04 April 2022
The first round of Hello Mentor has been completed
- International talent
Please introduce yourself!
My name is Ted Straten. I am working as Vice President Strategy and New Business for BOSAL, a leading manufacturer in mobility and energy. We currently have sixteen industrial sites, six R&D centers and 1,700 employees worldwide.
For decades, our core business was manufacturing and supply of exhausts. But internal combustion engines are under pressure. To meet climate goals, we must reduce CO2 emissions worldwide. And it is important to include such trends in our business strategy. Our competencies in materials and technical design combined with our global branch network will help us future proof our other products as well. One of our key competencies over the past hundred years has been the use of metals at high temperatures. We know how and which materials we need to design products with the right lifespan. That is why our focus is on the production of high-temperature heat exchangers for fuel cells and electrolyzers.
Currently, we are already manufacturing and supplying modules for electrolyzers at huge solar and wind farms. We are looking at ways to also use this technology in mini grids around cities, business parks, and residential areas to generate, store, and use energy locally.
We also focus on the production of heat exchanging systems for high-temperature fuel cells. A fuel cell is a device that converts hydrogen and oxygen into electricity, heat, and water without releasing any hazardous substances.
This year, BOSAL, a true Dutch family business, is celebrating its 100th year anniversary. A good reason for a party after the summer.
Why is it so important to participate in this project?
It is important to work together, especially now. BOSAL is a company in transition, and we see that our current market is under pressure. Green Transport Delta is helping us and the other partners, with the help of some government funding, to work together to create a new robust Dutch manufacturing industry. But of course, all partners are also investing in the project. This way, we shape the collaboration and invest in the development of new technologies. As that takes a lot of money and effort.
There are many advantages to high temperature cell technology. One advantage is that the high-temperature fuel cell has a high efficiency and that it works with any fuel. This versatility can be of key importance in the fuel transition.
We all want to replace fossil petrol and diesel with hydrogen. However, worldwide transportation of hydrogen is quite difficult. To transport hydrogen, we use e-fuels such as ammonia or methanol. A big advantage of high-temperature fuel cells is that these blends can be directly used in the cell.
In addition to its high efficiency, a fuel cell is very flexible in terms of fuel. But it also has some disadvantages. The cell operates at high temperature, which means, for example, that it takes quite some time before a fuel cell has started up. And that it is difficult to quickly change the desired output. If you want to use this system in the mobility sector, you have to carefully look at how to deal with the fuel cell's lack of response to power output, and how to keep the cell at the right temperature. This is exactly why we are participating in GTD-H; to develop new strategies and materials to make this technology work.
How will these innovations affect the Dutch citizens?
There are some things that people can easily recognize; cars and engines can run on hydrogen, but fuel cells will also be used for heavy transport, trucks, and buses. The beauty of a fuel cell is that it makes no noise and emits no CO2. Trucks and buses are going to be quieter.
We will all notice that our environment will be less polluted. Not only in terms of pollution from gases or aggressive substances, but also in terms of noise pollution.
I expect the transport industry to scale up the use of fuel cells around 2030. Then, the number of electric trucks with battery packs will significantly increase. For highway transportation, trucks will use both batteries and fuel cells.
I really believe in a combination of battery technology and hydrogen fuel cells for long-distance transportation. When using this combination, you avoid lengthy charging breaks when on the road. The advantage of a fuel cell is that it provides continuous power, continuously fully charging the battery pack. Hence, you don't need extra batteries because you always carry a charger. The energy that is stored aboard the vehicle is hydrogen. The fuel cell continuously converts hydrogen into electricity. It works differently for peak load, however. The energy needed for peak load is provided by the battery pack instead of the fuel cell. So, a fuel cell will always be used in combination with a small battery pack.
Of course, the partners within the GTD-H project are also looking at infrastructure. For example, Gasunie has certain ideas about the use of existing gas pipelines. The Netherlands also has storage tanks, refineries, pipelines, and gas stations. E-fuels are therefore a good option to use as plug-in fuel in the current infrastructure. Recently, a decision was made at European level about the future of Ten-T (Trans-European Network). That is a network of transport routes throughout Europe. That decision stipulates that these routes should contain a hydrogen refueling station and a charging station for heavy transport every 200 and 120 km, respectively. So ultimately, we are moving towards a hydrogen infrastructure in Europe.