Schneider advised Ars. "Though the electrical effectivity is larger, the issue is the vary.With the vans [all-battery] it’s a must to add about seven tons additional weight.If you happen to produce hydrogen from vitality sources renewable or low-carbon, there is no such thing as a CO2 or little CO2. "

In response to a query from the general public, Schneider stated that an eight-tonne-a-day station would require entry to a 17.6-megawatt (MW) energy, though it might not be obligatory. didn’t element the annual capability elements of various kinds of renewable vitality that might serve such a station. (In different phrases, 17.6 MW of photo voltaic vitality produces a lot much less electrical energy in a single 12 months than 17.6 MW of electrical energy produced by a nuclear energy plant working 24 hours a day, seven days every week.)

Nel President and CEO Løkke added that "the overwhelming majority [of that electricity] … started splitting water". He stated that as much as 95% of the electrical energy utilized by Nel techniques is devoted to H2 formation. "The remainder is sort of negligible in compression and cooling," Løkke stated.

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