As production grows, the price should fall. One kilogram of hydrogen contains as much energy as about three liters of diesel. For 100 kilometers, a modern 40-ton truck requires seven to eight kilograms of hydrogen.
Availability of hydrogen is also an issue. There is a small network of more than 60 hydrogen filling stations in Germany, and this number is set to rise. The hydrogen tank can be refilled with highly compressed gas in a matter of minutes.
The stacks developed by Volvo-spin out Powercell provide an output of up to 125kW and the company is gradually moving from manual production of fuel cell stacks to ramp-up of a semi-automatic production. It already supplies fuel cells for use as prototypes in trucks and cars.
As well as PEM fuel cells, Bosch is already actively involved in solid-oxide fuel cells (SOFC). Since the middle of last year, Bosch has been working with Ceres Power in the UK to further improve SOFC technology for applications such as distributed power supplies to factories and computing centers. The idea behind the technology is to have small power stations set up throughout cities, as well as in industrial areas. Because these standardized plants are highly flexible, they will be able to cover peak demand better than conventional plants. The aim is for one SOFC module to generate 10 kilowatts of electrical power. Where more electricity is needed, any number of modules with the same output can simply be interconnected.