Hydrogen Applications

Industry has safely used hydrogen for decades in applications including:

  • Petroleum refining
  • Glass purification
  • Semiconductor manufacturing
  • Aerospace applications
  • Fertilizer production
  • Welding, annealing and heat-treating metals
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • As a coolant in power plant generators
  • For hydrogenation of unsaturated fatty acids in vegetable oil
Single Fuel Cell
(Photo courtesy of DOE)

Newer applications include industrial trucks (e.g., forklifts) and cars and trucks powered by hydrogen fuel cells. A fuel cell is a device that combines hydrogen with oxygen from the air in an electrochemical reaction to create electricity, which can power an electric motor that propels a vehicle. Fuel cells are twice as energy-efficient as combustion engines, and the hydrogen used to power them can come from a variety of sources, including renewable energy sources. A hydrogen fuel cell emits only heat and water, without producing any air pollutants or greenhouse gases. Indoor and outdoor hydrogen fueling stations are being built to provide hydrogen fuel for fuel cell powered vehicles.

PowerEdge C Series Forklift
PowerEdge C Series Forklift (Photo courtesy of Nuvera Fuel Cells)

Private companies and government agencies (e.g., Department of Defense) with large warehouses/distribution centers are adopting fuel cells to power their material-handling equipment. Some of the companies that are deploying fuel cell industrial trucks are Walmart, Whole Foods, Bridgestone Firestone, Coca Cola, Central Grocers, Nestle Water, Fed Ex, Amazon, Wegmans, and Genco. In most applications, the hydrogen is stored outside and the dispensers for refueling the industrial trucks are located indoors.

Looking for a Hydrogen Fueling Station? Check out h2stations.org. The site covers all world regions. Here is a sample map last updated December 2020:

Hydrogen Fueling Station Locations

Stationary hydrogen fuel cells are used for:

  • Uninterruptible power supply for hospitals and data centers
  • Backup power for regional emergency shelters
  • Power for telecommunications in remote locations
Data Center Application Stationary Fuel Cell Telecommunications Tower
Data Center Application
(Photo courtesy of Chevron Texaco)
Stationary Fuel Cell
(Photo courtesy of Plug Power)
Telecommunications Tower
(Photo courtesy of ReliOn)

Emerging applications include:

  • Trains
  • Airplanes
  • Boats
  • Heavy-duty vehicles
  • Blending with natural gas for consumer use and power generation