Getting Closer to Hydrogen (as in Infrastructure)

Way back in 1869, Dmitri Mendeleev published his periodic table of the elements.

Way back in 1869, Dmitri Mendeleev published his periodic table of the elements. Hydrogen was, and is, in first place.

So it is fitting that the name of the company that is in the process of establishing the world’s first retail hydrogen vehicle refueling station network is “FirstElement Fuel.”

This week the company announced that it finalized a $25.5-million contract with Air Products for station equipment (a.k.a., fuel pumps). The equipment will be used in the 19 gas stations (realize that hydrogen is generally in a gaseous form, so “gas station” is probably a fitting sobriquet) that FirstElement is going to build in the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas.

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Why there?

Because that’s where the hydrogen-powered vehicles from Hyundai, Toyota, Honda, and Mercedes-Benz are, or will be, found.

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On the one hand, this is all about meeting the requirements of the California Air Resources Board.

On the other hand, this is about putting the supply where the demand will be.

And on the third hand, chances are if hydrogen vehicles are going to become successful in the market, it will be easier to get traction in places like San Francisco and LA than, say, Detroit and Indianapolis.

Incidentally: the CEO of FirstElement Fuel is Joel Ewanick, former vice president and Global Marketing Officer of General Motors. Ewanick also held positions at Hyundai and Porsche, so he knows more than a little something about the auto industry and non-traditional approaches toward doing things within it—and hydrogen fuel is nothing if not non-trad.