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Hydrogen mobility gains momentum in Middle East

Three questions to Omar Al-Futtaim

In October 2017, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Al-Futtaim Motors inaugurated the first hydrogen station of the Middle East designed in collaboration with Air Liquide. Testing hydrogen-powered vehicles in a hot climate is an important milestone for the development of clean mobility. Interview with Omar Al-Futtaim, CEO and Vice Chairman of the Al-Futtaim Group, on this promising initiative with major strategic and environmental stakes.

Can you tell us what motivated you to launch the first hydrogen station in the Middle East?

We are the exclusive Toyota retailer in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), one of the leaders in hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. As such, our company’s activities can positively impact the environmental issues in this region known for high vehicle ownership and fossil fuel consumption. Concerns about climate change, air quality and dependence on oil are a focus of the UAE Government. As hydrogen mobility continues to gain momentum, we also believe that hydrogen is one of the best solutions to reduce the carbon footprint. The advantage of hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) is that they generate zero carbon dioxide emissions while having a range of over 500 km and a quick recharging time.

Our company’s activities can positively impact the environmental issues in this region

Can you describe the project?

We launched this pilot project as a private initiative to study the logistics, scalability and feasibility and ultimately to demonstrate the potential of hydrogen use for clean transport in the UAE. To test the compatibility of hydrogen vehicles with the UAE's hot climate, we needed a hydrogen station. Air Liquide’s shared commitment and expertise made it the ideal partner for this project. Driving and refueling demonstrations have been organized for government officials and private sector companies to generate interest in this technology.

What do you aim to achieve with this project?  

Our ambition in the short term is to use this ground-breaking joint pilot program to illustrate that hydrogen technology is viable in the UAE, as well as to raise awareness about alternatives to fossil fuels. We strongly believe in hydrogen’s potential to pave the way for a new paradigm for a sustainable and low-carbon society.

A technology customized for high temperatures

In a region where temperatures can reach 50°C, each stage of the hydrogen compression process must be cooled to compensate for the resulting increase in heat. Usually, one air-to-air heat exchanger is sufficient, but in this case, Air Liquide redesigned the system with two water-to-air heat exchangers to limit the temperature increase.

We strongly believe in hydrogen’s potential to pave the way for a new paradigm for a sustainable and low-carbon society

Article published on January 30, 2018