About Hydrogenics and Hydrogen Technology

What does Hydrogenics do?

Incorporated in 1995, Hydrogenics Corporation is a publicly listed company on the NASDAQ (stock symbol HYGS) and the TSX (stock symbol HYG).

Hydrogenics is a company of engineers, designers, innovators and people who are focused on helping our customers with designing, manufacturing, building and installing industrial and commercial Hydrogen Systems. We are the worldwide leader in hydrogen technology with roots spanning over 70 years.

The technology we manufacture includes:

PEM and Alkaline Electrolyzer Hydrogen generators for:

  • Hydrogen generation for industrial processes,
  • Hydrogen generation for Fueling stations,
  • Hydrogen Energy storage and transportation. Currently, Hydrogenics is leading in  “Power-to-Gas”: The world’s most innovative way to store and transport energy.

Hydrogen fuel cell power generators for:

  • Transportation such as trucks,  urban transit buses, commercial fleets and utility vehicles
  • Stationary applications such for continuous and backup power for hospitals, emergency services, data centers, corporate and  production facilities, telecommunication and small commercial buildings,
  • Free standing electrical power plants and UPS systems (uninterruptible power supply)

Hydrogenics is headquartered in Mississauga, Canada with manufacturing facilities located in Canada, Germany, Belgium and United States, and sales offices in several countries around the world. It has more than 2000 products and hydrogen installations deployed in 100 countries worldwide.  

Why Hydrogenics?

Hydrogenics provides its’ customers with a full range of Hydrogen technology products and services. From electrolyzers for Hydrogen generation, energy storage and fueling to Hydrogen fuel cells for transportation and power generation, we offer a complete Hydrogen solution.

While  other manufacturers specialize in fuel cell stack or integrating stack and balance of plant, Hydrogenics’ end product is fully integrated, ready to use and an all-in-one stack and balance of plant package.

The stack and balance of plant all-in-one package design provides an optimal form factor for easy installation, easy maintenance and easy access for servicing. Hydrogenics’ design achieves the intersection of technology readiness, OEM needs, and operator purchasing criteria that can accelerate zero-emission commercialization.

All of this means reliable performance, easy integration and reduced cost.

Where is Hydrogenics located?

Hydrogenics is headquartered in Mississauga, Canada with manufacturing facilities located in Canada, Germany and Belgium, and sales offices in several countries around the world. It has more than 2000 products and hydrogen installations deployed in 100 countries worldwide.

Our locations.

What is a Fuel Cell?

Hydrogen Fuel cells generate electricity quietly, efficiently, reliably, and with zero harmful emissions, for various applications. They are the cleanest and the most versatile power generating devices on the market.  A Hydrogen fuel cell is an electrochemical device that converts the chemical energy of a fuel directly to usable electrical energy and some heat. The electricity is created electrochemically with hydrogen and an oxidizing agent, generally oxygen.  When hydrogen is used as fuel, for example in a fuel cell electric vehicle, the only by-product is water.

What are different types of fuel cells?

Similar to batteries and all other electrochemical cells, fuel cells have two electrodes, and an electrolyte sandwiched in between.  Fuel cells are distinguished by the type of electrolyte they use. The more common fuel cells on the market are:

  • PEM “Polymer Exchange Membrane” also known as “Polymer Electrolyte Membrane” Fuel Cell (PEMFC)
  • “Solid Oxide” Fuel cell (SOFC),
  • “Molten Carbonate” Fuel cell (MCFC),
  • “Alkaline” Fuel Cell (AFC),
  • “Phosphoric Acid” fuel cell (PAFC).
  • “Direct Methanol” fuel cell (DMFC) is the only type of fuel cell that is distinguished by its fuel (Methanol) and not its electrolyte.

What kind of fuel cell does Hydrogenics design and manufacture?

Hydrogenics designs and manufactures Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells (PEMFC). This type of fuel cell uses a solid polymer membrane electrolyte that electrochemically reacts with hydrogen and oxygen to produce power. PEMFCs operate at relatively lower temperatures and pressures and deliver higher power densities compared to other fuel cells. They are also smaller and have lower weight and volume. PEMFCs contain no corrosive fluids and are the most versatile fuel cells suitable for a variety of mobility and stationary power applications. Due to their size flexibility, favorable power-to-weight ratio, and fast startup, they are the primary choice for vehicles such as cars, trucks, and buses.

Why Fuel Cells?

  • Hydrogen Fuel Cells offer a host of benefits:
    • Zero harmful emissions: Although fuel cells generate electricity and heat, they do not emit airborne emissions and greenhouse gases like gasoline engines. The only by-product other than heat is water. This is notable in a PEMFC, where the operating temperature is lower than the temperatures in which harmful Nitrogen oxides (NOx) can be formed. It’s the cleanest source of energy available.
    • Efficiency: In a traditional combustion engine, fuel and air are mixed to produce heat, which is then converted to mechanical energy to run the engine. Typically, some of the heat energy is wasted. With Hydrogen Fuel Cells, chemical energy is converted directly to electrical energy, making it fundamentally more efficient.
    • Modular/Scalable: Each fuel cell produces a small voltage of about 0.7V at medium loads. Many single cells may be connected in series, called a fuel cell stack, to produce a much larger voltage. Fuel cell stacks can come in any size and number of cells depending on the power and size requirements of the application. Fuel cell stacks can also be linked together to provide even larger megawatt power output.
    • Quick refueling/no recharging: Unlike batteries that run down and must be thrown away or recharged, a fuel cell operates for as long as fuel and oxidant are supplied to it. Fuel cells are quickly refueled once their fuel supply runs low. This can easily be done by refilling or replacing the Hydrogen tank attached to the fuel cell.
    • Reliable: Fuel cells are independent of the grid and will run as long as fuel is fed through. This makes fuel cells an excellent backup power source for data centers, hospitals, banks, telecommunication companies and other industries where interruptions due to power outages are unacceptable.
    • Easy to maintain: With no moving parts in a fuel cell, there is none of the wear and tear found in combustion engines.
    • Quiet operation: Fuel cells offered reduced noise emission. With no combustion or no moving parts, the level of noise is about 60 decibels, making fuel cells a  favorable choice for public transportation and residential buildings.
    • Versatile and renewable: In addition to hydrogen, methanol and ethanol, methane, light methane-based hydrocarbon, natural gas, and propane are other fuels that may be used in a fuel cell.
    • Wide range of applications for Hydrogen Fuel Cells:  
      • Transportation like automobiles, buses, airplanes, submarines, boats, motorcycles and bicycles, and forklifts.
      • Large and small backup power for data centers, hospitals, telecommunication towers, banks, businesses, industrial buildings.
      • Stationary power like Combined Heat and Power for houses or businesses (CHP),
      • Uninterrupted Power Systems (UPS)
      • Portable power generation for military, industries, or entertainment  such as cameras and surveillance equipment, laptops, printers, smartphones;

How does a PEM fuel cell work?

Fuel cells are electrochemical cells. They convert the chemical energy of the fuel directly to electrical energy (electricity). They have two electrodes with an electrolyte, in case of a PEMFC a thin solid polymer electrolyte sandwiched in between. Below is a simple illustration of how one Hydrogenics’ PEM fuel cell works. At the negative post, the anode, Hydrogen molecule gives off its electron leaving positively charged protons behind.  Electrons (through the circuit) and Protons (through the solid polymer electrolyte) travel towards the positive post, the cathode, where they are both taken by Oxygen molecules to form water.  It’s the flow of electrons in the circuit, or electricity that is the main product of a fuel cell. Water that is formed at the cathode is the only by-product. Each cell is sandwiched between two graphite bipolar plates. Bipolar plates have channels and grooves in them that are responsible for transporting Hydrogen fuel to the anode and Oxygen to the cathode, transporting the product water away from the electrodes and to the exhaust, and flowing coolant within the plates for temperature control. The plates also serve as electrical conductors and give mechanical strength to the structure of the cell.

One cell produces a voltage of 0.6 to 0.7 V. Many cells may be connected in series to produce a much larger voltage. In order to connect single cells in series to make a fuel cell stack of a desired power and size, anode bipolar plate of one cell is connected to the cathode bipolar plate of the adjacent cell.

What are some of fuel cell applications?

Large and small Backup power for data centers, hospitals, telecommunication towers, banks, businesses, industrial buildings; Stationary power like Combined Heat and Power for houses or businesses (CHP), and Uninterrupted Power Systems (UPS)); Portable power generation for military, industries, or entertainment  such as cameras and surveillance equipment, laptops, printers, smart phones; transportation like automobiles, buses, airplanes, submarines, boats, motorcycles and bicycles, and forklifts. 

Hydrogen Fuel cells vs. Hydrogen Internal Combustion Engines (HICE)?

Hydrogen may be used as fuel in a combustion engine. However, since combustion properties of Hydrogen are different from those of gasoline, ICEs require detailed modifications to be able to combust hydrogen. Furthermore, even though just like fuel cells there are no carbon –based emissions in a HICE, combustion of hydrogen with air produces harmful nitrous oxides (NOx). Therefore, unlike fuel cells, these engines are not zero-emission engines. HICEs, still limited by the thermodynamic limitations of a combustion engine have lower efficiency compared to a fuel cell and can travel less distance for a given amount of hydrogen.

What is an electrolyser?

An electrochemical device that uses electricity to split molecules into their constituent atoms.  Thus electrolysers are widely used to split water into Hydrogen and Oxygen. Electrolysis is currently the most promising method of Hydrogen production with very high purities (99.999%), due to high efficiency and fast dynamic response compared to some other methods. Hydrogen made by electrolysis is extremely clean and can be put back into the grid or used in a fuel cell.

What are the different types of electrolysers?

Like fuel cells, electrolysers have two electrodes and an ion-conducting electrolyte sandwiched in between. They are distinguished by the type of electrolyte they utilize. There are a few different types of electrolysers that are currently used or under development. The two most common ones that are commercially used for Hydrogen production are:

  1. Alkaline Electrolysers: These electrolysers use a liquid caustic electrolyte, usually ~%30 KOH. They use cheaper metals such as Nickel as catalyst and have a robust and reliable structure. Alkaline electrolysers produce Hydrogen with purity of 99.8%, operate at relatively low temperatures, and have a relatively high capacity. They typically operate at pressures of up to 30bars and low current densities. 
  2. Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM) electrolyser: A PEM (Proton Exchange Membrane, or polymer Electrolyte Membrane) electrolyser utilizes a solid Polymer electrolyte membrane as the electrolyte. They are gaining increasing popularity for the following reasons:
    • Since there are no corrosive electrolytes in PEM electrolysers they are not susceptible to leakage. Therefore maintenance costs are reduced. 
    • They require no auxiliary equipments to remove traces of KOH from product Hydrogen to increase its purity.
    • They are able to operate at higher pressures and high current densities.  This is especially useful for systems working with dynamic energy sources such as wind and solar to capture spikes in the input energy. Therefore they are the better alternative for energy storage systems connected to renewable energy sources. 
    • Their low ohmic losses and high efficiency results in very high Hydrogen purity, thus making them suitable for applications that incorporate Hydrogen fuel cells such as, backup power for wireless telecommunication sites, residential areas, hospitals, and Hydrogen fueling for transportation. 

How does a PEM electrolyser work?

A PEM electrolyser uses an ionically conductive solid polymer. When potential difference (voltage) applied between the two electrodes, negatively charged Oxygen in the water molecules give up their electron at the anode to make protons, electrons, and O2 at the anode. The H+ ions travel through the proton conducting  polymer towards the cathode where they take an electron and become neutral H atoms which combine to make H2 at the cathode. The electrolyte and two electrodes are sandwiched between two bipolar plates. The role of bipolar plate is to transport water to the plates, transport product gases away from the cell, conduct electricity, and circulate a coolant fluid to cool down the process.

Same as fuel cells, many electrolyser single cells may be connected in series to make the core component of an electrolyser system, the cell stack, where both Hydrogen and Oxygen are produced. 

How does a Hydrogenics Alkaline electrolysers work?

In alkaline electrolysis, the reaction occurs in a solution composed of water and liquid electrolyte (30% KOH) between two electrodes. When a sufficient voltage is applied between the two electrodes, at the cathode water molecules take electrons to make OH ions and H2 molecule. OH ions travel through the 30% KOH electrolyte towards the anode where they combine and give up their extra electrons to make water, electrons, and O2. Recombination of Hydrogen and Oxygen at this stage is avoided by means of the highly efficient and patented IMET® ion-exchange membrane.  Our IMET® membrane is made of highly resistant inorganic materials and does not contain any asbestos. The electrolyte remains in the system due to a clever and pump-free closed-loop recirculation system. Hydrogenics’ HySTAT electrolysers are installed at hundreds of industrial plants, power stations, energy storage facilities and fueling stations around the world.  They are safe and reliable systems used by all major industrial gas suppliers in heavy-duty applications.

How can I purchase a Hydrogenics fuel cell power module?

For fuel cell sales inquiries please contact us.

How can I purchase a Hydrogenics PEM or alkaline electrolyser?

For electrolyser sales inquiries please contact us.