GHD Granted Canadian, Australian and UK Patents for Combined Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle Fueling, Electric Vehicle Fast Charging and Fuel Cell Back-Up Power Forecourt

GHD, a professional services company operating in the global markets of water, energy and resources, environment, property and buildings, and transportation, announced it has been granted a patent by the Commissioner of Patents for the Canadian, Australian and UK governments for combined hydrogen fuel cell vehicle fueling, electric vehicle (EV) fast-charging and fuel cell back-up power forecourt.

The patented system integrates hydrogen dispensers for fueling Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCVs) and a Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell (PEM FC) stack, providing energy for fast-charging battery EV stations and back-up power applications. By supporting diverse energy delivery applications and technologies in a shared forecourt, the design enhances overall project feasibility and economics and expedites the transition to a low/zero carbon economy for transportation and stationary back-up power.

According to Jim Volk, patent co-author and GHD’s North America Future Fuels Lead, “The global push to address future energy security amid climate change challenges positions hydrogen as a significant clean energy commodity. GHD’s patent aligns with the promise of green, carbon-free hydrogen produced through renewable energy sources and showcases the potential of fuel cells, particularly PEM fuel cells, in various energy markets.”

Key features of the patent include:

  1. Multi-functional Integration: The system seamlessly combines hydrogen FCV fueling, support for critical back-up power applications and EV fast charging.

  2. Versatility and cost efficiency: The incremental addition of a fuel cell stack to a hydrogen fueling facility for EV charging and critical back-up power improves the overall forecourt feasibility and economics and provides additional revenue for the forecourt investment.

  3. Hydrogen/energy storage: The stored hydrogen supplied to the PEM FC serves as a reliable energy source for EV charging applications and offers energy storage during extended power outages. This feature supports critical-use providers such as public services, first responders, and security and utility services with EVs that require 24/7 reliability around charging capabilities.

hydrogen chart

As the EV and FCV markets continue to grow, infrastructure challenges need to be addressed for both to become competitive with other forms of transportation. Although FCV markets continue to advance, the hydrogen fueling infrastructure remains expensive when compared to existing gasoline fueling forecourts (gas stations) and established EV charging stations.

The more significant issue facing the FCV market is the high cost of fueling infrastructure and the ability to advance forecourts that can accommodate a minimum number of FCVs to make the investment economics work. There are too few FCVs in any market region to adequately support any large-scale hydrogen fueling station economics. The goal has been to develop FCV fueling into a “retail-like” forecourt that provides the same ease and convenience of fueling as that of current gasoline or diesel vehicle fueling.

For on-site hydrogen production via electrolysis, which is also included in the patent, many electrolyzer OEMs offer standard-sized units and are focused on larger-scale hydrogen production capacities. Therefore, it is difficult to match electrolyzer capacity with initial hydrogen demand, especially if fuel cell vehicle procurement and adoption is staged over time. This lower electrolyzer utilization could result in a higher hydrogen unit price ($/kg) at the dispenser and lower total system operating efficiency.

According to Fred Taylor, patent co-author and Hydrogen Lead for the Americas, “Providing this innovative approach to real world applications has resonated with several clients that we have offered the use of the patent to, and we expect to see project rollouts coming to market. Our approach not only caters to and promotes multiple markets but also presents opportunities for product line development and portfolio station services.”