State oil giant Saudi Aramco said it has signed an agreement with US-based Air Products, a leading industrial gases company in the world, to jointly build the first hydrogen fuel cell vehicle fuelling station in the kingdom.
The new refuelling station will be located within the grounds of Air Products' technology centre in the Dhahran Techno Valley Science Park.
The collaboration between the two companies will combine Air Products’ technological know-how and experience in the field of hydrogen with Saudi Aramco’s industrial experience, facilities and R&D (research and development) capabilities, said a statement from Saudi Aramco.
As per the deal, Saudi Aramco and Air Products will establish a pilot fleet of fuel cell vehicles for which high-purity compressed hydrogen will be dispensed at the new fuelling station, it stated.
Air Products’ proprietary SmartFuel hydrogen fuelling technology will be incorporated into the new station to supply the vehicles with compressed hydrogen.
The collected data during this pilot phase of the project will provide valuable information for the assessment of future applications of this emerging transport technology in the local environment.
The hydrogen refuelling station, the first in the kingdom, is expected to be operational in the second quarter of 2019, it added.
“Hydrogen fuel cells offer an effective means for the electrification of transport while maintaining easy, five-minute refuelling and long driving ranges,” remarked Ahmad Al Khowaiter, the chief technology officer of Saudi Aramco.
“The use of hydrogen derived from oil or gas to power fuel cell electric vehicles represents an exciting opportunity to expand the use of oil in clean transport,” he added.
Dr Samir Serhan, the executive vice-president at Air Products, said: "We are honoured to work on another venture with Saudi Aramco to establish and develop a sustainable hydrocarbon-based hydrogen supply system for pilot demonstration of a fuel cell vehicle fleet in Saudi Arabia,
"It further illustrates our commitment to the kingdom’s 2030 vision," he added.
Toyota Motor Corporation will supply Toyota Mirai Fuel Cell Vehicles for testing in this pilot project.
The auto giant has been investing in hydrogen for over 20 years and in 2014 introduced the Mirai, its first mass-produced hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, said the statement.
The Mirai is a zero-emission vehicle which runs on compressed hydrogen gas and only emits water. The car is powered through a fuel cell which creates electricity by combining oxygen from air with hydrogen from the fuel tank, it stated.
Toyota has long maintained that hydrogen fuel cell technology can offer a sustainable zero emission solution across a broad spectrum of vehicle types, it added.