British Columbia has long been a leader in developing policies to address climate change and is a big booster of automotive fuel cells, which are among the most viable technologies for long-term emissions reductions. But we really dominate the competition! Did you know that while there are centres of fuel research in other parts of Canada, Vancouver is the national hub for groundbreaking research and development? Or that B.C. is recognized internationally as a global leader in hydrogen and fuel cell research, development and early stage commercialization?
British Columbia’s expertise was on display at the 7th Annual International Fuel Cell Expo, the world’s largest hydrogen and fuel cell industry event in Tokyo, Japan this month. B.C.’s trade and investment representatives were there to introduce companies like Ballard, Greenlight Innovation, and Powertech Labs to the estimated 135,000 renewable energy professionals who were in attendance. They were joined by the Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association and the National Research Council (NRC), huge players in supporting the research and commercialization of fuel cell technologies. In fact, NRC’s early strategic investments have been essential for the growth in the B.C. fuel cell cluster, which is poised to seize a significant share of a global market projected to be worth over US$8.5 billion by 2016.
Fuel Cell Leaders
Fuel cells are expected to be a key technology in ensuring zero emissions vehicles (ZEVs) can be market-ready. B.C. is also home to the Automotive Fuel Cell Cooperation, established in 2008 in Burnaby, which is a joint-venture private company owned by Daimler AG, the Ford Motor Company and Ballard Power Systems Inc. to develop fuel cell stacks for automotive application. Daimler and Ford are the only automobile companies who have joined forces to develop fuel cell technology and have more than 150 fuel cell vehicles on the road today. Check out the 125-day journey of three Mercedes Benz fuel cell cars that are travelling the globe and watch for them in Vancouver!
Heavy duty diesel vehicles are the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions on our roads. Ballard Power Systems, ISE Corp., and the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority (Translink) are working to change that with the commercialization of fuel cell hybrid buses. Ballard and ISE will design, assemble, and test key sub-components for the fuel cell module and hybrid electric drive train to completely eliminate all emissions from bus tailpipes.
Getting the Infrastructure in Place
HTEC Hydrogen Technology & Energy Corp., of Delta has been working on improving hydrogen production and delivery systems to make it more practical for broader public use of ZEVs. They have been testing hydrogen energy infrastructure solutions, including hydrogen purification technology, a hydrogen liquefaction facility in North Vancouver, and a combined hydrogen and compressed natural gas transit bus fuelling station in Port Coquitlam. The liquefaction and fuelling facilities will be a major addition to British Columbia’s Hydrogen Highway initiative.
Have you ever driven a fuel-cell powered vehicle? Tell us about it! Better yet, check out the British Columbia’s expertise and tell us what you think the next big technology invention will be in this exciting field!