On 17th August a Korean consortium, which consists of KIMM, KAIST, Seoul Bus, JNE Works, and LATTICE Technology, announced an MOU that aims to develop technology for LH2-based fueling stations and demonstrate fuel cell buses powered by liquid hydrogen (LH2), to make a quantum leap in hydrogen utilization market.
KIMM (Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials), who is building Korea’s first LH2 production plant at 500 kg/day capacity, will design the LH2 systems of the buses and stations, develop the core devices, and supply LH2 for the demonstration. The supplied LH2 will be stored in lattice pressure vessels (LPVs), the world’s first free-shape pressure tank introduced by KAIST and commercialized by LATTICE Technology. The LPVs will be designed to minimize the installation space by fitting the spaces available in the bus and at the fueling stations, thereby saving considerable costs. JNE Works will be responsible for the energy management system that will be customized to each of the buses analyzing the power loads for driving, heating and cooling. Seoul Bus will integrate the solutions provided by the other partners together with its own vehicle system technology, to demonstrate the LH2-powered fuel cell bus. KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) will back this project through rigorous system modelling and a techno-economic feasibility study, taking into account long-term technology advancements and cost reductions.
Dr. Choi of KIMM, who is the principal investigator of Korea’s first LH2 production plant supported by Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, emphasizes the importance of LH2 infrastructure.
As the hydrogen economy grows, we need to produce, store, transport, and utilize hydrogen at scale. The LH2 infrastructure we develop will be the cornerstone for the hydrogen economy to achieve its economies of scale. This project utilizing LH2 for public transportation will be the first important step.
Mr. Cho, the serving CEO of Seoul Bus, that operates about 200 city buses and airport buses, has high expectations.
Unremarkably, the public transportation sector is also under intense pressure to move to zero emissions. However, the industry is burdened with other critical constraints such as fueling time, driving range, and space limitation. The LH2-based solution is attractive in solving these constraints. Bus transport companies in the metropolitan Seoul region operate 5,000 buses and they are waiting for the success of this project.
Mr. Hong, CEO of JNE Works, that has accumulated experience in managing fuel cells and battery systems, explains the customized energy management system (EMS). “Each bus runs a fixed path, resulting in a unique power load profile, meaning that the EMS should be custom designed and operated for each bus. We will take up this challenge in this project.”
Dr. Chang, the co-founder of LATTICE Technology with Dr. Bergan and Professor of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at KAIST, clarifies the mission of his group.
LH2 tanks requiring vacuum insulation are the most serious obstacle to achieving a global-scale hydrogen economy. LATTICE Technology and KAIST put top priority on developing LH2 containment solutions and related systems across the whole LH2 supply chain, from very small tanks for vehicles’ fuel LH2 tanks to very large LH2 cargo tanks for intercontinental LH2 shipping.
If this project initiated by the MOU proves to be commercially feasible, Korea will mark another jump in its hydrogen economy. Achieving economies of scale for hydrogen through transition to an LH2-based supply chain is not new, and several Korean energy companies have declared their plan to produce LH2 by 2023. This project can be the first case to link all segments of the LH2 supply chain from production via transport and storage to utilization. This concept can also be extended without major changes to LH2-powered express buses, heavy trucks and large drones.