Johnson Matthey building £80M hydrogen fuel cell component gigafactory
24 July 2022
Johnson Matthey (JM) is building an £80-million (US$96-million ) gigafactory at its existing site in Royston, UK, to scale up the manufacture of hydrogen fuel cell components. Earlier this year, JM announced a refreshed strategy, with an ambition to be the market leader in performance components for fuel cells and electrolyzers, targeting more than £200 million sales in hydrogen technologies by end of 2024/25.
The gigafactory will initially be capable of manufacturing 3GW of proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell components annually for hydrogen vehicles and is supported by the UK Government through the Automotive Transformation Fund (ATF).
The APC forecasts that the UK will need 14GW of fuel cell stack production and 400,000 high pressure carbon fiber tanks annually to meet local vehicle production demands by 2035 while the market expects that there could be as many as 3 million fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) on the road globally by 2030.
The investment will safeguard highly skilled manufacturing jobs in the UK. The site is expected to be in operation by H1, 2024.
The new facility at Royston will deploy state-of-the-art manufacturing processes to scale up production of fuel cell components and to meet customer demand. The site could be expanded in the future, almost tripling potential capacity by using the decommissioned Clean Air production facility, to produce both fuel cell and green hydrogen components.
Road freight accounts for about 9% of global CO2 emissions, with 62% arising from medium and heavy-duty trucking—the hardest-to-abate transport segments. Hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) provide similar benefits to existing technology such as fast refueling and long range but emit zero curbside CO2 or other pollutants, so they are a popular option for decarbonizing heavy-duty commercial vehicles and are core to a net zero future.
Fuel cells, of which there are a variety not all of which employ any precious metals at all, are at a far earlier stage of the S-shaped cost reduction curve than batteries.
Simply with increased volume, technological improvements aside, we can expect substantial ongoing cost reduction, as we can in the allied field of electrolysis.
Posted by: Davemart | 24 July 2022 at 02:45 AM
“. . . in the allied field of electrolysis.“
Good point Davemart,
Even if hydrogen fuel cells are not used in ground transportation, their use in “Green Hydrogen” is needed and important. Steel production, Ammonia, other chemicals, and Sustainable Aviation Fuel are just a few areas.
There is one more application where the relative inefficiency of fuel cells becomes a benefit - Combined Heat and Power. Heat pumps and APU in aircraft. These may be like a hydrogen battery similar to what LAVO in Australia has done.
For eVTOL fuel cells could act as a range extender and cabin heater
Posted by: Gryf | 24 July 2022 at 09:54 AM
Just so. For some applications, for instance the hundreds of thousands of home fuel cells already installed in Japan, the combined electrical plus thermal efficiency exceeds 90%.
Even in cars, buses and trucks in cold weather the battery is kept at optimum temperature as well as the occupants cosy.
And the 'inefficiencies' of the hydrogen production chain etc don't account for that much of the energy is currently thrown away, so you are in fact improving on 100% waste.
And even in worst case scenarios, with little use of excess heat etc, and assuming pretty much static technology, we still come out to ball park the same overall efficiencies as current fossil fuels, but without the global warming and other nasties.
We managed at those efficiencies for the past couple of hundred years or so, and just as it has over that time period, we have good reason to expect that efficiencies will continue to increase.
Electricity and batteries everywhere for everything is just not on the cards.
Posted by: Davemart | 24 July 2022 at 02:22 PM