Linde begins producing hydrogen-fuel stations

Technology company The Linde Group has officially opened the world's first small-series production facility for hydrogen-fueling stations in Vienna, the company announced on Tuesday.

Linde's Vienna center was extensively modernized and expanded specifically for this project, according to company officials. Many groundbreaking hydrogen-fueling innovations have originated from this research and development hub, including Linde's energy-efficient, compact ionic compressor, the IC 90.

"The successful commercialization of fuel-cell cars hinges on a sufficiently widespread hydrogen infrastructure," said Dr. Aldo Belloni, a member of Linde's executive board. "The development of small-series production capabilities is a key milestone on this journey. It gives us the flexibility we need to meet rising demand in different markets. Our standard agreement with Iwatani shows that we are on the right path along with our partners."

At the opening ceremony, Linde and Iwatani Corp. announced that both companies had closed a deal for the delivery of 28 hydrogen fueling stations with ionic compressors. The first of these units went on stream Tuesday in Amagasaki near Osaka, Japan. 

"Iwatani would like to contribute to the development of Japan's hydrogen energy infrastructure by building on highly advanced ionic compressor technology from Linde," said Akiji Makino, CEO of Iwatani.

Unlike conventional piston-operated compressors, Linde's IC 90 works with liquid salts. Because these ionic liquids do not have a vapour pressure, they do not evaporate or mix with the hydrogen gas. They also eliminate mechanical wear-and-tear and sealing problems inside the cylinders. 

In addition, the IC 90 increases energy efficiency. Equipped with a sophisticated safety system and remote diagnosis and maintenance capabilities, the IC 90 meets all fuelling standards to ensure safe, silent fuelling and can achieve a pressure of 1,000 bar (14,500 psi) if required, according to company officials.

With this compressor, Linde says it has made a valuable and key contribution to the ongoing enhancement of today's hydrogen-fueling infrastructure.

Highlights of the new small-series production concept include a high degree of standardization across all components, which are installed in a compact 14-foot container for ease of transport and integration in existing fueling stations.

The expansion of production capacity in Vienna to 50 units a year dovetails with the introduction of the first series-produced fuel-cell cars by leading manufacturers such as Hyundai, Toyota, Honda and Daimler between 2014 and 2017. Experts predict that tens of thousands of fuel-cell cars will be traveling Europe's roads by 2018.

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