4 mins

Hydrogen on track

Hydrogen on track
#hydrogen #mobility #valuechain #marketpotential

Convinced since 2015 that hydrogen will play a major role in the mobility of tomorrow, OPmobility is positioned in this market, thanks to its historical expertise and its position as the world leader in fuel tanks. Today, an ecosystem has been built up covering the entire hydrogen value chain, with a comprehensive, industrialized, and competitive offer, enabling it to address the entire market, from heavy-duty and commercial mobility to passenger cars and trains. “We are a fast-growing business which accomplishes in a decade a big development,” says Xavier Ponchon, H2-Power Managing Director Europe.

OPmobility and hydrogen: pioneering sustainable mobility

Innovation in fuel cell electric vehicles

“Fuel cell electric vehicles have their own on-board “power plant” to make their electricity, unlike battery electric vehicles (BEV),” explains Xavier Ponchon. Due to a chemical reaction between oxygen and hydrogen in the fuel cell, electrical energy is generated which, depending on system design, can directly supply an electric motor or charge battery modules in the vehicle.


On the road to decarbonizing mobility, carmakers and automotive suppliers are already taking this decisive turning point towards hydrogen technologies as a clean and efficient way of powering vehicles. Heavy-duty mobility, such as trains, buses, and trucks, as well as light commercial vehicles, are leading the way.

Benefits of hydrogen technology for heavy-duty mobility

Downtime reduction and infrastructure deployment

While extending the distance vehicles can travel on a single charge, the technology speeds up refueling – a considerable advantage for fleet operators looking to limit downtime. At the same time, hydrogen infrastructures are gradually being developed around the world, enabling hydrogen-powered vehicles to be used.


“Imagine a logistics company that recharges all its vehicles in minutes instead of an hour or two for each truck,” says Xavier Ponchon. “It would save a lot of time. This is one of the main reasons why hydrogen is better suited to heavy and commercial mobility, even though we have hydrogen-related activities in all areas of mobility.”

AF - H2 - Multi architecture 01
Illustration of hydrogen combustion engines in trains, buses, trucks and cars

Challenges and innovations for hydrogen-powered mobility

Storage optimization and tank safety

A challenge of hydrogen mobility is the space needed to store hydrogen in vehicles, even when compressed. OPmobility’s range of vessels goes from 20L to 400L for different vehicles. Alongside storage, the fuel cell system takes up a lot of space in cars. Today, any vehicle smaller than a large SUV or a sedan is better suited to a battery. The integration of our products depends on the architecture of each vehicle. “The challenge is to make the technology competitive. The key is to design an efficient mass production process alongside the product,” concludes Xavier Ponchon.


In terms of safety, the vessels are tested and certified to withstand 15,000 filling cycles (one fill a day for over 40 years), and to withstand 2.25 times the operating pressure (i.e. 1,575 bar for a 700-bar tank).

A first-class partnership

OPmobility has been working with Alstom since 2021 to bring hydrogen rail to Europe. Its role: to design storage systems that meet the rail industry’s very demanding safety and durability standards.


The first trains equipped with OPmobility systems are already in trials and have led to new orders for the Group. Xavier Ponchon, H2-Power Managing Director Europe, comments, “Hydrogen is a key solution for replacing today’s diesel trains without major investment in infrastructure. As with other forms of mobility, the reduction of CO2 emissions is required by the end customer. Today’s non-electrified railroads account for around 28% of traffic in China, 40% in Europe and 95% in the USA. The market potential is huge!”


Frédérique Kalb, Managing Director Rolling Stock & Components Saint-Ouen at Alstom, is particularly involved in this collaboration. “At Alstom we are committed to taking up the challenge of sustainable mobility for everyone. We develop innovative technologies and customer solutions for a decarbonized railway, even when networks are not electrified, and we are forerunners of the technology and key building blocks of development. This gives us unrivaled expertise and a unique position to identify the right solution for our customers’ needs. This would not be possible without a strong partnership with key suppliers such as OPmobility with whom we partner to design onboard hydrogen storage solutions for railways.”

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