What is the range of a fuel cell car?

A fuel cell car can drive approximately 600 km on a full tank, regardless of outside temperature. The hydrogen car’s range is determined by the efficiency of the fuel cells and the amount of hydrogen that fits in the car’s tanks. The tanks have to fit together in the limited space available in the vehicle together with other necessary components.
It is reasonable to assume that the range of the next generation of fuel cell cars (we are thinking here a few years in the future – around 2025) will have a range of around 1000 km as a result of even more efficient fuel cells and more tank volume.

How much energy is used to make hydrogen?

It takes about 50 kWh to produce one kilogram of hydrogen. 1 kg of hydrogen gives 33 kWh of energy, which is enough to drive 100 km with a fuel cell car.

How does hydrogen reforming work?

A reformer …

  • … turns a hydrogen-rich fuel into hydrogen
  • … normally needs to be cleaned after reformation
  • … requires hot steam
  • … has an efficiency for methane of approx. 80%
  • … has been used for a long time in industry
Reformation – how it works:
CH4 + H2O -> 3H2 + CO

Conversion of carbon monoxide from above to carbon dioxide and hydrogen (WSG):

CO + H2O -> H2 + CO2

What is a fuel cell?

Fuel cells are energy converters that transform the chemical energy of hydrogen into electricity.

What is hydrogen?

Hydrogen is an energy carrier that can be produced from all kinds of energy sources. In the Nordics, we have an agreement that all the hydrogen we fuel must be produced from renewable energy sources.

How much does it cost to fuel with hydrogen?

For an ordinary passenger car, it costs about 9 SEK per 10 km, just below the cost of diesel and gasoline per 10 km.

Do fuel cell cars contribute to slippery roads in the winter by emitting water vapor?

No, it won’t get more slippery in the winter because more people choose fuel cell cars. The small amount of water that a fuel cell car release is basically the same amount that today’s gasoline cars release. When hydrogen reacts with oxygen in the air, only water is formed. When petrol (primarily octane) reacts with oxygen from the air, water and carbon dioxide are formed (energy is taken both from the oxidation of carbon and hydrogen). Since the energy efficiency of a fuel cell is significantly higher than that of an internal combustion engine, the difference in the amount of water from a hydrogen-powered fuel cell car and a corresponding gasoline-powered car is negligible.

Is there a risk of explosion with a fuel cell car because it is fueled with hydrogen?

All fuel cell cars go through extensive crash tests and have a safety system that makes them at least as safe as regular gasoline cars. Fuel cell cars are tested to the same crash test standards (NCAP) as conventional cars and assessed according to the same strict requirements. A tank exploding is avoided in several ways:

  • Since there is no oxygen in the tanks, an explosion cannot occur inside them.
  • In the event of a fire, there are valves that first shut off the hydrogen flow completely. If
    the temperature continues to rise, the pressure in the tank increases. To prevent the pressure in the tank
    from causing it to burst, there are additional valves that release the hydrogen in a controlled
    manner, away from those sitting in the car.
  • Sensors that detect leaks of hydrogen are located in several places in the car, which sound the alarm and
    turn off the hydrogen if a leak occurs.
  • Hydrogen rises very quickly in the event of a leak, which means that the hydrogen quickly leaves the car in
    a harmless direction in the event of a release, unlike liquid fuels such as diesel and

How is the hydrogen that we fuel with produced?

In Scandinavia, hydrogen is produced only from renewable sources. Generally, green electricity is bought in and used in electrolysis. In Japan and the USA natural gas reforming is sometimes used, which for them can be more environmentally friendly than using electricity, as their electricity mix is almost entirely fossil. They see this as a step towards being able to bring in more renewable electricity, but the process will take a little longer than in Scandinavia where we are already there.

Is the hydrogen transported to the hydrogen fueling station, or is it produced on site?

Now, in an initial stage, the hydrogen is often driven in by truck because there are so few fuel cell cars per station. But in Sandviken, Sweden, an electrolyser is used that is on site. The gas is stored at the station in metal cylinders. The amount that is to be fueled is stored in a high-pressure vessel made of carbon fiber composite.

How much does it cost to produce hydrogen?

Depending on how much hydrogen is made at a time, it costs approximately 40-60 SEK per kg to produce hydrogen with electrolysis (interest on investment excluded). About half of the cost comes from the electricity used in the production, the rest are costs for investment and operation of the electrolyser.
The costs of producing hydrogen are getting lower and lower as the costs of the electrolyzers decrease. As more and more renewable electricity enters the grid, electricity prices vary more and the cost per kg of hydrogen decreases.

Isn’t hydrogen a waste of energy?

To produce hydrogen from electricity, more electricity will be needed than what the hydrogen contains, which applies to all energy conversion processes. The interesting thing is that while more energy is used, hydrogen production with electrolysers provides the opportunity to balance the electricity grid in a way that allows more solar and wind power to be connected, but also that existing wind turbines do not need to be stopped, which is the case today when there are too much electricity in the grid. This means that less solar and wind energy is wasted in an electricity grid with hydrogen production.


When hydrogen is produced by electrolysis, high purity oxygen is formed. Oxygen is used in a variety of industries in everything from shielding gas in metalworking to shortening fat chains in food to improve shelf life. Hospitals and several medical centers use oxygen, where hospitals being the dominant.

Oxygen can be supplied either loaded in cylinders or via pipeline. Bottles have the advantage that it is flexible, but the disadvantage that it requires compressors. The price to healthcare for the oxygen varies extremely; from 8,5 SEK/kg to 400 SEK/kg. In addition to this, a large part of the need is met today with liquid oxygen, but since the cost of condensing the oxygen is high and the willingness to pay is low (1,8 SEK/kg), while the volume of gas is more than sufficient for the corresponding amount of hydrogen, the focus is entirely on gaseous oxygen.

Unfortunately, no information has yet been found whether any actor has gone through the process to get a facility in place where the oxygen is used for medical use in Europe. In the United States this is possible, but in Europe it seems so far unproven. Through contact with the Swedish Medical Products Agency, the process and associated costs have been investigated.

Oxygen is considered medicine, which is why two permits are needed from a facility that will supply medical oxygen; a manufacturing permit from the Medicines Inspectorate regarding the manufacturing process and a registration from the regulatory unit where registration of medicines takes place. The pharmaceutical and biotech department has the scientific knowledge and therefore participates in the investigations for permits.

Of the four existing manufacturers of medical oxygen (Praxair, AGA, Air Liquide and Strandmöllen), all produce by air separation, i.e. not by electrolysis. Air separation is a relatively cheap technology, but significantly more purification is needed than if oxygen from electrolysis is used. Most applicants for licenses for medical oxygen have supplied to industry first, as permits are more expensive for medical manufacturing, although the purity requirements in industry can be significantly higher.

The assessment for the manufacturing permit is based on the EU’s guidelines on good manufacturing practice for medicine intended for humans. If manufacturing takes place in a controlled process that follows ISO 9001, there should be no problem in obtaining a manufacturing permit. Registration with the regulatory body follows the Common Technical Dossier (CTD) template.

Liquid and gaseous hydrogen are different pharmaceuticals, so separate permits are required if both are to be supplied from
the same facility. If an electrolyser as part of an energy storage is placed at a hospital to simplify the delivery of oxygen, the process is slightly different. Normally, one batch of medicine is approved at a time after quality assurance, as is the case with the supply of oxygen for medical use.

In the case of continuous manufacturing, there is now an option in the rules for so-called real-time release, which means that the production is quality assured through continuous process control. This approach is common in other industries but has only recently begun to be used for pharmaceutical production.

The cost of registering a pharmaceutical is approximately 400 000 SEK if the process proceeds without problems. This is a one-time cost for each new plant that produces oxygen. The cost of the manufacturing permit is SEK 30 000 per year, where an inspection every three years is included.