THP-E72: Automotive CEO’s Weigh In On The Future Of Hydrogen Cars And Monolith Has Made A Deal That Will Be Great For The Environment

December 13, 2021 • Paul Rodden • Season: 2021 • Episode: 72

Welcome to The Hydrogen Podcast!

In episode 072, Elon Musk gets called out on his hydrogen stance again. And Monolith is back in the news making a big deal with Goodyear. All of this on today’s hydrogen podcast.

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Elon Musk gets called out on his hydrogen stance again. And Monolith is back in the news making a big deal with Goodyear. All of this on today’s hydrogen podcast.

So the big questions in the energy industry today are, how is hydrogen the primary driving force behind the evolution of energy? Where is capital being deployed for hydrogen projects globally? And where are the best investment opportunities for early adopters who recognize the importance of hydrogen? I will address the critical issues and give you the information you need to deploy capital. Those are the questions that will unlock the potential of hydrogen, and this podcast will give you the answers. My name is Paul Rodden, and welcome to the hydrogen podcast.

In an article from CNBC, Anwar Frankel writes, Elon Musk has strong views on hydrogen but not everyone agrees. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has a history of expressing strong opinions about hydrogen and hydrogen fuel cells. A few years ago when the subject came up during a discussion with reporters at the Automotive News World Congress, the billionaire and electric vehicle magnate described hydrogen fuel cells as extremely silly. It’s just very difficult to make hydrogen and store it and use it in a car my said the best case hydrogen fuel cell doesn’t win against the current case batteries. So then obviously, it doesn’t make sense.

He added later, he continues that it will become apparent in the next few years that there’s no reason for us to have this debate. I’ve said my piece on this, it will be super obvious as time goes by. I don’t know what more to say. In the time since those remarks, Musk’s views don’t seem to have changed much if at all. In June 2020. He tweeted that fuel cells equal fool cells. And in July of that year that hydrogen fool cells make no sense. Musk was not immediately available to comment on whether his views on hydrogen had changed when contacted via Tesla by CNBC on Monday. The article continues that Musk is not alone when it comes to being unconvinced about the use of hydrogen and cars. In February of this year, Herbert Diess, the CEO of German automotive powerhouse Volkswagen Group weighed on on the subject. It’s time for politicians to accept science he tweeted, green hydrogen is needed for steel, chemical and aero and should not end up in cars. It’s far too expensive, he says and efficient, slow and difficult to roll out for transport. After all, no #hydrogen cars in sight.

Musk and Diess are two high profile figures at the helm of major companies with huge influence and reach what they say carries weight. It would appear however, that their views aren’t shared by everyone in the auto sector. To date firms including Toyota and Hyundai have produced hydrogen fuel cells, while smaller manufacturers such as Riversimple are also working on hydrogen powered cars. And in June, the BMW Group said it had started to test vehicles that use a hydrogen fuel cell drive train, with the company describing hydrogen fuel cell tech as having quote, long term potential to supplement internal combustion engines, plug in hybrid systems and battery electric vehicles. Although these products obviously don’t account for the bulk of car sales at the moment in time, Riversimple won’t actually sell its cars offering them on a subscription service instead, that such a range of companies are working on fuel cell offerings at all shows some see potential in the technology. fuel cell cars will certainly play a part in decarbonizing transport this according to a spokesperson for Toyota.

As in when refueling infrastructure expands, they will offer a convenient alternative form of electrified transport over a fully electrified battery electric vehicle. Toyota viewed hydrogen as quote an alternative to hydrocarbons and all manner of settings including heating lighting, haulage, mass transit and heavy industry. The spokesperson continued by saying the range of hydrogen applications will increase, enabling cheaper, more efficient power supply and will increasingly see hydrogen powering cars, buses, trains and trucks. Then, in a statement sent to CNBC, the fuel cell and hydrogen Energy Association expressed a similar viewpoint, fuel cell electric vehicles and hydrogen energy the FCHEA said offered customers quote, a zero emission option with performance they expect and no change in daily routines, long range, quick refueling and the ability to scale to larger platforms without adding restrictive weight and size. The association also went on to say that there was a quote tremendous opportunity for fuel cell electric cars and fuel cell powered material handling vehicles. They continued by saying also given the limitations of battery weight and recharging for long haul trucking.

A significant opportunity also exists for medium and heavy duty delivery trucks, vans, buses, trains and planes. Indeed, as governments around the world attempt to develop low emission transportation systems, the notion of using hydrogen fuel cells in larger vehicles is starting to be explored by a broad range of companies. In a recent interview with CNBC, the CEO of Daimler truck was asked about the debate between battery electric and hydrogen fuel cells. Balance he said was key, he continued that, quote, we go for both because both makes sense going on to explain how different technologies will be appropriate in different scenarios. In general, he continues, you can say, if you go to a city delivery where you need the lower amounts of energy in there, you can charge overnight in a depot. And then it’s certainly battery electric. But the moment you’re on the road, the moment you go from Stockholm to Barcelona, in his opinion, you need something which you can transport better, and where you can refuel better, and that’s ultimately hydrogen.

The ruling is not out. But I think it’s too risky for a company our size to go with just one technology. His comments on fuel cells touch upon the idea that they could eventually find a home and heavier forms of transport, covering long distances, hauling cargo and in some cases, ferrying people from one destination to another, he’s not alone in taking this view. The European transport giant Alstom, for instance, has developed the Coradia iLint, which it’s described as the quote world’s first passenger train, powered by hydrogen fuel cell and aviation plans to operate commercial hydrogen electric flights between London and Rotterdam were announced in October, with those behind the project hoping it will take to the skies in 2024. And construction, JCB, which we’ve talked about earlier in the podcast, which is a major player in the sector said last year that it had developed an excavator, which is quote, powered by hydrogen fuel cell. Weighing 20 metric tons. The company said the vehicle had been tested for over 12 months, adding that the only emission from the exhaust is water. But challenges do still remain.

Well, there’s a sense of excitement about the use of hydrogen fuel cell technology in a variety of applications, the path to any mass rollout may not necessarily be a smooth one. Earlier this year, Honda ceased production, its clarity plug in hybrid and fuel cell models. Although the company did make a point of saying that fuel cell electric vehicles would quote, play a key role in our zero emission strategy. Elsewhere, the US government has set it a number of challenges. These range from the durability and reliability of fuel cells to vehicle cost. The current infrastructure for producing and getting hydrogen to consumers cannot yet support the wide range adaptation of fuel cell electric vehicles. Okay, so really a very good report from CNBC, on the current state of fuel cell electric vehicles, and what some of the larger players in the business are saying about them. Now personally, I don’t believe that Elon Musk is going to be changing his stance on hydrogen fuel cells anytime soon. And if I had the same kind of capital backing battery electric vehicles, I would probably be saying the same thing.

But as infrastructure in the US and worldwide build out, and the limitations of developing lithium batteries continues to build, hydrogen fuel cells begin to make more and more sense, especially when it comes to highway heavy transport. Batteries just aren’t a good solution for that system. And lastly, in a press release from monolith, they’re going to collaborate with Goodyear on carbon black first tire production through methane pyrolysis. Monolith, which is the class leader in carbon black production, signed a collaboration agreement and letter of intent with Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, one of the world’s largest tire companies, as part of the agreements Monolith expects to collaborate with Goodyear on the development and potential use of clean carbon black produce at its expanding Olive creek facility in Hallam Nebraska. Monolith’s carbon black enables manufacturers such as Goodyear to meet sustainability goals and demands for clean materials, monolith expects to begin construction on its expanded olive Creek facility in 2022. With the completion schedule for 2025 Once complete, monolith olive Creek facility will produce 194,000 tons of cleanly made carbon black annually, along with 275,000 tons of clean ammonia.

When fully commissioned, the facility will be the largest manufacturer of carbon black in the US, and the first built in the country in more than 50 years. Now, Carbon Black is an essential material found in countless everyday products, but perhaps most notably in tires. Conventional Carbon Black is produced by burning decant oil or cold tar, releasing large amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Monolith through its proprietary pyrolysis process has developed and perfected a new technology that uses renewable electricity to convert natural gas into high purity carbon black and hydrogen. This clean environmentally responsible process creates nearly zero local emissions, and significantly reduced lifecycle emissions overall.

Through Monoliths methane pyrolysis technology, the company is able to prevent an estimated 2.3 tonnes of co2 from being released for every tonne of carbon black produced compared to the traditional manufacturing processes. Monoliths expanded facility is projected to save nearly 1 million tons of co2 from entering the atmosphere compared to traditional carbon black, hydrogen and ammonia manufacturing. monoliths Olive Creek one commercial scale facility is the first of its kind and the first carbon black production facility to be constructed in the United States since the 1970s. Monolith was founded in 2012. first began producing carbon black and a commercial scale in 2021. Along with carbon black and clean hydrogen, the company announced in late 2020, its plants produce clean ammonia as a second phase production facility in Nebraska. So huge news for monolith. And I’ve made it no secret how much I really enjoy the technology of turquoise hydrogen. And what really attracts me to this technology.

And this hydrogen production methodology is the carbon black byproduct and the potential that can be made from solid carbon. But Carbon Black isn’t the only reason why I really like methane pyrolysis. It’s also the ability to leverage our current natural gas infrastructure to create exceptionally clean energy and a byproduct of carbon black that also has a market. So great news for monolith. And I’m very excited to see how their expansion goes in the near future.

Alright, that’s it for me everyone. If you have any questions, comments or concerns about today’s episode, come and visit me on my website at Or you can always email me at I would really love to hear from you. And as always, take care. Stay safe. I’ll talk to you later.

Hey, this is Paul. I hope you liked this podcast. If you did and want to hear more, I’d appreciate it if you would either subscribe to this channel on YouTube, or connect with your favorite platform through my website at Thanks for listening. I very much appreciate it. Have a great day.