car hydrogen

What is hydrogen?

Hydrogen is the first element in the periodic table and also the simplest. Ordinary hydrogen consists of a positively charged nucleus (pro-ton) and a negatively charged electron. Hydrogen has the lowest atomic weight of any element.
Under normal or standard conditions, hydrogen is a colourless and odourless gas. Hydrogen is non-toxic and is not causing environmental damage – in that respect it is environmentally neutral.

Where does hydrogen occur?

Hydrogen is the first and most important element in the universe. Its estimated mass fraction is in the order of 75 %. In the early universe, some 13.8 billion years ago, hydrogen nuclei were formed by fusion at extremely high temperatures (nucleosynthesis). In the hot interior of stars, the subsequent stellar fusion of hydrogen to helium, also known as “hydrogen burning”, is the most important and richest source of energy in their life cycle. The age of a star can be determined from the distribution of the elements and the stellar mass.

fuelling petrol on car

Can hydrogen be used as a fuel for vehicles?

Hydrogen can be used to power a number of different types of transportation. It can be stored and transported at high energy density in liquid or gaseous form, and it can be used as a fuel for power or in transport, and in industry as feedstock.

Just like battery-electric vehicles, hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), including passenger cars and buses, are powered by electricity and so produce no carbon dioxide (CO2) or other harmful emissions from their tailpipe – only water vapour. In these vehicles, energy is stored in the form compressed hydrogen fuel, rather than in a battery.

The hydrogen fuel-cells convert compressed hydrogen from their fuel tanks into electricity that powers the electric motor in the vehicle, providing a similar range to vehicles powered by internal combustion engines using gasoline or diesel.
Hydrogen-powered cars also have the advantage of being able to cover long distances, and only take a few minutes to refuel at a retail site.

Hydrogen: a fuel of the future Listen to our podcast

How hydrogen is produced ?

 Hydrogen is abundant but is rarely found in its pure form. It has to be produced through chemical reactions. Most of hydrogen today is produced through fossil-fuel reforming, a process that produces a reaction between natural gas and steam. Hydrogen can also be produced from renewable sources, using biogas, a gaseous form of methane obtained from biomass, or through electrolysis using electricity generated by renewable sources.

Here’s how each of these processes work

Press the marked areas to learn more about each
energy produced process
Detail 1

Primary energy sources

The following primary energy sources can be used: Biogas or Biomethane; Natural Gas; Solar or Wind.

Detail 2

Thermochemical conversion

Biogas or Biomethane, or Natural Gas go through a thermochemical conversion called steam methane reform (SMR) which produces a reaction with steam and forms a synthetic gas that consists predominantly of hydrogen.

Detail 3

Electrolysis

Natural gas, solar or wind as a primary energy source can be used to produce electricity, which then is used in a process called electrolysis to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.

Detail 4

Final energy carrier

Either of these processes produce hydrogen.

Press the marked areas to learn more about each

Shell hydrogen projects

Shell sees opportunities across the hydrogen supply chain, including the production, storage, transport via pipelines, shipping of hydrogen and end-customer solutions. Our intent is to be a leading player in the global hydrogen market. Click on each sector to find out more.

Production

Holland Hydrogen electrolyser project – aerial night view

Large-scale production of hydrogen from renewables is Shell’s ultimate goal. To achieve scale in the timeframe required for hydrogen to make a difference as a net-zero lever, all forms of decarbonised hydrogen are needed. As demand for hydrogen and electricity increases simultaneously, there is unlikely to be enough renewable electricity to sustain both deep electrification and mass hydrogen adoption in the short to medium term. Hydrogen production paired with CCS will be vital to help build the hydrogen ecosystem, supply chain and infrastructure while still reducing emissions significantly. 

Shell is part of several major projects that aim to showcase the viability of hydrogen for industry.

See Shell’s current projects below

Download the map with Shell electrolyser projects

Germany -  REFYHNE: Rhineland electrolyser

Germany - REFYHNE: Rhineland electrolyser

At the Shell Rhineland Refinery in Wesseling, Germany, we built one of the largest hydrogen proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolysers in the world. It has a peak capacity of 10 megawatts and produces 1,300 tonnes of hydrogen per year. The electrolyser also helps balance the local power grid, by enabling the refinery to make and then store hydrogen when there is surplus power from variable renewable sources, such as wind. The plant, built by ITM Power, is operated by Shell, and began operating in mid-2021. Project REFYHNE is partly funded by the European Commission.

Building on the lessons learned from Refhyne I, the Refhyne 2 consortium has been awarded a grant by the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA) for the development of a 100 MW electrolyser, also to be sited at Shell’s Energy and Chemicals Park, Rheinland in Germany. Project is subject to a final investment decision, expected later in 2022.

China - M4 Electrolyser

The 20 megawatts (MW) power-to-hydrogen electrolyser and hydrogen refuelling stations in Zhangjiakou started operations in January 2022. The project is part of a joint venture between Shell China and Zhangjiakou City Transport Construction Investment Holding Group Co. Ltd, formed in November 2020. Construction took only 13 months. Utilising solar and onshore wind power, the facility can generate eight tonnes of renewable-based hydrogen per day. The project will provide about 50% of the total decarbonised hydrogen supply to power more than 600 hydrogen fuel cell buses in Zhangjiakou during the Winter Olympic Games. The companies have plans to scale up to 60 MW in the next two years in phase 2.

Holland Hydrogen electrolyser project

Netherlands - Holland Hydrogen I

Shell has taken the final investment decision to build Holland Hydrogen I, which will be Europe’s largest renewable hydrogen plant once operational in 2025. The 200MW electrolyser will be constructed on the Tweede Maasvlakte in the port of Rotterdam and will produce up to 60,000 kilograms of renewable hydrogen per day.

The renewable power for the electrolyser will come from the offshore wind farm Hollandse Kust (noord), which is partly owned by Shell.

Decarbonised hydrogen infographic with the solar and wind used as a primary energy source to produce hydrogen.

Netherlands - NortH2

Shell, together with its consortium partners, Gasunie and Groningen Seaports, announced in February 2020 one of the largest renewables-based hydrogen projects in Europe, the NortH2 project. Two additional partners, RWE and Equinor joined the consortium in early 2021.

NortH2 is located in the north of the Netherlands, the project envisages the construction of large-scale wind farms in the North Sea, which can gradually grow to 10 gigawatts capacity by 2040. The first turbines could be ready in 2027 and will be used for renewable hydrogen production that will mainly be used to supply the industrial sector.

The plan provides for a large electrolyser in the Eemshaven, a seaport in the north of the Netherlands, that will convert wind energy into decarbonised hydrogen. The project has started with a feasibility study that Shell expects to conclude in 2022.

Hydrogen tanks at the Shell station

Netherlands - EMMEN: Hydrogen Innovation Hub at GZI Next

At a former gas processing installation in Emmen, a consortium of partners including Shell are building a renewable energy hub “GZI Next”. Shell is developing a renewable hydrogen innovation and production hub, testing new technology for large-scale electrolysis as well as synergies with the adjacent solar PV and biogas projects. Produced hydrogen will be consumed by mobility customers or transported via a new hydrogen pipeline to nearby industry. The on-site hydrogen refueling station will be ready by summer 2022, with 10 hydrogen buses for public transport as first customer.

UK - Acorn CCS

In the North East of Scotland, Shell is part of a hydrogen and CCS project called Acorn, led by Pale Blue Dot Energy. Using existing oil and gas infrastructure at the St Fergus gas processing terminal, the project will reform North Sea natural gas into decarbonised hydrogen. The hydrogen produced would then be used in transport, in the gas grid to decarbonise heating in homes, and in heavy industry.

In February 2020, Acorn was awarded funding from the second phase of the UK Government’s Hydrogen Supply Competition. The first phase of the project will be to develop the technology to convert some of the natural gas at St Fergus gas terminal into hydrogen. The project is aiming to complete its first injection of hydrogen into the gas grid by 2025.

Heavy duty

Heavy duty transport

Hydrogen is an increasingly appealing option for the transport sector. Its high energy density makes it particularly suitable for trucks, trains, and ships, which carry heavy goods over long distances.

Europe - H2Accelerate (H2A)

In December 2020, Shell became a founding member of the H2A consortium alongside Daimler Truck AG, IVECO, OMV and Volvo Group. The group is committed to fostering the conditions for the mass market rollout of hydrogen trucks in Europe.

The decade-long scale-up is expected to begin with groups of customers willing to make an early commitment to hydrogen-based trucking. H2A members are, in their individual capacity, supporting the deployment of 100’s of trucks (in the case of OEMs) and more than 20 high-capacity refuelling stations (in the case of infrastructure providers) to be in use by 2025. These clusters can then be interconnected to build a pan-European network with 1,000s of trucks and Europe-wide coverage of refuelling stations.

In 2021, Shell signed an agreement with Daimler Truck AG to jointly drive the adoption of hydrogen trucks in Europe. The aim is to build 150 Shell decarbonised hydrogen refuelling stations and supply around 5,000 Mercedes-Benz heavy-duty hydrogen trucks by 2030. This builds on both companies involvement in H2A a mobility consortium that intends to roll out hydrogen truck infrastructure across Europe by 2030.

Men and women handshaking

Germany - Paul NFz trucks

 In 2021 Shell, MaierKorduletsch and Paul Nutzfahrzeuge introduced a first medium-duty fuel cell truck to activate the market for hydrogen as a fuel in the medium- to heavy-duty road transport sector, another building block in the development of the hydrogen economy and transport sector decarbonisation. The basis of the new zero-emission vehicle is a glider – a chassis and driver cabin from Mercedes-Benz Atego, equipped by Paul Nutzfahrzeuge with a central drive from ZF and a fuel cell from Toyota. The 15-tonne truck (24 tonnes including trailer) with a hydrogen storage capacity of 30 kg can travel a range of up to 500 km and be fully refuelled within only 10 to 15 minutes.

Germany - Mobility leasing platform

 In 2021 Shell announced a new integrated mobility platform that is being developed, which includes a vehicle offer on a pay-per-km basis. This mobility platform aims to enable Shell to accelerate the decarbonisation of the hydrogen for heavy-duty transport market thought a pay-per-use leasing platform made available to business-to-business (B2B) customers. Subject to funding and final investment decision, Shell plans to offer its customers access to up to 2,500 fuel cell trucks with up to 50 hydrogen filling stations by 2025, to activate the hydrogen market in Europe and make zero emission heavy goods transport a reality. 

United States – California fuel-cell trucks

 In California, Shell has built three new high-capacity refuelling stations for heavy-duty hydrogen fuel-cell trucks, in collaboration with Toyota and Kenworth Truck Company. These stations form the first hydrogen truck refuelling network in California. In doing so they help reduce emissions along heavily used routes that connect the Port of Los Angeles with major warehouse complexes inland. 

Netherlands – Groningen H2 fuelling station for buses

 The Groningen hydrogen station is Shell's first operational hydrogen filling point for buses globally. Shell has built this subsidy-free hydrogen filling point on behalf of the Public Transport Agency Groningen Drenthe (OV-Bureau Groningen Drenthe). Shell is the supplier of the renewable certified hydrogen filling point, which is available for 20 Qbuzz hydrogen buses. Hydrogen buses offer a solution for longer distances in regional transport. Refueling takes about 10 minutes and the buses can cover roughly 400 kilometers on a full tank (25 kilos) of hydrogen, emitting only water vapour as exhaust.

China - M4 Electrolyser for buses

 Shell realized its first commercial hydrogen development in China. In November 2020, Shell and Zhangjiakou City Transport Construction Investment Holding Group Co. Ltd. Announced the formation of a joint venture, Zhangjiakou City Transport and Shell New Energy Co. Ltd, in Zhangjiakou, Hebei Province, China. Through the joint venture, the two parties have invested in building a 20 megawatts (MW) renewable power-to-hydrogen electrolyser project and hydrogen refueling stations in Zhangjiakou City to help decarbonise the mobility sector in the region. Construction took only 13 months, and was completed end of 2021, with production beginning soon after in January 2022.

Utilising solar and onshore wind power, the facility can generate eight tonnes of renewable-based hydrogen per day. The project will provide about 50% of the total decarbonised hydrogen supply to power more than 600 hydrogen fuel cell buses in Zhangjiakou during the Winter Olympic Games.

Japan – HySTRA liquid H2 shipping

Shell Hydrogen is also working closely with partners on the delivery of the world’s first liquefied hydrogen carrier by providing technical capability. The ship, Suiso Frontier, was launched in Q4 2019 and entered sea trials in early 2021. It was a successful demonstration for potential large-scale distribution of hydrogen between Australia and Japan. The Susio Frontier completed its maiden voyage, sailing from Japan to Australia at the end of 2021, where it was loaded with liquified hydrogen before returning to Japan in early 2022.

UK – Aviation

Shell sees a potential opportunity for hydrogen in aviation. In December 2020, Shell invested in ZeroAvia, a hydrogen start-up, which has been conducting test flights in Britain. The company aims to see hydrogen fuelling for commercial flights of up to 500 miles using 10- to 20-seat aircraft by 2023 and commercial jets able to carry up to 200 passengers 3,000 miles by 2030.

Suiso Frontier: World's First Liquefied Hydrogen Carrier

Title: Suiso Frontier: World's First Liquefied Hydrogen Carrier

Duration: 2:18 minutes

Description

A film narrating how Shell, together with its partners, safely delivered the world’s first hydrogen shipment through the HySTRA project.

HySTRA – The dawn of a new era Transcript

Introduction

[Background music plays]

Powerful & cinematic music plays

[Video Footage]

Open on a wide drone shot of a large ship docked at the end of a jetty.

[Text displays]

Suiso Frontier

[Voice over]

The first voyage of the Suiso Frontier signals the dawn of a new era.

[Video Footage]

Low shot of the back of the Suiso Frontier ship whilst still being built in a dock. There are cranes and workers around.

[Voice over]

This 8,000 ton vessel is

[Text displays]

8,000 ton vessel

[Video Footage]

A wide shot of a lorry tank that carries liquified hydrogen. People in hard hats and hi-vis jackets walk by.

[Voice over]

transporting liquified hydrogen

[Video Footage]

Drone shot of the Suiso Frontier leaving the port in which it was built for the first time.

[Voice over]

across the world

[Video Footage]

Drone shot of the port side of the boat out in the open ocean.

[Voice over]

in conditions of -253°C

[Text displays]

-253°C

[Video Footage]

Drone shot of the starboard side of the boat out in an estuary.

[Voice over]

only 20 degrees above absolute zero.

[Text displays]

Absolute zero

[Background music plays]

Uplifting music plays

[Animated sequence]

A map of the world, zoomed into Australia. A location icon animates on and shows Hastings, Australia. A dotted line animates onto the screen coming out from the port of hastings and travelling up and across the ocean to Kobe, Japan, where another location icon animates with Kobe, Japan text being displayed.

[Voice over]

This epic journey from Japan to Australia and back is a world first and represents a milestone of technological innovation.

[Video Footage]

Pan past a Hydrogen pump at a Shell fuel station that displays Shell Hydrogen on it.

[Voice over]

Hydrogen will play a crucial role

[Video Footage]

Hydrogen fuelled lorry pulls up to the Hydrogen pump at a Shell fuel station that displays Shell Hydrogen on it.

[Voice over]

in the energy transition. 

[Video Footage]

Close up of a Hydrogen fuel pump connecting to the lorry

[Voice over]

It produces only water

[Video Footage]

Wider shot of 2 people standing by a Hydrogen bus that is being refuelled at a Shell Hydrogen pump, they are both smiling.

[Voice over]

as an emission,

[Video Footage]

Shot underneath a lorry that shows the liquid water emission dripping onto the road.

[Voice over]

so it will help customers and industries

[Video Footage]

Lorry turning a corner, camera is mounted on the trailer looking forward to the cab as it turns.

[Voice over]

decarbonize around the world. 

[Video Footage]

Drone shot of a bus driving up a long curved road surrounding by tall trees and a green landscape.

 

Scene transition. Hydrogen’s as a fuel and Shell’s Expertise.

[Video Footage]

Scene switches to inside, where we have our first stakeholder interview. Paul Bogers is sitting in a chair on the right with a small lamp table next to him on the screen’s left that has a light and some books on it.

[Text displays]

Paul Bogers. VP, Hydrogen

[Paul Bogers]    

Through the HySTRA project, with our partners, we have proven that global shipping of hydrogen is possible. 

[Video Footage]

Various shots of the outside of the boat, Susio Frontier crew checking parts of the boat, cranes lifting items on board

[Paul Bogers]    

This demonstration is a significant step towards developing a global hydrogen supply chain and

[Video Footage]

Returns to inside where Paul is sitting in the chair.

[Paul Bogers]    

enabling hydrogen to play a major role in the global energy transition. 

[Video Footage]

Suiso Frontier working in the engine room, operating the ship through pressing buttons. They are

[Voice over]

Shell’s expertise in transporting liquefied natural gas

[Video Footage]

Wide low shot of the stern of the ship being moved with a tug boat in port.

[Voice over]

underpins the success of HySTRA. 

[Video Footage]

Shot of lorry fuelling station for transporting liquefied hydrogen

[Voice over]

Transporting hydrogen requires cryogenics and extensive safety measures.

[Video Footage]

Close up of crew member turning knob of technical looking piece of equipment with pressure gauges.

[Video Footage]

Close up of crew member using large wrenches to tighten bolt on cooling equipment outside.

[Video Footage]

Wide shot of two members of crew checking hydrogen filling equipment outside. They. One has a clipboard and is crouching to view a gauge.

[Video Footage]

Scene switches to inside, where we have our second stakeholder interview. Karrie Trauth is sitting on a chair at a desk with a large window behind her.

[Text displays]

Karrie Trauth. SVP, Shipping and Maritime

[Karrie Trauth]  

Shell’s role in the HySTRA project is deploying our technical capabilities for the safe transport of liquid hydrogen and to enable import export potential.

[Video Footage]

Various shots of safety measures on the ship. Hanging up gas masks with oxygen tanks attached, hard hats, safety goggles and crew checking on equipment across the ship with torches.

[Karrie Trauth]

We followed a stringent safety assurance process to ensure the vessel is safe for Shell crew to operate.  

[Video Footage]

Shot returns to Karrie Trauth at her desk.

[Karrie Trauth]

Because this is an industry first, we have also guided  

[Video Footage]

Cuts to various shots of the crew, logging data in binders talking on their walkie talkies and to each other.

[Karrie Trauth]

the development of safety standards and codes for liquid hydrogen for the International Maritime Organization.  

[Video Footage]

Extreme close up shot of a red boiler suit being worn by a crew member. The Shell logo and a Second Officer badge are in focus.

[Video Footage]

Scene switches to inside, where we have our third stakeholder interview. Yoshida,Yasuko is sitting on a chair at a desk with a large bookcase behind her the edge of a computer screen and phone in the foreground.

[Text displays]

Yasuko, Yoshida. Country Chair and GM, Shell Japan Ltd.

[Yasuko, Yoshida]           

This is the culmination of a deep collaboration with partners & government and is a world first.

[Video Footage]

Cuts to wide shot of the Suiso Frontier moving through the water from right to left, with 2 tugboats directing it.

[Yasuko, Yoshida]           

We are proud of what has been achieved through

[Video Footage]

Cuts back to Yasuko, Yoshida at her desk.

[Yasuko, Yoshida]           

Shell’s in-depth knowledge and our long-term relationship with Japan.

[Video Footage]

Japanese flag, attached to the back of the boat flying in the wind.

[Video Footage]

Two crew members standing on the dock, far back from the boat pointing at it.

[Yasuko, Yoshida]           

The learnings from the pilot will form the basis

[Video Footage]

Wide drone shot encircling the ship as it is moored on a jetty. You can see far into the distance.

[Yasuko, Yoshida]           

for further work towards the development of a

[Video Footage]

Cuts back to Yasuko, Yoshida at her desk.

[Yasuko, Yoshida]

large-scale marine transport supply chain for hydrogen.

 

Scene transition. Ending

[Video Footage]

Ship’s officers looking out over the water from the helm and pointing.

[Voice over]

This is a positive step on the path to powering progress.

[Video Footage]

Four of the ship’s crew in the engine room, wearing boiler suits and laughing together.

[Video Footage]

Three of the ship’s crew, including a chef, in the canteen eating, talking and smiling.

[Video Footage]

Two officers and a crew member reviewing documentation and maps in the helm and smiling.

[Video Footage]

Wide drone shot encircling the ship as it is moored on a jetty. You can see far into the distance.

[Voice over]

Shell believes in the important role that decarbonized hydrogen can play in helping the world get to net zero.

[Video Footage]

Shot of the stern and port side of the boat, that pans up to reveal the sky.

[Visual]

Shell Pecten appears over the top of the footage in the centre
[Text displays]

shell.com/hydrogen

© Shell International Limited 2022

[Audio]

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