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Proton OnSite to supply 13 MW-scale electrolyzers to provide hydrogen for fuel cell bus fueling in China

Proton OnSite signed a contract with Guangdong Synergy Hydrogen Power Technology Co., Ltd. to provide megawatt-scale Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) electrolyzers for the deployment of fuel cell-powered buses in the cities of Foshan and Yunfu, China.

Three of the megawatt systems will ship this summer, and an additional ten systems are planned to ship over the next 18 months, with the opportunity for significant recurring systems to follow. The agreement names Proton as the exclusive supplier of electrolyzers to Synergy and opens discussions for a joint venture to manufacture a portion of Proton’s M Series electrolyzers in Foshan exclusively for the fueling market in China.

Proton’s megawatt-scale M Series electrolyzers (M200 and M400) can accept one and two megawatts (MWs) of power and produce up to 400 Nm3/hr, 864 kg hydrogen per 24 hours (M400). The product was developed with rapid, dynamic response in mind, so that it can adjust to the intermittent nature of renewable energy input.


Synergy has previously licensed fuel cell assembly technology from Ballard Power Systems and is majority owner of a joint venture with Ballard in China. (Earlier post.) Synergy has also begun delivery of Ballard systems for use in powering the world’s largest fuel cell bus program.

We are thrilled that Proton was selected as the exclusive supplier of electrolyzers to support the largest global deployment of fuel cell buses. The Foshan and Yunfu governments demonstrate great vision and leadership by supporting the implementation of leading electrolyzer technology to enable the production of green hydrogen for their mass transit needs. It’s exciting to see how this supports air quality initiatives while contributing to continued economic development.

—Robert Friedland, Proton President and CEO

We selected Proton, the global leader in hydrogen electrolyzer technology, as our exclusive technology partner. The introduction of Proton’s technology to Foshan/Yunfu hydrogen industrial base is a strategic step toward a broader hydrogen economy by providing the possibility to store renewable energy and excess power in the form of hydrogen.

—Ma Dongsheng Frank, CEO of Synergy



This is good news for H2 availability and future FCEVs.

For many reasons, China will most probably become the leader in the production and use of H2 for city buses, trucks, FCEVs and fixed e-networks stabilisation applications.

Competition and normal evolution will reduce the price of H2 to $3.50/Kg. FCs will soon become twice as efficient for less than half the current price. When it does, FCEVs will become common place and compete with extended range BEVs with 125 to 150 kWh battery pack.

REs and H2/FCs make good complementary partners.


Honda and Hyundai could set up stations in southern California to fuel their FCVs and put it all on the map. Make the same model ICE, HEV, PHEV, EV and FCV, gain economies with the base car to lower the costs.


Honda may do just that? If it does, Toyota and Hyundai may follow shortly thereafter?

A mid-size family car + a 5 and/or 7 seat AWD SUV may be enough to start with?

They should join their efforts to develop and install many more clean H2 stations.


California being the testbed for any car fleet, really needs to give hydrogen and alternative fuel cell vehicles a leg up.
There needs to be a consumer grade hydrogen compressor for use at a solar powered home. Most of the solar electricity get wasted on the grid, it would be way better if it was consumed generating hydrogen to fuel their car. Toyota is trying to be the next Tesla with hydrogen fuel cells instead of batteries, but it may be too early for this technology here. When people discover they can power their home at night though the power outlet in the trunk of their Mirai, the litium battery craze will crash. Japan figured this out with Fukisima earthquake blackouts. A rooftop solar array should be able power a couple of kilograms of hydrogen, 8kw system would generate about 1- 1.5 kg of hydrogen/day in summer months. 7 kg a week is 500 miles of driving. This would really change the economics of fuel cell cars and rooftop solar paired together. Its actually apart department of energy long term vision for future home owners.


Yes, the family FCEV could become the ideal storage unit for RE produced H2 and one of the best (extended period) emergency power unit for the home.

Future improved BEVs, with 150 kWh battery pack or so, could also play a similar role for periods up to one week or so.


If the buses are being used for city service, it would probably be better (more efficient and lower cost) to use the Proterra battery electric buses or similar vehicles.


Hi sd.

So long as they can be done at acceptable cost, fuel cell buses are preferable in cities.
The reason for that is that they filter the air, with Hyundai putting one fuel cell bus as enough to take out the particulate pollution of 50 diesel cars.

And even a zero emission vehicle such as a BEV or an FCEV creates quite a bit of non-exhaust emissions, from brake wear which is reduced by regenerative braking, but also from tire wear which is just as bad as from an ICE.

So fuel cell buses are a great way to actively clean the air.

Incidentally, lithium air batteries would do the same thing, but we haven't got them yet!


Mike gives an interesting link to the opinions of Engie, the French energy company, who see renewables really taking off and hitting the fossil fuel industries, and hydrogen being the vital enabler for renewables:

'Hydrogen may be as cheap as liquefied natural gas in less than 10 years, according to Lepercq, who highlighted its ability to turn solar power into transportable fuel.

"We'll have the possibility to transport energy that's produced very cheaply in remote places," Lepercq said. He said he's encouraged by the development of the first liquefied hydrogen carrier by Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. as part of a Japanese plan to import hydrogen from Australia, and believes "hundreds" more will be launched in the coming decade.

In France, Engie recently conducted a "very deep modeling" of the Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur region of 5 million inhabitants, showing it could run entirely on renewables by 2030 for as much as 20 per cent less cost than the current energy system, Lepercq said. Solar, wind, biogas, large-scale battery storage and hydrogen would be key elements. "The promise of quasi-infinite and free energy is here," he said.'



Davemart wrote:

"...fuel cell buses are preferable in cities. The reason for that is that they filter the air, with Hyundai putting one fuel cell bus as enough to take out the particulate pollution of 50 diesel cars."

This does not seem to pass a simple logic test. A diesel engine runs lean, usually less than 50% of stoichiometric, and is somewhat less efficient than a fuel cell which I presume is running a stoichiometric mixture which means that a fuel cell uses less air for the same power than a diesel. It is a little more complicated as a diesel is burning a hydrocarbon which requires 2 O atoms for each carbon while the fuel cell only requires 1 O atom for 2 Hydrogen atoms but this also means that the fuel cell is using less air plus the fuel cell vehicles is running as hybrid vehicle which again makes it more efficient that a diesel. Long story short, the fuel cell vehicle requires considerable less air than a single diesel outputs exhaust.

As a side note, some of the exhaust emission from the new Tier 4 diesels are cleaner than the intake air in some of the more polluted cities. But I would not give that as a reason for having more diesel vehicles.



PEM fuel cells in transport run at around 50% actual average efficiency.

But that is not the reason for the low emissions.

It is because they do not combust it at all, and it is the high temperature combustion which causes the emission problems.

The only emission from fuel cells are water and CO2.

Ethanol fuel cells as they are going to use in the Nissan RE also produce carbon monoxide, but still no NOx or particulates.

There might be a tiny amount of residuals. I am not sure, but emissions other than for tire wear and brakes to the extent that they are not reduced by regenerative braking are effectively eliminated.

Because the oxygen needs to be pure for the fuel cell to work, they have to have very effective filters which is what cleans the air.



You are not reading what I said. I completely understand and am in full agreement with the fact that the only emission from fuel cells is pure water (Hydrogen fuel cells do not emit CO2 and I think that the ethanol fuel cell emit CO2 not CO). I also understand that the intake air for the fuel cells requires a high level of filtration and the nitrogen which is not used in the reaction is clean. However, the amount of clean nitrogen which is exhausted for a similar sized power plant is considerably less than the amount of diesel exhaust which is mostly H20, CO2, and N2 with varying amounts of other pollutants depending on the level of emissions control. Therefore, how can a single fuel cell vehicle clean up the exhaust of 50 diesel engines.


If the French energy company ENGIE is correct, the future of NPPs, CPPs and NGPPs may be at risk.

Using clean H2 to store energy from REs, large fixed FCs to stabilize the networks and more FCEVs could progressively reduce GHG and pollution to 1900 level?

Are we (and others) smart enough to do it?



I'm not really following you.

Are you talking about emissions at the power plant, or from the cars?

I was referring exclusively to the latter.

I think you are talking about the pure products, the hydrogen, carbon and nitrogen.

What are the problems are the nitrous oxides which are created by high temperature combustion, and the particulates, and it is those which are filtered out by the fuel cell air pumps.

Am I making any more sense now? Or am I still not following you?



This has nothing to do with power plants or how the hydrogen is generated. You made the comment that a single fuel cell vehicle would clean the exhaust of 50 diesel vehicles (assumed to be with similar sized power output). I was trying to argue that this does not make sense as the amount of air used (and filtered) by a fuel cell vehicle is less than the amount of exhaust put out by a single diesel engine with a similar power rating. This is because the diesel engine is slightly less efficient than a fuel cell and diesel engines run lean and take in more air than is required for combustion and therefore generate more exhaust than a fuel cell pumps out clean nitrogen. I doubt that the fuel cell filters out nitrous oxides but this is not really important to my argument.


Hi sd.

You are still losing me with:

'diesel engines run lean and take in more air than is required for combustion and therefore generate more exhaust than a fuel cell pumps out clean nitrogen.'

That is the volume of the exhaust.

It seems to me that what counts, and what Hyundai are claiming, is that a fuel cell bus would clean the particulates out for about 50 diesel cars, although whether they are counting that as what they actually turn out or only what they are supposed to turn out I don't know.

It looks as though I was mistaken about nitrous oxides, checking back.

Here is the link to the claim:

' FCEVs are also referred to as ‘running air purifiers’ for their exceptional capacity to reduce fine dust particles. More specifically, a FCEV can purify 20mg of fine dust particles for every kilometer of operation. Therefore, a single FCEV will purify fine dust emitted by two diesel vehicles, while a fuel cell electric bus can purify the amount from up to 50 diesel cars. '


So that puts some numbers on it.

Is that making any sense, or does it still sound all wrong to you?



I read your reference and I understand what they are saying. They are simply saying that with sufficiently dirty air, the fuel cell vehicle is capable of filtering so many mg of fine particles every km or mile it is driven and this might be the equivalent to the particles emitted by so many diesels. However, if the diesel engines had a exhaust particle filter and put out almost no particles, it might clean the air from 1000 or more diesel cars. Anyway, this is a rather bogus claim and is certainly not a claim I would want to quote.

The new Tier 4 final diesel engines have the same property of actually having exhaust that is cleaner than the intake air in some of the more polluted cities in the world but I would not recommend running more diesel engines to clean the air.

Anyway, I will stick my initial comment that they would be off running Battery Electric Buses instead of Fuel Cell Buses. Look at the ABB article further up the column. In my opinion, this makes much more sense but the Proterra buses probably have enough range for a full day's operation without intermittent recharging.


The claim that ICE engines will clean the air is very different to the same claim for fuel cell vehicles, as the ICE does not just filter the air, but also creates particles from combustion, whilst the fuel cell doesn't.

I am aware of no filtration system for diesels which can take out all the particulates from the hot exhaust, or legislation would obviously make them do so, and on the contrary car makers like VW are now indicating that they will reduce efforts on diesels as they can't economically clean them to the required standard now that they are tightening up on cheating.

Filtering cold air entering the system is clearly not the same as filtering hot exhaust gases, and fuel cell cars do that, and BEVs don't.

Therefore my claim that fuel cell buses if costs are OK are a better choice for cities than BEV buses would appear to stand, unless you can show that Hyundai's claims that they would filter out the average particulate emissions per kilometre of many diesel cars are false, which I can't see that you have done so far.



Many of the new Tier 4 Final engines have DPF systems which stands for diesel particle filter and do filter particles (soot) from the exhaust and periodically burn off the accumulated soot. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diesel_particulate_filter Also many diesel engines have SCR which is selective catalytic reduction which gets rid of NOx.

Anyway, Hyundai's claim is simply playing with numbers in that it will accumulate up to some many milligrams of particles per mile driven. You could probably make the same type of claim that a diesel engine with a SCR system would eliminate NOx from the atmosphere but I would consider both of the claims as rather bogus.

Last post on this subject from me.


Out of thousands of cubic meters of exhaust there are a few grams of pollution. That is how a bus fuel cell can clean so much, it runs 24/7 cleaning the pollution from the air.


Daves original post accurately quoted hyundai statement as 5 not 50.

There concerns over FAKE NEWS and European legislators are hoping to fine facebook $750,000. if they don't promptly remove fake news when they are notified.

That's a whole other story but indicates just how fed up we are and the penalty reflects the harm done.

Dieselgate anyone?

Checkout comment 13


Or just read repost below.

"Better late than never, I would suggest that the only way a fuel cell intake can filter the emissions of even one diesel (or any other I.C.E. regardless of size) is to have the exhaust fed directly to the FC air intake. It would need to take 100% of the exhaust to remove th particles. That is never going to happen in the real world.

But hey we are all stupid - right?

If it sounds too good ........

Wonder if the Hyundai 'boss'who made the claim ( reminds me of similar S.A.A.B & Volvo claims that found them in court) was he just scamming , is a fool or being a 'boss' his underlings couldn't stump up the truth?"


I accept that the numbers are far from firm.

Just the same, it is clear that fuel cell vehicles carry out a cleaning function of the air they take in, and don't add to it by combustion of their own, as an ICE car does, whilst BEVs are neutral in the game.

The air intake of buses and cars are near to the ground and pull in air from exactly where you would wish to do so if you were designing an air cleaning system for the heavy accumulations of particulates in dense city traffic where the air on major roads is heavy with particulates, which is exactly what is causing the concern as they are shown to be in enough density to impact health.

So it seems to me that there is cleaning taking place which does not happen with a BEV, although there are legitimate questions about the extent.


It IS a benefit whether 5 or 50. How many 2.0l diesels did VW cheat on? Well we can clean that up with lots of fuel cell buses.


200,000+ FCEVs operating daily in large city cores, plus 10,000 FC/taxis and 1,000+ FC/buses could do a good job cleaning up some air pollution created by others?

Would be more than welcomed in many major cities in China, Japan, Mexico etc.

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