December 2, 2023

A secure energy transition needs the involvement of a variety of disciplines that include human, physical social, economic, life and earth sciences, with a particular focus on include the end-user at the forefront of technological development. In the ULHyS project (Universite of Lorraine Hydrogene Sciences and Technologies) which is a part of the University of Lorraine brings together approximately ten labs around five research areas, ranging from hydrogen production and deployment to territorial. In this regard, a number of ULHys participants were allowed to tour the hydrogen-filled station FaHyence in Sarreguemines.

It was officially inaugurated in April of 2017. FaHyence was the very first station for fuel in Europe that generates hydrogen through electrolysis in the site, by using renewable green energy sources of energy supplied through Electricity of France (EDF). The station can handle a load of 40 kilos of hydrogen a day, which is the requirement of 20-25 vehicles a day charging pressures ranging from 350 to 420 bar.

Illustration of filling station is published with the kind permission of EIFER. EIFER. The author has of the sketch.

About 350km of ranges without greenhouse gas emissions

Additional hydrogen fuel stations located in France includes the HyWay project that has been operating from summer 2018 on the CEA (French Alternative Energy and Atomic Energy Commission) site in Grenoble and two more are in construction at Rodez as well as Nantes. FaHyence comes from collaboration with EDF, EIFER, McPhy, Symbio Fcell and the Urban Conglomeration of Sarreguemines Confluences (CASC). To ensure continuous operation of the gas station, approximately 10 hydrogen vehicles are operating within the urban conglomeration. Electric Kangoo ZE (Renault) equipped with Symbio Fcell and an energy cell that acts as a range extender. Its PEM (polymer electrolyte membrane) type fuel cells operate with pure hydrogen and, consequently, emit no greenhouse gases that can reach up to 350 km, which is 200 km due to the 33kWh Li-ion battery, and 150 km with five kWh PEMFC connected to an 1.8 kilogram hydrogen tank that is pressurized by 350 bar.

Even if the station isn’t no cost or isn’t, any vehicle French, European or international powered by hydrogen could recharge following a simple authorization to the CASC with one obvious benefit: hydrogen filling is totally free. In the end, nine more utility vehicles were purchased within the last few months by other professional partners within the group, and a number of individuals German and Belgian users have already topped off their tanks at Sarreguemines.

FaHyence is its contribution to the H2ME (Hydrogen Mobility Europe) project, which is funded through the European program FCH JU (Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking) that aims to install the first 49 hydrogen-filled filling stations as well as 1400 vehicles across the EU by the year 2020. Hydrogen represents the third section in the sustainability program of FaHyence apart from bio-methane and electricity. It is a dazzling living lab and a clear use case for hydrogen technology.

A full tank in four minutes flat

The process of learning for users to use the filling devices have done so effortlessly. The interface is traditional and the method is comparable to traditional systems that use fossil fuels has helped to reduce the period of adaptation. It is still in need of improvements regarding ergonomics and interactions, but the principle remains relatively simple. When compared to the long hours of charging required for traditional battery-powered electric vehicles for example, the 4 minutes required to fill the tank of a vehicle with hydrogen seems to be more than adequate.

The station has an electrolyser made of alkaline that has an output capacity of 1.8 kg/h, which is requiring fifty litres of water to kilogram of hydrogen produced. There is also two levels of compressors, the one that is capable of reaching pressures up to 30 bar, while the second one with cooling systems which can cool down to -20degC that allows pressures as high as 420 bar. This compressor comes with two significant advantages. First, it permits filling not only hydrogen vehicles with a pressure of 350 bars (case of FC-EV, such as that of the Kangoo ZE), but in addition, with some limitations on volume, electric vehicles that operate with hydrogen, which require filling pressures up to 700 bar, and achieving ranges of around 450 km (case of FCV like such as the Toyota Mirai, the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell and the Hyundai Nexo …). Another benefit can be that the system of cooling cuts the filling time down to 4 minutes, compared to seven with systems that operate at ambient temperatures.

A gas station that has not been tapped for its potential and could very easily be competitive

“Hydrogen technology itself is not the limiting factor”, says Christian Hector, head of the technical services of Cofluences and the initiator for the project FaHyence. “The most constraining element is the electrolyser”. The average is 2.2 fuelings per day which is less than five percent of its actual capacity this station is clearly under-exploited. In the end, the cost per filling is too expensive to compete against traditional stations. However, the cost per kilogram of hydrogen is dependent on the local conditions, at Sarreguemines the cost is 10 euros per kilogram, while the average across the nation is around 6 euros per kilogram. Be aware that it requires around 1 kg of hydrogen for it to travel 100km.

To make the station efficient, at least 30 vehicles per day filling up their tanks would be needed. “But the economic profit was not the motivation of this project,” Hector says. Hector. “The purpose was to test electric mobility in a cross-border context, as well as to validate the technical reliability of a hydrogen gas station in combination with an electrolyser on-site”. Even if the future for the station, whose funding expires in 2020, remains unclear The goals were met because of the determination that is Hector and his team of green mobility in the CASC.

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