Airbus Engineer Creates Demonstration Truck with Horizon Fuel Cell
Horizon Educational recently caught up with Alfonso Delgado Ollero, aSystems Engineer at Airbus UpNext, specialized in hydrogen and fuel cells. While most of his day-job involves developing a new ways to power airplane’s on-board power using hydrogen, as a hobby Alfonso creates hydrogen demonstration systems. One of these was a mini-hydrogen powered truck used to demonstrate the technology to those interested in the potential of hydrogen power to decarbonize transport.
Discover the full story behind Alfonso’s creative use of Horizon’s Fuel Cell below:
Hi Alfonso, could you tell me a little more about how you use our fuel cells in projects?
It’s a good story because some time ago, I was working with the Spanish Hydrogen National Centre, and I had a lot of small stacks there, some stacks were above 30W, laboratory stacks. Some stacks were a bit smaller, for educational purpose etcetera. These very small stacks were perfect to experiment with and create small systems. My motivation was to reproduce what I’m doing at work with large stacks on a smaller scale also having the objective of creating new experimental systems. For me, it’s my passion.
And what’s the biggest difference for you between the larger and smaller stacks?
Usually the bigger stacks are closed cathode ones, and we have to deal with the air compressor and balance of plant being more complex in the design. These smaller ones, they’re open cathode, so you don’t have to worry too much about the cathode and the cooling system. But overall the systems are the same, just smaller scale.
I see this truck you’ve made with a Horizon Fuel Cell – what inspired you to take on this project?
I really wanted to test this system, to see if it can work and if its viable, so I started to make this small truck to demonstrate the performance of the fuel cell, and its capabilities to demonstrate how this truck has a longer operating time than a battery-operated truck. With your fuel cell I was able to operate the truck for more than one hour (continuous operation), and it worked perfectly.
It's a serious demonstrator. When I have to teach someone about hydrogen and how fuel cells work, I let them play with this. They see how it works and then I tell them: there are fuel cells can be manufactured at a much bigger scale. Then people start to think hydrogen can be an alternative, if it can power one of these small-scale trucks, it can power something that is much bigger scale.
Today, there are not enough companies manufacturing small fuel cell stacks. Usually these kind of projects are done with other size of fuel cells, larger ones. There is no company, apart of yours and others that are dedicated exclusively to this purpose that makes such interesting projects with the concept of educating people about fuel cells. Many other fuel cell companies are focused on large production system– but only a few cares about the education of people. In my opinion, that is what matters.
So I would really try to encourage people to buy these kinds of fuel cells.
Have you had an experience with any other products we made?
I would also like to say that the mini-cartridge of metal hydrides (the Hydrostik PRO), is a really good idea. It works perfectly. With the pressure regulator, I have to say this perfectly works to regulate the flow of hydrogen. I tried this with a larger fuel cell, and I managed get the pressure up to 400 millibars – so I really think it’s worth to pay that amount for this product.
Thanks to this tiny device (Hydrostik and regulator), I’m able to power all the small fuel cells I need.
More about Alfonso Delgado Ollero:
Alfonso is a Chemical Engineer at Airbus UpNext specialized in processes and hydrogen. He graduated from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. At the end of his postgraduate studies he was at IMDEA Energy (research center), completing a product that consisted of modeling an advanced high temperature electrolyzer (1D) based on molten carbonates for hydrogen production coupled to a solar thermal plant as part of a European project that aimed to produce synthetic fuels using solar thermal energy as a heating medium.
This project, in a way, allowed him to see the amount of applications hydrogen has, discovering his real vocation. During this time he was also working for Madrid City Council as an Energy Efficiency Engineer, where he learnt the real needs of citizens in sustainable mobility and municipal buildings, which had to be adapted with new solutions in climatization such as aerothermics and photovoltaics to reduce the carbon footprint.
He then worked at the Spanish National Hydrogen Center participating in many important projects, including performing balance of plant design and testing of large turnkey facilities and prototypes, covering the entire hydrogen value chain, such as alkaline electrolysis, storage and final use in fuel cell dedicated to heavy mobility and stationary systems (gensets). He has also collaborated with the Army, resulting in a project dedicated to the development of a tactical vehicle powered by fuel cell.
Alfonso is currently working at Airbus UpNextas a Systems Engineer specialized in hydrogen and fuel cell, in a project called HyPower.