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Hydrogen FCEVs take another step towards viability in Australia

Toyota’s Mirai hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (HFCEV) features around 550km of driving range and emits only water vapour.

Hydrogen-powered cars have just taken a step closer to feasibility in Australia with BOC breaking ground on Queensland’s first renewable hydrogen supply project.

The development will house a 220kW electrolyser and 100kW solar array that will combine to produce up to 2400kg of renewable hydrogen per month through electrolysis at Bulwer Island.

A refuelling station will also be built in Brisbane to top up hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles (HFCEVs), including the Toyota Mirai and Hyundai Nexo, in less than three minutes.

BOC’s development will cost $3.1 million, almost a million of which was pledged from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) with support from the Queensland government.

BOC South Pacific boss John Evans said the Queensland project could be a template for other sites across Australia.

“BOC is proud to be establishing a local supply of renewable hydrogen in Queensland that can be easily scalable and replicated across the country,” he said.

“We will also demonstrate our leading refueller technology that has been widely adopted across Europe and the US.

“The renewable hydrogen we produce will provide added environmental value to our industrial customers and facilitate the introduction of HFCEVs in Queensland, while supporting our own production processes at Bulwer Island.”

Meanwhile, ARENA CEO Darren Miller said the new site will open the gateway for FCEVs in Queensland.

“BOC’s project is a great example of how current industrial gas equipment and infrastructure can be used to take advantage of the growing hydrogen market,” he said.

“Producing hydrogen on site will reduce shipping costs, while being able to help grow the local Brisbane fuel cell vehicle market and also meet demand for local industry.”

While Toyota and Hyundai’s aforementioned models are the largest for HFCEV visibility, other hydrogen-powered cars include the Honda Clarity, Hyundai Tucson FCEV and Mercedes-Benz GLC F-Cell concept.

With driving ranges reaching nearly 550km, HFCEVs emit just water vapour as the hydrogen is used to produced electricity to drive the wheels.

However, the biggest hurdle to overcome with HFCEVs is the lack of refuelling infrastructure, a problem Toyota overcame by building its own mobile station to accompany its Mirai around to country.

Hyundai has also built its own station at its headquarters in Macquarie Park, Sydney to service its Nexo SUV, 20 of which have already been purchased by the ACT government.