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Plug Power boosts liquid hydrogen capabilities in acquisition of cryogenic company

Highlights

Company buys Applied Cryo Technologies

Liquid hydrogen seen as future for transportation sector

The US green hydrogen company Plug Power has acquired a Texas-based cryogenic technology company in a bid to expand its liquid hydrogen delivery network, the company said in a statement.

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Plug Power completed the acquisition of Applied Cryo Technologies Nov. 23 after initially announcing plans to do so in October. It's the second acquisition the company has made this month after announcing Nov. 9 the purchase of the Dutch water technology company Frames Group.

Applied Cryo Technologies adds several new capabilities to Plug Power's arsenal. It gives Plug Power a liquid hydrogen delivery network and fleet, liquid hydrogen storage capabilities and hydrogen refueling capabilities for ports, the company said in a statement. The acquisition will help the company build out a "hydrogen highway" across the US, which already includes 165 refueling stations for hydrogen-powered trucks, forklifts and other vehicles.

Largest US green hydrogen production facility

Plug Power has the near-term goal of producing 1,000 mt of green hydrogen -- that produced using renewable energy -- per day by 2028. The company recently opened the US' largest green hydrogen production facility in New York. It has a capacity of producing 45 mt/day of green liquid hydrogen using hydropower from the Niagara Power Plant.

The company said the plant will offer transportation fuels to customers in the northeast region at prices that will be cost competitive to diesel.

S&P Global Platts assessed the Nov. 23 pump price of hydrogen at $15.71/kg in California, where most hydrogen refueling stations in the US are located. The Energy Information Administration assessed the price of diesel in California at $4.78/gallon as of Nov. 22, the latest data available. One gallon of diesel fuel has roughly the same energy content as one kg of hydrogen.

Liquid hydrogen as key

Liquid hydrogen has been hailed as a key component for scaling up hydrogen use within the mobility sector. Earlier this month, Linde COO Sanjiv Lamba said his company sees liquid hydrogen as the "holy grail" for unlocking hydrogen use in transportation applications.

Today, most hydrogen applications in the transportation sector use a gaseous form of hydrogen. Fuel cell engines powered by hydrogen in liquid form could allow heavy-duty vehicles to travel farther.

Liquid hydrogen is created by cooling gaseous hydrogen below -253 degrees Celsius, whereupon it can be stored in insulated tanks. According to the US Department of Energy, liquefaction is an energy-intensive process that consumes more than 30% of the energy content of hydrogen.

However, transporting liquid hydrogen is more cost effective than transporting gaseous hydrogen. Platts data shows that while a single tanker truck can carry between 500 kg and 1,100 kg of gaseous hydrogen, the same truck could carry up to 3,500 kg of liquefied hydrogen.