The automaker works with the German startup Hydrogenious through its Hyundai Cradle division, which deals with new technology and startup partnerships. A contract was signed in May, but the partnership was recently highlighted by the startup accelerator Startup Autobahn.
Hydrogen is typically stored in gaseous form under high pressure. Hydrogenious suggests tying it to a so-called Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carrier (LOHC), which the startup describes as similar to diesel fuel.
This enables hydrogen to be stored in liquid form at ambient temperature and pressure, as indicated in the video embedded here. Hyundai also released a longer video with a little more details on the process.
This process is more efficient because hydrogen can be stored in greater density when bound to LOHC, the startup said. The carrier oil is not as flammable as gaseous hydrogen.
This also allows for the continued use of fossil fuel infrastructure to transport hydrogen, the startup said, and removes a major barrier to mass adoption of fuel cells.
However, this also means continuing to use fleets of oil tankers and tankers – and lots of extra energy.
The Hyundai-related investment is not surprising considering the company sees the use of hydrogen fuel cell technology well beyond automobiles and envisions a “hydrogen society” in which fuel cells power commercial vehicles and buildings.
A report released in June estimated that hydrogen could reach price parity with gasoline by 2025, which could increase interest in fuel cell cars and make other fuel cell uses more financially attractive.
So far, the lack of infrastructure has limited sales of the Hyundai Nexo fuel cell SUV to certain areas in California. It is similar with the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell and Toyota Mirai, the only other passenger cars currently available in the USA with fuel cells.
Nikola plans to build a network of hydrogen stations for its planned fuel cell tractor units along major highways, but the company has not yet built a single station or vehicle.
Making hydrogen from renewable energy sources and then trucking it in oil could lead to a new, confusing turn in how some modes of transport get their energy.