Helping bring hydrogen-powered vehicles to the world

Helping bring hydrogen-powered vehicles to the world


If Marc Secanell Gallart had his way, the streets would be full of hydrogen-fuelled vehicles. The technology already exists, and has for some time, says the director of the UAlberta’s Energy Systems Design Laboratory. Engineers like him are now only a few years away from reducing the cost of fuel cells enough to compete with the conventional combustion engine.

Reducing transportation energy use and emissions
The impact of hydrogen fuel-cell technology could be huge, especially in reducing carbon emissions. Transportation of all kinds accounts for over 30% of the energy consumed in Canada—almost all of that from carbon-spewing fossil fuel. Fuel cells have the potential to replace the internal combustion engine.

Working with car makers to make hydrogen fuel cells a reality
Mercedes Benz and Ford are two of the companies benefiting from Secanell Gallart’s research, especially the computer modelling needed to test each advance. These two vehicle manufacturers have already released hydrogen cars on a small scale but plan to go after a much larger share of the market in next two to three years as the number of hydrogen fill-up stations also increases.

Reducing cost of fuel cell technology via research
The main challenge with fuel cells is cost, but Secanell Gallart is working on a way to bring cost down by reducing the amount of platinum, a scarce and expensive element used as an electricity producing catalyst. One clear benefit of this form of alternative energy is that the same technology used in creating a fuel cell is applied to manufacturing the hydrogen fuel that feeds it.