Hydrogen Fuel Cell Education & Training
This is the most comprehensive guide to education and training in the field of hydrogen and fuel cells.
In this guide you will learn:
- why we should care about Hydrogen and fuel cells?
- in which industries are Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies being adopted?
- what type of jobs will be created and what type of skills will be needed?
- what type of education and training programs are there?
- which are the most highly rated training tools and didactic equipment available?
- alternatively: skip and jump straight to the best hydrogen fuel cell training equipment
Let’s get started!
About the author: Timo Wohlin-Elkovsky
Before founding, building and growing Edquip, I have been running two different companies developing, producing and distributing didactic equipment for teaching renewable energy and hydrogen fuel cells, namely Horizon Educational and Heliocentris Academia.
I have also been part of Hydrogen Europe’s communication task force and spoken on various industry events, i.e. the yearly event of the Ohio fuel cell coalition, the fuel cell conference at TU-Chemnitz etc.
The below guide will show you why hydrogen training is becoming highly relevant for many players, including what are the best practices and tools for executing training in this field.
This guide is most useful for educators, teachers, trainers, lab-technicians, professors, administrators or anyone else who is involved with teaching or training students or employees in hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.
Let’s jump straight in!
Chapter 1: Why Hydrogen and fuel cells?
What are the real benefits of hydrogen?
Let boil it down to the absolute fundamentals by explaining the Why, the What, and the How.
The Why: a vision of a clean world
When Hydrogen is used in a fuel cell to create electricity, the only by-product is clean water and heat, no CO2 emissions, no air pollution. This gives us a strong tool to battle our climate change targets and it also increases life quality in our cities, with less air pollution so we can all breathe a little easier.
The What: the benefit of unlimited supply
Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe, and it can be extracted from a wide range of substances including oil, gas, biofuels, sewage, sludge, and water. This means that hydrogen can be locally produced anywhere, increasing our energy security for generations to come.
The How: a proven energy carrier
Electricity is difficult to store and convey over large distances, but by using electricity to extract hydrogen, both storage and transport becomes simple. The hydrogen molecule becomes the only viable energy carrier for large-scale decarbonization of industry, an important treat when our societies are poised for increasing rather than decreasing our usage and dependency on energy.
Ok, but knowledge of the benefits of Hydrogen has been around since the nineteenth century.
So why the recent hype?
That is easy to explain.
We are currently seeing the convergence of three types of forces pushing this industry forward.
Demand: it is getting truly clear that the current use of fossil fuels in our society has two major damaging impacts: air pollution and climate change. Growing environmental concern among the public translates into political will to find alternatives to current situation, that is demand.
Technological readiness: sustainable and wide scale usage of hydrogen in our society requires cost efficient methods for producing, storing, transporting, and converting hydrogen to electricity. The last decade has seen intense technological advances in all different stages of handling hydrogen, mainly pushed by material sciences and new engineering practices.
Financial viability: increasing demand of viable hydrogen solutions coupled with technological advances decreases financial risk in commercial projects. This momentum is creating attractive financial return on investments, necessary for any large-scale infrastructure projects.
From this chapter we have understood that the benefits of hydrogen are a carbon neutral energy source, in nearly unlimited supply, as a proven energy carrier.
We also learnt that the fundamentals for a flourishing industry are that is needs: demand, technological readiness, and financial viability.
The time for the hydrogen and fuel cell industry has certainly come, its gathering momentum and will over the next decade change the face of how we produce, handle, and consume our energy globally.
So which industries are currently adopting Hydrogen and fuel cells?
Let us jump into the next chapter to find out!
So, which industries are the first to adopt to Hydrogen and Fuel Cells?
The Hydrogen Council, founded in 2017 and led by 30+ CEOs from influential global companies is yearly releasing industry reports which gives very good guidance, lets touch upon the different industry applications one by one.
Fuel Cell Road transport
The case for Hydrogen Fuel Cells in road transport depends on which type of usage patterns can be expected, including parameters such as needed range, necessary daily mileage, and payload (for trucks).
In the case where most customers will use their family car between home and work it seems most experts are agreeing that pure battery electric vehicles (BEV) are and will remain more cost effective.
However, when longer range is needed or heavy-duty patterns are expected, such as in delivery or taxi fleets, then time is money and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) have a clear edge.
Regarding heavy-duty trucks, large passenger vehicles with long-ranges, city buses and long-distance coaches are cases in which FCEV are and will remain stronger than BEV.
First two serious attempt to commercialize FCEV for the general public are the Toyota Mirai and the Honda Clarity. There are also various serious projects across Europe for Fuel Cell Electric Buses and in the field of trucks Nikola Motors and Hyzon Motors are shining the brightest.
Fuel Cell Trains
Fuel cell trains are a strong alternative for those regional trains currently run on diesel in areas where there are no catenary lines. French company Alstom has had some serious progress in this field with heavy testing of their solutions in both Germany and Netherlands, they call the train the Coradia iLint.
Fuel Cell Forklifts
Forklifts used in warehouse material handling operations was one of the first applications where hydrogen fuel cells had a strong economic viability, outperforming in fleet operations efficiency due to maintenance and cleanliness (vs. diesel) and quick recharging (vs. battery electric). Known companies in this field is Nuvera and Plug power, but also large corporates such as Toyota has charged into the game with a Hydrogen Fuel Cell Forklift.
Hydrogen in Aviation
The first company to seriously use fuel cells in aviation was HES Energy Systems out of Singapore who started using fuel cells in autonomous solutions for inspection of infrastructure, such as buildings, bridges, pipelines etc. Various known companies also do serious R&D for passenger applications.
Hydrogen in Maritime
With maritime industry creating a substantial part of global greenhouse gases there is an interest to decrease emissions in this field as well. There are many planned projects out there, perhaps the most convincing proposals by the Swedish-Swiss manufacturing and automation company ABB, launching their proposal for fuel cell systems for ships.
Heat & power for Buildings
Heat and power for buildings represent over a third of global energy demand and a quarter of global carbon emissions, it is a sector where the demand is mostly met by natural gas and which has been proven hard to de-carbonize. By using the existing infrastructure of pipelines and boilers Hydrogen is a strong low-carbon alternative to natural gas. Hydrogen Europe has written up a good article of Hydrogen in buildings.
Heat & power for Industry & Grid
Industrial heating for production purposes is currently mostly run on fossil fuels (coal or natural gas) and electric power (resistor heating or heat pumps). Not all these applications, but specifically those where there is an intermittent demand, hydrogen heating solutions offer the necessary flexibility. Simultaneously our renewable energy production in wind and solar is intermittent, which means that Hydrogen can act as an energy storage and fulfill a role of grid-stabilization.
Finally, over 90% of Hydrogen produced today is consumed as a feedstock in industrial processes, and mostly comes from fossil fuels. To decarbonize this field the hydrogen molecules needs to come from renewable sources. A new application for Hydrogen is for example to produce fossil free steel, currently worked on at Hybrit a joint venture between Swedish industrial behemoths LKAB, SSAB and Vattenfall.
The seven roles for Hydrogen
The Hydrogen Council is referring to seven major roles which Hydrogen will have to play in our not too distant future, this clearly shows how integrated hydrogen will become in our everyday lives.
It is becoming clear that hydrogen will touch upon any major economic sectors and that few (if any) technical fields will be without access to hydrogen applications.
Thus, this development is raising questions about future job creation and the need for technical skills, upskilling and reskilling, in the next chapter we will focus more on these questions, join us!
Alongside its environmental benefits, the hydrogen economy could create opportunities for sustainable economic growth.
“We envision a market for hydrogen and hydrogen technologies with revenues of more than $2.5 trillion per year, and jobs for more than 30 million people globally”
According to the Hydrogen Council most of the value creation in a hydrogen economy would occur in advanced industries. These industries create more employment and domestic value than the value chains of fossil fuels – directly, indirectly, and through implied effects.
Given current estimates of roughly 12 jobs created directly and indirectly per million dollars of revenues in advanced industries, the hydrogen economy would directly and indirectly employ more than 30 million people.
Roughly 15 million additional jobs would be associated with the value added around fuel cells, for instance in the production of vehicles based on the fuel cell powertrain.
Investments in the ramp-up of infrastructure and manufacturing would create additional revenues and jobs, mostly in construction and machinery.
Types of jobs & necessary skills
A recent US study, The hydrogen economy and jobs for the future, makes a case that, although many high-tech industries almost exclusively require highly educated workers with masters or doctoral degrees, these emerging H2 and FC industries require a wide variety of occupations at all skill levels.
“Educational requirements cover the range from apprenticeship/trade school and high school degree, General Education Development, or on-the-job training to advanced university degrees.”
Below a table from this study with examples of emerging jobs, salaries and education and training requirements in the hydrogen and fuel cell industries. HSD / GED / OJT / TS refers to high school degree, General Education Development, or on-the-job training, trade school. CE, ME, EE is short for chemical, mechanical, and electrical engineering degrees on bachelor level.
What we learnt here is that Hydrogen industry is not only of great environmental promise but also of economical growth and empowerment. It will offer careers with a wide variety of necessary skills, required training, and on different occupational levels.
So how can you learn more about Hydrogen?
Which are the promising educational programs out there?
Join us in the next chapter to investigate this further.
So, which are the type of educational programs out there?
Below we have put together the most comprehensive list of links to Hydrogen and Fuel cell education and training programs at various educational levels.
If you have further suggestions of resources, feel free to share them with us.
- Programs where students build their own fuel cell creations: Horizon Hydrogen DIY Race
- SAE International has an automotive competition run under their educational program called A World in Motion for middles school students: The AWIM Fuel Cells Challenge
- EU funded project creating a ready-to-teach toolkit for teachers to use free of charge with the goal of inspiring students in the classroom and beyond: FCHgo
- A fully fledged STEAM program where ambitious high school students build their own 1:12 scale remotely controlled cars, powered by hydrogen fuel cells, and compete in a series of different endurance races to reach the world finals: Horizon Hydrogen Grand Prix (sponsored by Toyota, Hyundai, Moravia Steel and Brano Group)
- Educational and online resources aimed for teaching hydrogen fuel cell technologies from both a science as well as a social science perspective: HySchools
Technical Vocational Education & Training
- Courses & workshops initially developed with EU funding, specifically promoting hands-on skills for handling Hydrogen and fuel cell applications: KnowHy
- Leading automotive technicians’ programs (specialization in alternative fuels), students get to work on Hydrogen training systems: Rio Hondo Community College Alternative Fuels Program
- A specific training program for new professionals adapted to the new energy models based on ICTs and it is oriented to employment for these profiles: Hy2Green
- Hydrogen Safety training resources put together by US DoE (department of energy): H2Tools
- Managed by American Institute of Chemical Engineers: Center for Hydrogen Safety
- Student competition by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers: Chem-E-Car
- A global academic program which focuses on energy optimization, has a specific competition class for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell vehicles: Shell Eco Marathon
- Theoretical student design competitions for university students, covering different topics for each year: Hydrogen Student Design Contest
- Addressing the supply of undergraduate and graduate education (BEng/BSc, Meng/MSc, PhD etc.) in Hydrogen fuel cell technologies: TeachHy
- Development of e-Tools to support Education and Training related to Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Technologies: Net-Tools
- This two week summer program offers courses on selected topics of fuel cell, electrolyzer and battery technologies, (aimed towards MSc and PhD levels): Joint European Summer School
- United States Department of Energy, resources for various levels: US DoE Hydrogen & Fuel Cell education
Alright, that’s a quite good list of resources! Let us know if you think something is missing.
So, how about the training equipment?
What are the best hands-on tools for teaching Hydrogen Fuel Cells?
Let’s explore in the next chapter.
In this chapter we will look at training systems used at technical schools, universities and training centers for teaching Hydrogen and Fuel Cells.
We will cover four different systems coming from three different companies.
This product from Horizon Educational is the ultimate tool for exploring science and engineering concepts through hands-on activities with a working fuel cell car. An impressive array of hardware, software, and digital curricular materials allow for hours of activities for students of everything from high school vocational-technical up through college-level engineering.
The fuel cell systems trainer from De Lorenzo features a refillable metal hydride canister for for low pressure and solid storage of Hydrogen, and a 100W proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell. This training system has been designed for the study of fuel cell systems. It teaches engineering principles, and it allows performing a set of experiments for educational purposes. It is safe and easy to be operated. Complete with connecting cables, experiment manual and software for data acquisition and processing.
The computer-controlled PEM fuel cell unit from Edibon allows to calculate several fundamental parameters of a PEM type fuel cell, such as power density, polarization curves, efficiency, etc., and the variation of some of these parameters in function of the consumption of reagents and the developed power.
We have gone through four different training systems for teaching renewable energy and hydrogen fuel cells, all good for different usages.
To compare these and other products against each other and request a quotation anonymously straight from any producer, just use the Edquip comparison page and RFP system.
Through this blog post we have explored the rising Hydrogen and Fuel Cell industries, with the following insights:
- We have learnt that the different benefits of hydrogen are a carbon neutral energy source, in nearly unlimited supply, as a proven energy carrier.
- We have learnt that hydrogen has various roles to play in the energy and power value chain, as well as having a plethora of different industry applications.
- We have learnt that the jobs created will offer careers with a wide variety of necessary skills, required training, and on different occupational levels.
- We have listed a large amount of different educational resources, programs and engaging student competitions.
- We have looked closer into the four top hydrogen fuel cell training systems which all are listed and available for comparison and requesting quotations straight at the Edquip website.
Thanks for reading through, if you think we have missed any specific information, products or similar please let us know.
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