450kW Hydrogen Fuel Cell-Based Emergency Power System

February 14, 2019 by Scott McMahan

Hyundai Mobis announced that it implemented the ‘emergency hydrogen power generation system' in its hydrogen fuel cell plant in Chungju, Korea, and began to operate it on a pilot basis. Hyundai Mobis wanted to leverage hydrogen fuel cell modules, which are used in hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles, for a project of powering buildings.

The company points out that it is the first company to produce the core parts of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles in a dedicated factory. Hyundai Mobis successfully applied its own technology to the power generation systems in its hydrogen fuel cell plant.

During power failures at the plant, the company plans to use this emergency hydrogen power generator. It will also provide auxiliary power during seasonal peak times. The generated hydrogen will act as part of the electricity used to operate the hydrogen vehicle parts plant.

Specifically, the company utilized the hydrogen fuel cell modules currently used in the mass-produced, Nexo hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle. A power generating system with a maximum capacity of 450kW was formed with the connecting of 5 hydrogen fuel cells for vehicles. This capacity is about 7% of the total power consumption of the Chungju Plant, and it can be used in emergencies or during peak usage time.

Fuel Cells Used Without Any Modification

For the project, Hyundai Mobis applied the fuel cell modules of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles as is, and then separately developed the parallel controller, thermal management system and uninterruptible power supply system (UPS) for the power generator.

Benefits of the hydrogen fuel cell-based power generation include high energy efficiency, safety, quantity control, no pollution, and low noise. According to the company, the biggest advantage is the ability to control the number of fuel cell modules needed to generate electricity. As many fuel cell modules as necessary can be connected to meet the required emergency power and auxiliary power needs, which vary depending on the size of the building. The company designed the individual components of the hydrogen fuel cell to be combustion-proof, and the system features automatic hydrogen detection and has external exhaust.

Hydrogen Production Infrastructure not Adequate

The infrastructure for hydrogen production and utilization is not currently adequate. Therefore, the installation cost is high. However, Hyundai Mobis expects to offer competitive pricing if the use of hydrogen energy is invigorated. Starting with the pilot operation in the Chungju Plant, the company is planning to install more emergency hydrogen power generation systems in other production bases in Japan and abroad.

"The Chungju Plant emergency hydrogen power generation system is the first step in using the core hydrogen vehicle technology to produce hydrogen," said Vice President Byung-ki Ahn, head of the electrification business division of Hyundai Mobis. "The hydrogen fuel cell modules for vehicles can be used not only in power generation but also in various other business areas like hydrogen-powered trains or ships, drones and construction equipment."