Image for Hydrogen-Powered Vehicles Make a Substantial Impact in Heavy-Duty Transportation

Hydrogen-Powered Vehicles Make a Substantial Impact in Heavy-Duty Transportation

Gases / Industries

In the early 2000’s, the U.S. Government announced that hydrogen-powered cars were going to be the automobile of the future. An ambitious 1.2 billion dollars was designated to fund a hydrogen fuel package, aiming to decrease global carbon emissions. However, this initiative never fully gained traction and electric cars, like Tesla, captured the growing clean-energy, vehicle market instead.

Fast forward twenty years and as companies continue to search for cleaner, more sustainable energy alternatives, hydrogen has become a popular solution for a variety of industries. For the transportation industry, heavy industrial vehicles are a primary focal point in the growing hydrogen economy because of their significant contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. Hydrogen is the preferred choice to power heavy industrial vehicles because it’s reliable, versatile, and can be produced in a variety of ways. Utilizing hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in heavy-duty transportation will drastically decrease carbon emissions, especially when alternatives like electric power, aren’t a sensible option.

According to Bryan Chapman, Energy Sciences Principal at ExxonMobil, “There are applications in the energy sector that require high energy density. Think long distance trucks, ships, heavy industry, steel, chemical production, cement. These applications will continue to need high energy density fuels and are unlikely to be electrified very easily. So, this is where we need a low-carbon fuel source like hydrogen” (, 2023).


How Hydrogen Fuel Cells Power Vehicles

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are clean, pollution-free, and environmentally friendly. Several major car manufacturers have announced they will introduce hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in 2024. The main difference between hydrogen power and electric power is that hydrogen power does not consume electricity, but produces its own. A fuel cell works like a battery, but rather than “charging,” a fuel cell creates electricity through a chemical reaction occurring between hydrogen gas, which is administered at the pump, and oxygen, which is pulled from the air. Two plates with a negative and a positive charge sandwich an electrolyte membrane. A catalyst is created when the two gases meet, and a positive charge of hydrogen passes through the membrane. Electrons travel through a circuit and the gases meet to produce H2O as a byproduct. The fuel cell releases enough electricity to run the electric motors of vehicles, machinery, and generators. The “exhaust” is simply the byproduct of water vapor and warm air, which is what makes hydrogen a green fuel.

Hydrogen fuel is the middle ground between standard gasoline-run vehicles and electric vehicles. While it produces electricity, it still requires regular refilling at a pump. There are perks to this however, as filling a hydrogen tank takes minutes, as opposed to the hours it takes to charge an electric vehicle, and hydrogen vehicles have a much longer travel range.


Future Investment

The cost of hydrogen gas been an implementation obstacle, but countries, such as the U.S., are seeking to make it more affordable. In June 2021, the Department of Energy launched a program called the Hydrogen Shot. The goal is to reduce the cost of clean hydrogen to $1 per one kilogram, in one decade. According to the Department of Energy, “The Hydrogen Shot establishes a framework and foundation for clean hydrogen deployment in the American Jobs Plan, which includes support for demonstration projects. Achieving the Hydrogen Shot’s 80% cost reduction goal can unlock new markets for hydrogen, including steel manufacturing, clean ammonia, energy storage, and heavy-duty trucks.

In October 2023, the Biden-Harris Administration announced $7 billion for America’s first clean hydrogen hubs to drive clean manufacturing and deliver new economic opportunities. According to the Department of Energy (DOE), “As part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, a key pillar of Bidenomics, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today (Oct. 13) announced $7 billion to launch seven Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs (H2Hubs) across the nation and accelerate the commercial-scale deployment of low-cost, clean hydrogen—a valuable energy product that can be produced with zero or near-zero carbon emissions and is crucial to meeting the President’s climate and energy security goals. Funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the seven H2Hubs will kickstart a national network of clean hydrogen producers, consumers, and connective infrastructure while supporting the production, storage, delivery, and end-use of clean hydrogen”. Regarding hydrogen, the DOE went on to say, “Its unique characteristics will allow the H2Hubs to substantially reduce harmful emissions from some of the most energy-intensive sectors of the economy, such as chemical and industrial processes and heavy-duty transportation” (, 2023).


Hydrogen Gas in the Rocky Mountain Region

Rocky Mountain Air Solutions is a trusted distributor of hydrogen gas in Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, and Nebraska for its various uses in the automotive industry, aerospace, oil and gas, and more. We supply hydrogen in high pressure cylinders or in bulk, depending on your usage needs. Contact your local branch today to get a usage estimate or to inquire about partnering with RMA as your hydrogen gas supplier. We look forward to serving you with flawless dependability!

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