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Symbio intros 40 kW hydrogen fuel cell range-extending module for heavy-duty electric vehicles

At the Movin’On 2018 mobility summit in Montreal, hydrogen fuel-cell company Symbio intoduced a 40-kW fuel cell system—H2Motiv L—targeting range-extending conversion applications for heavy-duty electric vehicles.


Symbio has a great deal of experience with using hydrogen fuel cells as range extenders. Symbio currently has several hundred converted Renault Kangoo ZE Maxi light electric commercial vehicles equipped with a 22 kWh battery pack and 5 kW hydrogen fuel range extender with 2.08 kg H2 at 700 bar in service in Europe. (Earlier post.) In 2017, Symbio integrated a 15 kW (net) fuel cell range extender in a Nissan e-NV200 electric van, with plans to introduce the vehicle to the European taxi market.


Based on a 40 kW hydrogen fuel cell designed to fit into vans, heavy-duty vehicles, buses, as well as SUVs i.e. for taxi usage, H2Motiv L provides these vehicles with a number of advantages, Symbio says:

  • Hydrogen refueling in about 10 minutes;

  • Battery life that is three times greater compared to its equivalent, regardless of the season (or use of heating).

  • Low impact on the loading weight and volume due in particular to the compactness of the kit, which makes the vehicle similar to a classic combustion powered model.

  • Similar use to that of a conventional vehicle due to the power (40 kW).


The new Symbio kit has been especially adapted to address the challenges of manufacturers who wish to position themselves in the zero- emission mobility market, in terms of:

  • Quality. The hydrogen fuel cell meets the highest standards of an automobile (durability, shock resistance, vibration, hot or cold weather etc.) Symbio oringally worked with fuel cell technology from France’s CEA; the company has now switched to fuel cell technology developed by Michelin, which is an investor in Symbio.

  • Balance of plant (BOP) optimization. Auxiliary functions are optimized for system operation (power conversion, cooling, preheating, air compression). The kit is packaged with its power electronics unit for the conversion of fuel cell power for the battery.

  • Integration. H2Motiv L is quickly installed because the system (hydrogen fuel cell and auxiliary functions) is pre-integrated. The kit utilizes the vehicle’s CAN bus.

  • Related services. Symbio has the ability to support the manufacturer's service providers upon the arrival of vehicles equipped with hydrogen systems as well as train its sales teams. o Its digital platform enables customer-specific services and reduces maintenance costs. Additionally, after-sales teams can perform remote diagnostics and updates as well as implement predictive maintenance strategies.



In my view a fuel cell RE is a clearly superior way of getting decent range compared to trying to stuff in more batteries, certainly for commercial use.

The battery only meme did not work


These small FCs are ideal to extend all weather range of most current BEVs and get free clean heat for drivers/passengers., without adding another 50 to 100 kWh of heavy costly batteries.


A small fuel cell with reformer could extend the 60 mile range of a 2011 LEAF to 600 miles.


A fuel cell is more expensive than a small, clean ICE.  Fuels like methanol and propane are far easier to handle than hydrogen, and much cheaper.  At the level of consumption that a battery-dominant system would require, such fuels are quite sustainable.  We shouldn't be bothering with hydogen.


Clean storable H2 could be produced at a much lower cost, using excess/surplus clean e-energy and heat from 300 to 400 current NPPs.

Alternatively, excess/surplus e-energy from REs and Hydro could also be used in many places.

Near future FCs may be as light or lighter than batteries and certainly be more appropriate for extended range vehicles in cold weather conditions. Electric vehicles equipped with FCs as range extender could/may be the best of both world.


Converting electric power to H2 and back means more than 50% losses, plus hardware.  This can NEVER be "cheap".  It may occasionally be useful, but those uses will be a lot more costly than using the power as it's made.

The USA uses about 9.2 million barrels of motor gasoline per day.  PHEVs can certainly replace 2/3 of this with electricity (I've done better than that), likely 3/4 with good support.  This leaves between 3.1 and 2.6 mmbbl/d of demand to be met by other means.  Liquid biofuels are all but certain to be cheaper than electrolytic hydrogen, and vastly easier to make, ship and store.  This is obvious to anyone with subject-matter knowledge.  The only reason to push hype-drogen is to keep the market open for SMR hydrogen or even coal gasification.  These things represent climate suicide and must be stamped out.


The grid is 40% transmit it, convert it then store it you are down to 30%.


Amongst a host of other technologies which are rapidly developing to produce hydrogen economically from renewables we have this within the last couple of days:

So the electrolysers are becoming cheap enough to only be used when surplus renewables are available, which opens up whole realms of possibility as the problem with solar and wind is when it is not sunny or windy.

Anyone fancying that they are so all knowing that with a wave of the hand it is appropriate to dismiss whole fields of technology is a fool.

The grid is 40%
The US grid lost 235 TWh while delivering 3902 TWh in 2017, for a net transmission efficiency of 94.3%.

Stop talking out your ass, SJC.

So the electrolysers are becoming cheap enough to only be used when surplus renewables are available

They don't get rid of the problem of low round-trip efficiency, which multiplies the cost of energy out of storage.  Even if the amortization is free, you have to add the cost of the storage of whatever your product is (and the losses in conversion from hydrogen to anything else, if you do so).  And if "renewables" are going to be in surplus most of the time they're producing, they won't be able to stay in business on the low wholesale rates that situation creates.  That will require subsidies, which are just way to transfer costs.

Suppose your electrolyzers let you set up a system to buy all the wind power the farms can make at 2.5¢/kWh.  Your electrolyzer is 65% efficient, so the hydrogen costs 3.85¢/kWh.  You convert this to methane so you can store it long-term in geological formations; this is 78% efficient so the methane costs 4.93¢/kWh.

4.93¢/kWh is $1.44 per therm, about twice the delivered price of natural gas where I am and multiples of the Henry Hub price; this is not affordable for heating.  If you convert the methane back to electricity at 62% LHV (55.2% HHV), the methane alone costs you 8.93¢/kWh.  "Cheap" renewable energy?  Cheap, reliable, renewable:  pick any two.

In contrast, nuclear-fired cogenerating hot water systems should be able to operate at an energy cost around 3¢/therm.


I have supported nuclear energy for 50 plus years.

If they are not building them in the West in any quantity, then that is the reality which needs to be dealt with, and I refuse to get into discussion about stuff which is not happening.

Whether I think it is the best course of action or not, renewables are what is being built, so I am interested in technologies which can deal with their intermittency, and chemical storage is about the only practical way.

The very pure CO2 stream from stationary fuel cells also makes storage and reuse of carbon far more economic and practical for the NG back up.

None of it is the way I would have done things, but I don't rule the world and so deal with it as it is.

And renewables production in particular of hydrogen is falling in price at an astonishing rate, after great progress for many years.



I consider ~12c / kWh (8.93c + OM) from synthetic methane acceptable since:
1) you can very likely recover some of that cost by selling the process heat (cogen)
2) we don't need that much of this kind of electricity anyway (proper mix of solar and wind regionally should minimize the need) so it can be mixed with the very cheap RE electricity that is used up immediately (so the average rate is still low).

Yes, it is inefficient but it is good enough and allows 100% renewable grids today.

Nuclear is a non-starter until waste reprocessing is properly solved and safety reaches the level where it can be insured against the full possible liability without any state support (like renewables). So, its 3c/kWh production cost is irrelevant due to its externities. The current fleet should only be allowed to operate until it can be phased out without positive CO2 effect.

I consider ~12c / kWh (8.93c + OM) from synthetic methane acceptable

Your opinion on its acceptability doesn't matter.  What matters is if you can run an industrial economy on it, and replicate and expand the industrial base which uses such energy.  This has not been demonstrated, period.

1) you can very likely recover some of that cost by selling the process heat (cogen)

So get Germany or Denmark or some other test-case to demonstrate that said waste heat is marketable and pays for itself and enables a fully renewable industrial economy.  Because if you CAN'T make it work but still advocate for it, you are putting literally billions of lives at risk.

2) we don't need that much of this kind of electricity anyway

Buried somewhere in the thousands of bookmarks I can no longer search by tag since the asses at Mozilla made TagSieve unusable, I have an analysis of the implications of all-renewable economies.  One of those implications is that lossy storage systems require a MAJORITY of the power to be sold to the storage operators; in short, you need LOTS of that kind of electricity no matter how much you try to wish it away.

it is inefficient but it is good enough and allows 100% renewable grids today.

PROVE IT.  Go somewhere where a majority wants to be a test case and MAKE IT HAPPEN.  I'm from Missouri; SHOW ME.

If your scheme is so great, why aren't Denmark and Germany running on it already?  Why are both of their carbon emissions so stubbornly high?  Why do they have some of the highest retail electric rates in the industrial world?  After spending all this money on "environmentalism", why are both of them still burning COAL?


(posting in pieces to find out what the auto-censor is choking on)

Nuclear is a non-starter until waste reprocessing is properly solved

Funny, it's people like you who demand that reprocessing not happen because it extracts plutonium.  Neither do I see you demanding a solution for the e-waste from PV.  Do you have any idea how many people are going to be poisoned by leakage from discarded cadmium sulfide cells?  PV systems use (and discard) a lot more poisons than nuclear does, and that huge waste volume cannot be isolated as well or cheaply as used nuclear fuel.  Also, it is composed of ELEMENTAL poisons which do not decay.  Nuclear waste abates by itself; PV's chemical wastes are poisonous forever.

and safety reaches the level where it can be insured against the full possible liability without any state support (like renewables).

SHOW ME the chemical plant that is insured against its full possible liability.  Heck, show me the fuel tank farm that is (and storage requirements for fickle "renewables" are going to require farms with lots of tanks)!  There are hundreds, even thousands of Bhopals and West Texas chemical company disasters just waiting to happen, and NONE of them are insured against the worst possible outcome.  S**t happens, the victims get the ceiling payout and the (now-worthless) company liquidates.  ONLY nuclear is held to a higher standard.

The worst-ever commercial nuclear power plant accident in the USA had zero injuries, let alone fatalities.  Nobody died from radiation at Fukushima either.  The worst you can point to in the US or Japan is something on the order of the SL-1 incident, where some clueless people unwittingly re-created the deliberate destruction of the BORAX-1 reactor, albeit much less severely.

its 3c/kWh production cost is irrelevant due to its externities.

You make 2 major errors.

  1. The cost is not 3¢/kWh (3.6 MJ), it is roughly 3¢/therm (~105 MJ).  This is an immense difference in cost.
  2. There are no significant externalities of nuclear energy besides immediate waste heat.  Nuclear, and ONLY nuclear, is required—and ABLE—to account for and sequester all its persistent products.  "Renewables" do nothing of the sort, and would be shut down immediately if required to.

Given the vast difference in consequences, if you think nuclear should be phased OUT you are an environmental criminal.  It should be pushed IN wherever human capital allows it to be run properly.  Those populations without sufficient human capital should, I suppose, be forced to run on "renewables"... and also forbidden to migrate to places run by people more capable than they are.  Yes, Bangladeshis are not Japanese and should not be treated the same.  Some many consider this unfortunate, but it's a fact and we have to deal with it.  Denying facts simply Does. Not. Work.

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