GHD granted Australian patents for combined hydrogen fuel cell vehicle fuelling, EV fast charging and back-up power system


The patented system seeks to address the high cost of fuelling infrastructure by enabling the development of combined hydrogen and electric vehicle charging, and retail-like forecourts. The system integrates hydrogen dispensers for fuelling Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCVs) and a Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell (PEM FC) stack, providing energy for fast-charging battery electric vehicle (EV) stations and back-up power applications. By supporting diverse energy delivery applications and technologies in a shared forecourt, the design enhances overall project feasibility and economics and expedites the transition to a low/zero carbon economy for transportation and stationary back-up power.

Mia Barnard, GHD’s Decarbonisation Leader, Australia, commented, “There is no one-size-fits-all solution to successfully decarbonise our future, we need multiple technologies. Our patent is a versatile technology, enabling the Australian transport sector to reduce emissions and to do more with less, demonstrating GHD’s commitment to creating lasting community benefit.”

Key features of the patent include:

1.    Multi-functional Integration: The system seamlessly combines hydrogen FCV fuelling, support for critical back-up power applications and EV fast charging.

2.    Versatility and cost efficiency: The incremental addition of a fuel cell stack to a hydrogen fuelling facility for EV charging and critical back-up power improves the overall forecourt feasibility and economics and provides additional revenue for the forecourt investment.

3.    Hydrogen/energy storage: The stored hydrogen supplied to the PEM FC serves as a reliable energy source for EV charging applications and offers energy storage during extended power outages. This feature supports critical-use providers such as public services, first responders, and security and utility services with EVs that require 24/7 reliability around charging capabilities.

According to hydrogen fuelling infrastructure research by CSIRO and GHD Advisory, there are only five operational hydrogen fuelling stations in Australia, with another 20 either planned or under development.

As the EV and FCV markets continue to grow, infrastructure challenges need to be addressed for both to become competitive with other forms of transportation. Although FCV markets continue to advance, the hydrogen fuelling infrastructure remains expensive when compared to existing petrol-fuelled service stations and EV charging stations.

“There are currently too few FCVs in Australia to adequately support any large-scale hydrogen fuelling station economics. The goal of the patent has been to develop FCV fuelling into a ‘retail-like’ forecourt that provides the same ease and convenience of fuelling as that of current petrol or diesel vehicle fuelling, while accommodating a minimum number of FCVs to make the investment economics work,” Barnard said.

For on-site hydrogen production via electrolysis, which is also included in the patent, many electrolyser OEMs offer standard-sized units and are focused on larger-scale hydrogen production capacities. Therefore, it is difficult to match electrolyser capacity with initial hydrogen demand, especially if fuel cell vehicle procurement and adoption is staged over time. This lower electrolyser utilisation could result in a higher hydrogen unit price ($/kg) at the dispenser and lower total system operating efficiency.

According to Fred Taylor, patent co-author and GHD’s Hydrogen Lead for the Americas, “providing this innovative approach to real world applications has resonated with several clients that we have offered the use of the patent to, and we expect to see project rollouts coming to market. Our approach not only caters to and promotes multiple markets but also presents opportunities for product line development and portfolio station services.”