Hydrogen stations: What’s to know?

April 12, 2023
Hydrogen stations: What’s to know?

To fill the tanks of clean, zero-emission vehicles, such as cars, forklifts, tractors, buses, trucks, refuse collection trucks, boats, trains, etc., filling stations must be supplied with hydrogen that is processed, compressed and delivered to them from a production site.  

Filling up with hydrogen, as simple and quick as filling up with petrol

Let’s start by highlighting what doesn’t change! Filling up a new Mirai car in a hydrogen station is just as straightforward as refuelling a conventional combustion engine car. Only the filling unit is really different – hydrogen comes in kilograms rather than litres, but everything else is similar. You still have your pump, nozzle, terminal keypad and information screen, and above all the charging time is no different – in less than five minutes the tank is full, and the Mirai can set off again for around 650 kilometres.

Behind the scenes at a hydrogen station

Before being able to distribute fuel, a hydrogen station must first complete several processes:

  • First, the hydrogen must be stored in cylinder racks, tanks or tube trailers,
  • It needs to be compressed (to 500 bar for vehicles that run on 350-bar hydrogen and to 900 bar for vehicles that run on700-bar hydrogen, which depends on the vehicle type),
  • Then it must be stored again in tanks known as buffers.
  • Before being distributed, the hydrogen must be cooled using an exchanger and a cold unit (for 700-bar stations only).
  • Only then can the hydrogen be used to fill a tank via the hose and nozzle of the dispenser.

Hydrogen station infrastructure is built above ground and is simple to install, repair and upgrade.

Who installs hydrogen stations?

In addition to developers and operators of service stations – who are diversifying their offer and promoting clean mobility with hydrogen – local authorities, companies, manufacturers or operators of vehicle/bus fleets can also install their own hydrogen stations for refuelling their fleet. Some such private operators also open their stations to the public.  

In some areas, ecosystems have been set up to co-develop stations that meet the needs of all local users.  

What do the current hydrogen stations offer?

A hydrogen station’s offering can be defined based on a few main criteria:

  • Compression: 350 bar and/or 700 bar ( or 35 and/or 70 MPa). Some hydrogen stations only deliver 350 bar, some only 700 bar, and others deliver both.
  • Storage capacity: This ranges from a few kilos – for supplying a small light vehicle fleet – to several tonnes of hydrogen a day for refuelling trucks, boats, planes, trains, etc.
  • Flow rate: Fuelling time will vary depending on the station’s flow rate, the vehicle and the vehicle’s fuelling protocol.

One sign that the sector is already mature is that there is a standard for hydrogen stations – the SAE J2601 standard establishes the protocol and process limits for supplying hydrogen to light fuel cell electric vehicles.

Where are the first hydrogen stations?  

See the collaborative map of stations

France – which plans in its Hydrogen Plan to install more than 100 hydrogen stations in 2023 – must accelerate its network to allow individuals and professionals to fuel their vehicles within a timeframe that matches the plans of vehicle manufacturers and fuel distributors.

What is a hydrogen fuel station?
What is a hydrogen fuel station?

Hydrogen fuel stations, also known as hydrogen refueling stations or H2 stations, are facilities that store and dispense hydrogen gas for use in fuel cell vehicles. These stations play a crucial role in the adoption of hydrogen as a clean, sustainable alternative to fossil fuels for transportation. In this article, we'll explore the different types of hydrogen fuel stations, their key components, the refueling process, safety measures, and the future of hydrogen infrastructure.

Basics of Hydrogen as a Fuel

Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe and has the potential to be a clean, renewable fuel source. When used in a fuel cell, hydrogen combines with oxygen to produce electricity, with only water and heat as byproducts. This makes it an attractive alternative to traditional gasoline or diesel fuels, which produce harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

Types of Hydrogen Fuel Stations

There are two primary types of hydrogen fuel stations: gaseous hydrogen stations and liquid hydrogen stations.

Gaseous Hydrogen Stations

Gaseous hydrogen stations store hydrogen gas under high pressure, typically at 350 to 700 bar (5,000 to 10,000 psi). These stations compress the hydrogen, which is then stored in high-pressure tanks before being dispensed to vehicles. Gaseous hydrogen stations are the most common type of hydrogen refueling station.

Liquid Hydrogen Stations

Liquid hydrogen stations store hydrogen in its liquid state at extremely low temperatures (-253°C or -423°F). These stations require more complex equipment and insulation to maintain the hydrogen at such low temperatures, but they offer advantages in terms of storage capacity and refueling speed.

Key Components of a Hydrogen Fuel Station

A hydrogen fuel station typically consists of three main components:

  1. Compressors: Compressors are used to increase the pressure of hydrogen gas, allowing it to be stored efficiently in tanks and dispensed to vehicles.
  2. Storage Tanks: Storage tanks hold hydrogen gas under pressure until it's dispensed to a vehicle. Tanks at hydrogen fuel stations can store hydrogen in either gaseous or liquid form.
  3. Dispensers: Dispensers are the interface between the fuel station and the vehicle. They provide a safe and controlled means of transferring hydrogen from the storage tanks to the vehicle's fuel cell system.

The Hydrogen Refueling Process

Refueling a hydrogen-powered vehicle is similar to refueling a gasoline-powered vehicle. The driver parks near the dispenser, connects the dispenser nozzle to the vehicle's fuel receptacle, and initiates the refueling process. The dispenser then transfers hydrogen from the station's storage tanks to the vehicle's fuel cell system. The entire process usually takes between 3 to 5 minutes, comparable to refueling with gasoline or diesel.

Safety Measures at Hydrogen Fuel Stations

Hydrogen fuel stations employ several safety measures to ensure the safe handling and storage of hydrogen. These measures include:

  1. Leak detection systems that monitor for any potential hydrogen leaks in storage tanks, dispensers, and piping.
  2. 2. Ventilation systems that prevent the build-up of hydrogen gas in the event of a leak.
  1. Emergency shut-off systems that automatically isolate the source of a leak and stop the flow of hydrogen.
  2. Fire suppression systems designed to quickly extinguish any potential fires.
  3. Training for station operators to ensure proper handling and maintenance of hydrogen fueling equipment.

Benefits of Hydrogen Fuel Stations

Hydrogen fuel stations offer several advantages over traditional gasoline and diesel stations, including:

  1. Reduced greenhouse gas emissions: Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles emit only water vapor and heat, significantly reducing transportation-related emissions.
  2. Renewable fuel source: Hydrogen can be produced from a variety of renewable sources, such as water electrolysis powered by solar or wind energy.
  3. Energy security: Hydrogen can be produced domestically, reducing dependence on imported oil.
  4. Fast refueling times: Hydrogen refueling is similar in speed to gasoline refueling, providing a more convenient experience compared to electric vehicle charging.

Challenges in Expanding Hydrogen Fuel Station Infrastructure

Despite the benefits, there are several challenges to expanding hydrogen fuel station infrastructure:

  1. High capital costs: The construction and operation of hydrogen fuel stations require significant investments in equipment and technology.
  2. Limited number of hydrogen-powered vehicles: The current market for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles is relatively small, limiting demand for hydrogen refueling stations.
  3. Competition from electric vehicles: The growth of battery electric vehicles and charging infrastructure may impact the adoption of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

The Future of Hydrogen Fuel Stations

The future of hydrogen fuel stations will likely depend on continued advancements in fuel cell technology, reductions in hydrogen production and storage costs, and increased demand for hydrogen-powered vehicles. As governments and private companies continue to invest in hydrogen infrastructure, the number of hydrogen fuel stations is expected to grow, further supporting the adoption of hydrogen as a sustainable transportation fuel.


Hydrogen fuel stations are a critical component in the shift towards clean, sustainable transportation. As the number of hydrogen-powered vehicles increases, the development of a robust hydrogen fueling infrastructure will be essential. By understanding the different types of hydrogen fuel stations, their key components, and the refueling process, we can better appreciate the potential for hydrogen as a viable alternative to traditional fossil fuels.


U.S. Department of Energy - Hydrogen Fueling Stations

International Energy Agency (IEA) - The Future of Hydrogen

See all hydrogen refueling stations on Lhyfe Heroes

Atawey - Compact XS

McPhy - McFilling 350

McPhy - McFilling XXL

McPhy - McFilling Dual

McPhy - McFilling 20-350  (Starter Kit)

Maximator - Hydrogen Refueling Station

Sera - Hydrogen Refuelling Stations Type M

Sera - Hydrogen Refuelling Stations Type S

Sera - Hydrogen Refuelling Stations Type L

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The Ultimate Guide to Hydrogen Fuel: Powering a Clean Future
The Ultimate Guide to Hydrogen Fuel: Powering a Clean Future

Hydrogen fuel is an energy source that has been around for some time, but only recently has it been gaining significant attention. As a clean, efficient, and renewable source of power, it's an excellent solution for many of our energy needs.

Unveiling the Power of Hydrogen

Hydrogen, the most abundant element in the universe, is a powerful energy carrier. It's lightweight, energy-dense, and produces water when it's used as fuel. The real beauty of hydrogen energy lies in its potential to provide clean, renewable power that doesn't contribute to climate change.

Hydrogen Fuel: A Renewable Energy Source

Hydrogen can be produced from various renewable sources like water, biomass, and even waste. The process of electrolysis, which splits water into hydrogen and oxygen, is a popular method of hydrogen production. Using renewable electricity to power electrolysis makes the entire process green, creating a truly renewable hydrogen fuel.

Hydrogen Fuel Cells: The Heart of Hydrogen Power

At the heart of hydrogen energy is the hydrogen fuel cell, a device that combines hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, with water and heat as byproducts. These fuel cells are efficient, quiet, and emissions-free, making them a superb solution for a wide range of applications.

Hydrogen Fuel for Vehicles

Hydrogen fuel cells have enormous potential in the automotive industry. They can power cars, buses, and even trucks, providing a driving experience similar to conventional vehicles but without the harmful emissions.

Hydrogen Fuel in Aviation

The aviation industry is eyeing hydrogen fuel as a way to reduce its environmental impact. Several companies are already working on hydrogen-powered aircraft, signaling a future where air travel doesn't have to mean contributing to global warming.

Hydrogen Fuel in the Energy Sector

Hydrogen is also emerging as a crucial player in the energy sector. It can store excess energy from renewable sources, provide backup power, and even heat homes and businesses.

Overcoming Challenges for Hydrogen Fuel

Hydrogen fuel, despite its promise, faces several challenges. These include high production costs, the need for extensive infrastructure, and ensuring safety during storage and transportation. But with ongoing research and innovation, these hurdles are gradually being overcome.

A Glimpse into the Future of Hydrogen Energy

Hydrogen fuel could play a major role in our energy future. As we continue to develop and deploy this technology, we're likely to see it powering everything from our cars to our homes, transforming our energy system into one that's clean, efficient, and sustainable.

Harnessing the Potential of Hydrogen Fuel

Understanding the potential of hydrogen fuel is key to advancing a clean energy future. With its ability to provide reliable, clean power, hydrogen could very well be the solution to many of our energy challenges.

Hydrogen Fuel: A Step Towards Sustainability

Hydrogen fuel represents a crucial step towards a more sustainable world. By harnessing the power of this abundant element, we can not only meet our energy needs but also do so in a way that respects and preserves our planet.

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Understanding How a Hydrogen Fuel Cell Works: A Comprehensive Guide
Understanding How a Hydrogen Fuel Cell Works: A Comprehensive Guide

Hydrogen fuel cells have been gaining attention as a clean and efficient power source for a variety of applications, from vehicles to stationary power systems. To better understand the potential of this technology, let's dive into the inner workings of hydrogen fuel cells.

Basic Principles of Hydrogen Fuel Cells

A hydrogen fuel cell is an electrochemical device that converts the chemical energy stored in hydrogen and oxygen into electrical energy. The process involves combining hydrogen and oxygen in the presence of a catalyst to produce electricity, water, and heat.

Key Components of a Hydrogen Fuel Cell

A typical hydrogen fuel cell consists of the following main components:

  1. Anode: The anode is the negative electrode of the fuel cell, where hydrogen is fed and split into protons and electrons.
  2. Cathode: The cathode is the positive electrode, where oxygen is reduced and reacts with the protons and electrons to form water.
  3. Electrolyte: The electrolyte is a substance that allows the flow of protons between the anode and cathode while preventing the direct mixing of hydrogen and oxygen.
  4. Catalyst: The catalyst, usually made of platinum, accelerates the electrochemical reactions occurring at the anode and cathode.
  5. Bipolar Plates: Bipolar plates are used to distribute the reactant gases, collect the generated electricity, and provide structural support for the fuel cell stack.

Types of Hydrogen Fuel Cells

There are several types of hydrogen fuel cells, each with unique characteristics and applications:

  1. Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells (PEMFC): PEMFCs use a polymer electrolyte membrane and operate at relatively low temperatures, making them suitable for transportation and portable power applications.
  2. Direct Methanol Fuel Cells (DMFC): DMFCs use methanol as fuel, simplifying the fuel storage and delivery systems. They are often employed in portable power systems and small-scale stationary applications.
  3. Alkaline Fuel Cells (AFC): AFCs use an alkaline electrolyte solution and have been used in space missions and submarines due to their high efficiency and power density.
  4. Phosphoric Acid Fuel Cells (PAFC): PAFCs use a liquid phosphoric acid electrolyte and are commonly used in stationary power generation for commercial buildings and utilities.
  5. Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFC): SOFCs utilize a solid ceramic electrolyte and operate at high temperatures, making them suitable for large-scale stationary power applications and combined heat and power systems.
  1. Molten Carbonate Fuel Cells (MCFC): MCFCs use a molten carbonate salt electrolyte and are also designed for large-scale stationary power generation, with the added benefit of being able to utilize various fuel sources, including natural gas and biogas.

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Reactions

The operation of a hydrogen fuel cell can be broken down into three main reactions:

  1. Anode Reaction: At the anode, hydrogen molecules are split into protons (H+) and electrons (e-). The reaction can be represented as: H2 → 2H+ + 2e-
  2. Cathode Reaction: At the cathode, oxygen molecules are reduced, and they react with protons and electrons to form water. The reaction is: O2 + 4H+ + 4e- → 2H2O
  3. Overall Reaction: The overall reaction in a hydrogen fuel cell is the combination of the anode and cathode reactions, which can be represented as: 2H2 + O2 → 2H2O + electrical energy

Efficiency of Hydrogen Fuel Cells

Hydrogen fuel cells are highly efficient energy conversion devices, with efficiencies ranging from 40-60%. This is significantly higher than the efficiency of internal combustion engines, which usually operate at around 25-30% efficiency.

Advantages of Hydrogen Fuel Cells

Hydrogen fuel cells offer several benefits, including:

  1. High energy conversion efficiency
  2. Environmentally friendly operation with zero harmful emissions
  3. Quiet and vibration-free operation
  4. Scalability and modularity, making them suitable for various applications
  5. Low maintenance requirements due to the absence of moving parts

Challenges and Limitations

Despite their advantages, hydrogen fuel cells face several challenges, such as:

  1. High cost of fuel cell components, particularly the catalyst materials
  2. Limited hydrogen infrastructure for fuel delivery and storage
  3. Durability and reliability concerns, particularly in automotive applications
  4. Public perception and awareness of hydrogen as a viable energy carrier

Applications of Hydrogen Fuel Cells

Hydrogen fuel cells have a wide range of applications, including:

  1. Transportation: Fuel cell electric vehicles, buses, and trucks
  2. Stationary power generation: Backup power, remote power systems, and grid support
  3. Portable power: Emergency power supplies, military applications, and consumer electronics

Future Prospects

As research and development continue, hydrogen fuel cells are expected to become more cost-effective and widely adopted in various sectors. Innovations in materials, manufacturing processes, and system integration will likely improve performance and durability, further expanding their potential applications.


Understanding how a hydrogen fuel cell works is crucial in realizing its potential as a clean and efficient energy source. With ongoing advancements, hydrogen fuel cells hold promise for a more sustainable energy future.

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