The Race to Retail Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology, Production, and Distribution – Part 3

The trend in innovation for retail hydrogen fuel cell technology, production, and distribution has accelerated since publishing Part 1 (Twitter thread) in 2019 and Part 2 (thread) in 2020. What has also come to fruition since then are hybrid-combustion engines that run on hydrogen and gasoline and the ability to convert existing gasoline engines to a hydrogen-hybrid. As global demand for energy is projected to double in the future, hydrogen is being recognized as a zero-carbon and zero-emission necessity that is scalable and will be included in a broad spectrum of energy producing sources. There’s also a lot of successful research and development, such as a solar-powered device that produces 99% pure hydrogen directly from moisture in the atmosphere that’s ideal in regions where water on land is scarce. Best of all, hydrogen-powered vehicles outperform electric vehicles (EVs).

No automaker has placed a bigger bet on hydrogen-powered vehicles than Toyota, and it’s leading the race in the new car category for consumers with the hydrogen-electric hybrid rear-wheel drive Mirai that refuels at a hydrogen station. The company does not sell any single-battery electric vehicles in the U.S. and is developing hydrogen fuel cells for commercial vehicles. The Mirai runs on hydrogen, and its only by-product is water. When you start the car, hydrogen travels to the Fuel Cell Stack, where it combines with oxygen from the outside air to create zero-emission electricity.” The company’s stock price ($TM) has rallied 20% this month.

Mirai Hydrogen Electric Hybrid Engine


Two weeks ago, the Toyota Gazoo Racing team unveiled its hydrogen-powered GR H2 (today’s headline image) racecar that is making its debut in the world’s greatest race, the Le Mans, in 2026. The company has basically owned the Le Mans competition for the last decade.

“Yes, that’s H2 as in hydrogen. And it previews a plan to go burning gas – or more likely liquid hydrogen – at Le Mans 2026, now that race organizers the ACO have confirmed hydrogen engines will be allowed to complete alongside fuel-cell vehicles in the forthcoming hydrogen categoryToyota has, in fact, been racing a hydrogen-burning (if that’s the right phrase) Corolla in Japan’s Super Taikyu series since 2021, and also demoed a hydrogen-powered GR Yaris in late 2022. Both efforts to outline the potential of liquid hydrogen as a fuel. For the Le Mans effort, the hydrogen power will be combined with a hybrid system, as all other top-flight Le Mans racers have done for years. Still a handy bit of messaging for Toyota, as the king of the hybrid pioneers… Toyota chairman Akio Toyoda was on hand for the reveal and is clearly very enthusiastic about the project. ‘My goal,’ he said ‘is to achieve carbon neutrality in motorsports without sacrificing anything in terms of performance or excitement.’” – Car Magazine U.K., Jun. 16, 2023

Toyota has something new in the pipeline that is likely to make EVs obsolete. It is a hydrogen-fueled V-8 engine.

A Large Hydrogen Powered V-8 Is In The Works… “In exciting news to gearheads everywhere, Toyota has partnered with Yamaha Motor to develop a hydrogen-fueled V-8 engine. In an announcement earlier this year, Yamaha said the 5.0-liter V-8 would be based on the one used by the Lexus RC Coupe, with modifications to its cylinder heads and fuel injectors, among other things. Yamaha claims it’ll produce 455 horsepower at 6,800 rpm and 398 pound-feet of torque at 3,600 rpm. That’s a bit less power than the original gasoline V-8 that it’s based on, but still quite respectable. But the most stunning feature of the hydrogen V-8 has to be the eight-into-one top-mounted exhaust manifold, which Yamaha claims creates a distinct high-frequency sound.” – Top Speed, May 27, 2003

Toyota is also targeting heavy-duty fuel cells for Class 8 trucks, but when it comes to 18-wheelers hauling freight that require serious horsepower, Cummins ($CMI) leads the pack with a 15-liter hydrogen internal combustion engine (ICE) and a 6.7-liter for smaller vehicles.

“Companies working to achieve their decarbonization goals are increasingly interested in hydrogen engines. Over the past year, leading companies like Tata Motors, Buhler Industries and Werner Enterprises have expressed interest in Cummins 15-liter hydrogen engine. More leading companies can take advantage of hydrogen-powered solutions to decarbonize as these technologies become more cost-friendly and widely available.”

A hydrogen ICE functions similarly to a diesel ICE, although hydrogen is burned the same way that traditional ICE vehicles burn natural gas or gasoline. A diesel ICE does not have spark plugs and a hydrogen ICE does, so you cannot convert a traditional diesel ICE to hydrogen or hybrid. Cummins is developing an economical ICE solution for multi-fuel applications that’s a fuel-agnostic engine platform to facilitate zero-emission technology goals.

“There is no single solution or ‘magic bullet’ that will work for all application types or all end users… Fuel-agnostic engine platforms will feature a series of engine versions that are derived from a common base engine, which means they have a high degree of parts commonality. Below the head gasket of each engine will largely have similar components and above the head gasket will have different components for different fuel types. Each engine version will operate using a different, single fuel. This new design approach will be applied across the company’s legendary B, L and X-Series engine portfolios, which will be available for diesel, natural gas, and hydrogen… No matter what type of work a fleet does, we’ll have an engine powered by lower carbon fuels with diesel-like performance to get the job done.”

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The development and distribution of hydrogen is also gaining ground as various countries and companies make large capital investments that cater to the burgeoning hydrogen industry. Numerous examples can be found in Part 2’s Twitter thread, and I will highlight a few of the most recent today.

The Netherlands announced this week that state-backed firms will pour capital into creating two $1 billion green hydrogen funds in Namibia and South Africa, which will take a stake in developing their industry that’s expected to supply Europe with hydrogen.

Over in Norway, Norsk Hydro ASA (OTC $NHYDY) made the world’s first batch of aluminum utilizing hydrogen that decarbonized the production of the metal. The company replaced natural gas with hydrogen at its extrusion plant in Spain in partnership with engineering firm Fives North America Combustion (aka Fives).

Oman is on track to become one of the largest global hydrogen exporters and has the renewable resources to produce it cheaply. An International Energy Agency (IEA) report claims that Oman is positioned to become the largest exporter of hydrogen and its derivatives in the Middle East by 2030 and the sixth-largest globally. By using onshore wind and solar, the country is strategically located with access to key import markets like Europe and Japan.

Boeing is making bets on startup Equatic for a massive CO2 removal and hydrogen deal. The five-year deal will have Equatic remove 62k metric tons of carbon dioxide for Boeing and supply it with 2,100 metric tons of green hydrogen generated as a byproduct of its technology. Other private companies are Equatic’s competitors, which include Climeworks, Charm, and CarbFix. They are all using various technologies to extract hydrogen from the atmosphere and/or seawater.

New York has joined six other northeast states that are competing to be part of a group proposal for a regional clean hydrogen hub with $1 billion in federal funds on the table. New York, New Jersey, Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, and Massachusetts submitted a group proposal to land a share of $8 billion in funds made available by the infrastructure bill passed by Congress. The Department of Energy will award state proposals later this year and recognize the Northeast Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub.

Nikola Corp. ($NKLA) is based in Arizona and has begun work on hydrogen plants for a fueling network that will capitalize on the zero-emissions truck market. It also signed up several hydrogen producers that will work to provide Nikola vehicles in various parts of the U.S. and Canada. The supply network is crucial because Nikola is assembling its hydrogen fuel-cell electric trucks that are slated to hit the market by 2024. The company is scaling back production of EVs and already has orders for 1k hydrogen trucks, with 800 going to Anheuser-Busch in Nevada.

The hydrogen market is heating up. As mentioned in my previous articles, now is not the time to be complacent about doing due diligence in research on what companies to invest with that are driving the hydrogen train. There are many forecasts to be found out there about the hydrogen industry’s potential going forward. A recent report published by Deloitte sees the hydrogen market surpassing the value of the liquid natural gas trade by 2030 and reaching $1.4 trillion by 2050.

Deloitte Hydrogen Market White Paper Graphic

ChatGPT says that investing in hydrogen is a good bet for the clean energy transition with a focus on energy storage solutions, government support and investment, and the potential in emerging markets. Here’s my own watchlist to keep an eye on and any stock symbol that I hyperlinked above. Sorted by average daily volume:

  • $PLUG – Plug Power Inc. – 24.2mln (Inception Oct. 1999)
  • $FCEL – FuelCell Energy, Inc. – 12.2mln (Aug. 1992)
  • $BE – Bloom Energy Corp. – 4.9mln (Jul. 2018)
  • $BLDP – Ballard Power Systems Inc. – 3.2mln (Dec. 1995)
  • $LIN – Linde – 1.5mln (Aug. 1992)
  • $APD – Air Products and Chemicals – 873k (Dec. 1984)
  • $HTOO – Fusion Fuel Green PLC – 89k (Dec. 2020)
  • $HYDR – Global X Hydrogen ETF – 41k (Jul. 2021)
  • $HDRO – Defiance Next Gen H2 ETF – 24k (Mar. 2021)
  • $NLLSF – Nel – 23k (Apr. 2018 OTC)
  • $ITMPF – ITM Power – 22k (Sep. 2004 OTC)
  • $HJEN – Direxion Hydrogen ETF – 11k (Mar. 2021)

Can hydrogen help the world reach net zero? – Financial Times, Jun. 14, 2023


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