Clean energy and sustainability rule the roost here in Santa Monica. Bikes, Birds, Teslas and hybrids all dominate the city at any given moment, but there’s one type of clean-energy transportation that’s not easily visible– hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

According to cafcp.org (California Fuel Cell Partnership), only 4,926 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) are on the road right now. For these drivers, only 35 hydrogen fueling stations exist in California — locally, there’s one on 1819 Cloverfield Blvd and one currently in development at 1866 Lincoln Boulevard — with no easy way to find a station aside from googling around and eventually landing at cafcp.org, the Department of Energy’s website, or other (potentially unreliable) sources.

AirLiquide, a French multinational company, is hoping to make life easier for the FCV loving crowd; the company created the just-launched H2 Station Finder app to help users locate one of 39 stations throughout the country.

In addition to the app, AirLiquide is also betting big on the niche technology, having designed and installed hundreds of hydrogen fueling stations themselves to help build hydrogen-powered infrastructure.

While automotive manufacturers seem hesitant on the tech (Toyota seems to be the only manufacturer truly dedicated to the alternative fuel, announcing mass production and lower costs for FCVs), time will tell if the bet pays off and this alternative fuel makes a splash with consumers.

In the meantime, the Daily Press talked to AirLiquide CEO Ole Hoefelmann to discuss his app and hopes for an alternative fuel filleded future.

 

The only hydrogen pump on Santa Monica is on 1819 Cloverfield Blvd with the other closest station being 11261 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles correct? Just want to get that fact correct for Santa Monicans that may be driving a FCV. Yes, that is correct. There is another hydrogen station set to launch early next year, and it is located at 1866 Lincoln Boulevard.

 

What made AirLiquide decide to invest in hydrogen fueling stations?

We believe that hydrogen is one of the key solutions to a cleaner transportation future. Hydrogen-powered vehicles have many advantages: zero carbon emissions, zero particulate emissions and zero noise at their point of use. Used in the fuel cell, hydrogen combines with oxygen from the air to produce electricity (to propel the vehicle), with water as the only by­product. As a result, for equal distance traveled, hydrogen cars allow for reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 20% compared with an internal combustion vehicle.

 

Given hydrogen’s great potential to provide clean energy, Air Liquide has — for years — made great strides contributing to the growing use of hydrogen in the transportation sector by supporting the development of the hydrogen energy infrastructure around the world. To date, 100 hydrogen fueling stations have been designed and installed by Air Liquide worldwide.

 

How does AirLiquide forecast hydrogen fuel cells future compared to hybrids and all-electric vehicles?

According to the “Hydrogen, Scaling up” study conducted by the Hydrogen Council, by 2050, the market should be worth US$2.5 trillion and involve over 30 million skilled jobs around the world.

 

Besides the obvious of not having an app to map out hydrogen fuel locations, what other factors led to the creation of this app?

At Air Liquide, we routinely conduct focus group discussions, and ultimately, participants shared that it was challenging to find a hydrogen station near them. Prior to the launch of our app, drivers were only able to locate a hydrogen station through a website offered by the California Fuel Cell Partnership (CaFCP) — however, this had limited functionality as it only provided drivers with the station name and whether it was online or offline. We believed it to be important to provide a consumer-friendly resource to hydrogen drivers that allowed them to get to where they need to go, when they needed to go with complete ease.

 

What benefits (besides locating stations) will this app bring users?

The app introduces a streamlined user experience and several functionalities, including the ability to rate a station, get directions to a station, view how much CO2 drivers are reducing, connect with other hydrogen drivers, provide real-time feedback on a station, and view details of the station, such as amenities offered.

 

What hopes do you have for the app?

With this app, we hope that this will give hydrogen drivers convenience, connectivity, security, and ultimately, a more positive experience on the road.

 

How can/will AirLiquide interest consumers in hydrogen vehicles? It’s very niche compared to other alternative fuels.

Air Liquide is proud to be on the forefront of hydrogen fuel cell technology and the deployment of the necessary supporting infrastructure. In order for hydrogen energy to be fully embraced among consumers as a clean mode of transportation, there needs to be a greater number of hydrogen vehicles. For this to happen, we believe that a strong collaboration must exist with OEMs, such as Hyundai and Toyota, who have both launched Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles(FCEV): the Hyundai IX35 and the Toyota Mirai.

 

Assuming the app will be made available for both Android and iOS, correct? That is correct.