By Gary S. Vasilash
One of the fuels that doesn’t get a whole lot of attention—despite it being the most-abundant element in the universe (yes, universe)—is hydrogen. There are a few hydrogen cars out there—like the Toyota Mirai and the Hyundai Nexo—and a few commercial trucks running tests (e.g., Toyota with the Port of Long Beach; Nikola with Anheuser-Busch).
While electrical outlets are seemingly everywhere and access to hydrogen fueling facilities is challenging at best, the idea of electrifying the fleet has become the norm and hydrogen is something of an afterthought.
However, Mike Mansuetti, president of Bosch in North America, announced, “We are all in for the hydrogen economy.”
Bosch on a global basis is investing $1-billion between 2021 and 2024 on the development of mobile fuel cells.
What’s more, in order to produce hydrogen (although there’s lots of hydrogen out there, hydrogen tends to bond with other things like oxygen, as in water), Bosch is investing some $600 million by 2030 in developing hydrogen electrolysis (the means by which water can be transformed back into its constituent elements).
Will these efforts result in more crossovers and cars with fuel cell stacks within the next few years?
It’s not likely.
According to Bosch’s Paul Thomas, executive vp of Mobility Solutions, America, the commercial applications, where there is a regular, defined route, and where there can be refueling stations built and regularly used (no company is going to want to build out a hydrogen refueling facility that gets used only once in a great while), are more likely to be where hydrogen will gain traction.
That said, there’s something that Bosch is doing that is quite interesting: the company, long known for its prowess in fuel injection technology, is, Mansuetti said, experimenting with hydrogen injection in internal combustion engines.
Think of all of the engine plants that OEMs have right now.
Were it that they could use that capacity to produce engines that burn hydrogen (no emissions) rather than gasoline, that might be a really compelling reason to make hydrogen a viable alternative to electricity. After all, they’ve already paid for all of that machinery and equipment, so if hydrogen would help them reduce their carbon footprint and meet regulatory requirements, why not?
Probably not because they seem so committed to battery electric vehicles and fuel cell electric vehicles would be too much to deal with.