Future mobility concept Future mobility concept

2022.01.17 Hyundai Motor Group 분량12min

A Paradigm Shifter, Shifting Towards a Hydrogen Society

Hydrogen, the most lightweight and abundant element in the universe, is the chemical element with the atomic number one. Using this small hydrogen, Hyundai Motor Group succeeded in mass-producing the world’s first hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicle (FCEV) back in 2013. Since then, Hyundai Motor Group’s hydrogen project has been a paradigm shifter by introducing hydrogen-related inventions, such as next-generation FCEVs, hydrogen-powered houses, commercial FCEVs, and even future mobility solutions, showing us what hydrogen society might look like.

PROSPECT | FCEVs Creating Butterfly Effect in a Hydrogen Society

The attention towards hydrogen energy is growing as green energy sources are becoming more and more important in various industries. With current fossil fuel polluting the Earth and being limited in quantity, hydrogen has never been more promising than before. And environmental regulations such as the Paris Agreement or the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of the UN regarding CO2 emissions getting stricter worldwide also indicate that hydrogen could be the answer to our problems. Global hydrogen consumption will take up about 18 percent of the world’s energy demand, reducing about 600 million tons of CO2 annually.

Hydrogen energy not only is cost-effective by solving environmental problems but also strengthens energy security by reducing the energy imbalance. Hydrogen creates new markets, new values, and even a new era – beyond the automotive industry.

Infographic about Hyundai Motor Group key areas of development in the hydrogen industry

Hyundai Motor Group’s key areas of development in the hydrogen industry

TECHNOLOGY | Core Technologies of Hydrogen Energy

Advantages of Hydrogen Energy


Unlike conventional fossil fuels, hydrogen generates only water, electricity, and heat when converted to electricity and heat, and does not emit greenhouse gases or fine dust.


Hydrogen fuel cells have an efficiency of 50-60% when producing electricity alone and 80-90% when waste heat is recycled. It is a very efficient power source considering that the efficiency of internal combustion engines is 20-30%. Hydrogen makes up 75% of the cosmic mass and 90% of all cosmic molecules, making it an abundant source of energy.


Unlike fossil fuels, hydrogen is secondary energy that can be made through decomposition of natural gas, petroleum, coal, and water. When liquefied under minus 263°C, the volume is reduced to 1/800, so when compressed in a high-pressure tank, it is easy to store and transport. Advances in technology to improve storage costs and capacity are expected to make it more useful.

Energy Flexibility

So far, when using existing energy sources, oil, gas, coal, and nuclear power were needed to be applied for various purposes. However, in using hydrogen, generated energy can be converted into hydrogen for fuel cells through electrochemical processes; hence, enhancing sustainability.

Hydrogen energy tanks


Infographic about Hydrogen Energy Consisting of Features Contrary to that of Hydrogen Bombs

Hydrogen Energy: Consisting of Features Highly Contrary to that of Hydrogen Bombs

Hydrogen bombs has very little to no relation with FCEV technology. The only real connection is the usage of the word ‘hydrogen.’

Hydrogen is a gas 14 times lighter than the atmosphere, traveling 24 meters every second, so it immediately vaporizes into the air if there is a leak. In the case of the hydrogen bomb, materials are not pressurized hydrogen gas, but deuterium and tritium. Even if deuterium and tritium were present, getting the explosive power of a hydrogen bomb will require extreme heat and pressure, which is over a hundred million degrees at thousands of bars of pressure.

Outer and inner space of Hydrogen tanks

Fire-and-Impact-Proof Hydrogen Tanks

Hydrogen fuel tanks require the highest level of safety and have to survive a strict regulatory certification, such as the UN’s global integrated standard, one of the harshest regulations in the world; the tanks have withstood permeability tests for gas leakage, fire-resistant tests in case of a vehicle fire, and impact tests for traffic accidents.

There are multiple real-time sensors that detect any leakage on the fuel tank. If a hydrogen leak is detected, either during standard operation or in an external impact that damages the feed system, the driver’s dashboard display puts up a warning. The safety system may even choke the hydrogen fuel tank valve, preventing mass ejection of hydrogen from the tank, which may lead to other hazards.

Multiple real time sensors that detect any leakage on the fuel tank

Hydrogen fuel tank safety tests

Hydrogen fuel tank safety tests


Expanding Hydrogen Ecosystem

The hydrogen value chain comprises of supply, storage/transport, and usage.

The hydrogen value chain comprises of supply, storage/transport, and usage

1. Hydrogen Supply

Hyundai Motor Group has medium-and long-term plans for hydrogen supply. There are several different kinds of hydrogen – byproduct hydrogen through petrochemical processing, extracted hydrogen from natural gas, and electrolysis hydrogen using electricity from renewable energy. 

Cost-effectiveness is a crucial aspect for hydrogen mobility, so, in the short run, mass-producing cheap extracted hydrogen is a better idea than expensive electrolysis hydrogen. In the meanwhile, the company plans to use hydrogen extractors for less CO2 emission.

In the long run, on the other hand, the Group will focus on supplying ‘green’ hydrogen – electrolysis hydrogen from renewable energy – rather than ‘blue’ hydrogen, such as byproduct hydrogen or extracted hydrogen. Electrolysis hydrogen is called green hydrogen as it is generated from renewable power sources such as solar or wind energy, without emitting CO2.

*Green hydrogen: Split water into hydrogen and oxygen using an electric current, and when the electricity is produced by renewable sources such as solar or wind, the hydrogen produced will be the most eco-friendly.

*Blue hydrogen: Hydrogen generated while collecting, separating, and storing carbon dioxide.

2. Hydrogen Storage/Transport

Hydrogen storage and transportation processes are directly related to securing cost-effectiveness. Hyundai Motor Group aims to reduce costs by making storage and transportation more efficient and by expanding storage capacity. So, the company is trying to secure technologies for liquid hydrogen, liquid materials such as ammonia and liquid organic compounds, and solid storage methods for long-distance and large-capacity transportation. In order to secure green hydrogen, the Group is establishing a collaborated system to introduce green hydrogen to South Korea; the hydrogen is produced in Australia or the Middle East where renewable energy is abundant, or using electrolysis hydrogen, the company would then bring it to Korea in the form of liquefied hydrogen or ammonia.

3. Hydrogen Usage

Hyundai Motor Group plans to utilize hydrogen energy in various ways such as hydrogen drones, hydrogen vessels, trains, Urban Air Mobility (UAM), as well as cars and trucks. And the Group is creating a hydrogen ecosystem through the shared growth of related industries such as energy, steel, chemicals, and new materials.

Graph of Hydrogen Usage

Future Mobility

PAV (Personal Air Vehicle) such as Urban Air Mobility (UAM) and Drone Taxi: Speaking of next-generation power source, the aviation industry is paying attention to hydrogen fuel cells, hydrogen fuel turbines, and hydrogen synthetic fuel. Hyundai Motor Group plans to utilize hydrogen fuel cells for medium and long distance trips, and hydrogen turbines for long distances.


Hydrogen Vessels: Currently, ships use internal combustion engines powered by fossil fuel such as heavy oil, diesel, gas oil, which is noisy and not so eco-friendly. According to the European Commission, 2.5 percent of global carbon emissions is generated from vessels. Since they will also have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, it is highly likely that most countries will use hydrogen energy as a power source for small vessels, auxiliary power for large vessels, and synthetic fuels. Hydrogen vessels will be not only great for fishermen but also for the environment.

Hydrogen Electric Trains and Trams: Hydrogen electric trains and trams that Hyundai Rotem and Hyundai Motor Company are developing hydrogen electric trains and trams that do not emit pollutants other than water. They do not require electric power supply facilities such as electric cables and substations, which can save electricity infrastructure construction and maintenance costs. UCS (Union of Concerned Scientists) and Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport in South Korea analyzed that hydrogen-powered train emits much less than a diesel train, indicating hydrogen trains produce 51.9% less CO2 than diesel trains.

Not to mention diesel cars and trains, considering that trams should be quiet and eco-friendly enough to be utilized in the city center, hydrogen fuel cells can be our next step to a carbon-neutral society.

Hydrogen electric tram

Hydrogen electric tram

Construction Machines

Hydrogen Forklift and Excavator: Hyundai Motor Company, Hyundai Mobis, and Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co. succeeded in developing hydrogen forklift in September 2020. Unlike conventional forklifts that require a long time to refuel or charge electricity, hydrogen forklifts use electricity produced through the chemical reactions in the fuel cell as its power source, after filling hydrogen in the tank. The newly developed hydrogen forklift can lift up to 5 tons of cargo. It will be the world’s first hydrogen energy-based medium and large-sized construction machine with the highest load capacity. Besides the hydrogen forklift, hydrogen excavators are also under development for commercialization by 2023.

For Power Generation/ Households/ Buildings

Hydrogen Fuel Cells: Hydrogen fuel cells will play a key role in hydrogen society, considering their availability for households, industrial sites, and vehicles. Starting from applying hydrogen fuel cells to FCEVs, Hyundai Motor Group plans to expand its usage to power generation, for economies of scale.

Hydrogen fuel cells are efficient, quiet, emit no carbon dioxide, and can be installed in the city center on a small scale. Therefore, it is being considered as a truly eco-friendly power source. Other renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power heavily depend on geographical conditions or natural environment; hence, resulting in irregular production. Whereas, hydrogen fuel cells can be continuously produced. without considering the surrounding environment, contributing to the stabilization. Besides, while fuel cells generate electricity, people can use the heat coming from the process to heat the building or warm up the tap water.

Starting from byproduct hydrogen, Hyundai Motor Group aims to develop its power generation system using green hydrogen. Furthermore, in the future when hydrogen pipelines are ubiquitous, the company plans to expand energy self-sufficiency and heat utilization through hydrogen fuel cells generated in each and every buildings.

ROAD MAP | Our Future Plan for a Hydrogen Society

Hydrogen Charging Station

Hyundai Motor Group’s hydrogen project, which plans to manufacture 500,000 hydrogen-powered vehicles every year by 2030, is just for the vehicles.

Hyundai Motor Group and its partners leading global industries are expanding hydrogen charging infrastructure, and they are developing hydrogen fuel cell technology even for other industries.

Hyundai Motor Group

Partners Projects
Hyundai Mobis Construction of the world’s largest production plant for manufacturing key parts of FCEV, producing hydrogen fuel cell modules (Chungju plant)
Hyundai Steel Byproduct hydrogen Production, metal separator plate plant for FCEVs (Dangjin steelmill)
Hyundai Rotem Joint business and technology development of hydrogen infrastructure, the introduction of overseas green hydrogen, establishment of a joint venture for fusion charging stations for commercial FCEVs, joint development of technologies for carbon dioxide capture


Partners Projects
Korea gas corporation Joint business and technology development of hydrogen infrastructure, the introduction of overseas green hydrogen, establishment of a joint venture for fusion charging stations for commercial FCEVs, joint development of technologies for carbon dioxide capture
Hyundai Engineering & Construction, Glovis, Korea Gas Corporation, Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering Co., Ltd., Woodside (As part of overseas green hydrogen import) Transportation of green hydrogen produced from renewable energy in Australia, in the form of liquid or ammonia, to charging stations in South Korea.
Korea East-West Power Co., Ltd. Pilot operation of 1MW hydrogen fuel cell power generation in Ulsan Oil-Fired & C.C Power Complex
Gangwon Province Supply and Development of fuel cells for hydrogen vessels
Provincial governments Manufacture and operation of hydrogen-electric buses (Changwon, Gwangju, Ulsan, Seoul, Busan, Seosan, Asan, etc.)
Korea Expressway Corporation Hydrogen charging stations in highway rest areas and large city centers
Doosan Fuel Cell Joint Demonstration of Distributed Fuel Cell Generation for microgrids


Partners Projects
Hydrogenius (Germany) Cooperation for liquid-organic hydrogen transport technology
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), Fortescue (Australia) Building an Innovative Hydrogen Infrastructure that stores and transports hydrogen in ammonia form
Air Liquide, Nel, Shell, Toyota International standardization of high-capacity hydrogen charging technology / Cooperation for the development of hydrogen charging parts
Saudi Aramco (Saudi Arabia) Strategic cooperation for the hydrogen energy distribution