Nov. 26 (UPI) -- France-based Air Liquide, a 65,000-employee company that sells gases to industrial and medical customers worldwide, will build with $150 million the "first world scale liquid hydrogen" plant in the United States to help efforts to replace gasoline with a cleaner fuel.
The plant to be built "in the western U.S." will have enough capacity to power "35,000 fuel cell electric vehicles" and construction will begin in early 2019, the company said.
Air Liquide also signed an agreement with FirstElement Fuel, which specializes in retail hydrogen infrastructure in the United States, to supply hydrogen to its liquid hydrogen fueling stations in California. It will eventually power 40,000 fuel cell vehicles "expected to be deployed" in the state by 2022.
This will "accelerate the deployment of new hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles -- cars, trucks, buses -- planned by automotive manufacturers like Toyota, Honda," said Michael Graff, CEO of American Air Liquide Holdings. Air Liquide has 20,000 employees in the United States.
The company also signed an accord with FirstElement Fuel to show its intention to buy into its equity "following previous assistance to the company by Toyota and Honda."
"Used in a fuel cell, hydrogen combines with oxygen in the air to produce electricity, emitting only water. It does not generate any pollution at the point of use: zero greenhouse gases, zero particles and zero noise," the company said.
According to a report, California has 33 liquid hydrogen stations that power 4,200 vehicles. The state by far leads the country in the use of liquid hydrogen-powered vehicles.
In Europe, there are 77 hydrogen stations for vehicles in operation, with another 47 in construction. Of the ones in operation, 51 are in Germany -- where a hundred new stations will open by next year.
Shell has said that it is in partnership with Air Liquide and other fuel and car manufacturer companies to build 400 hydrogen stations just in Germany by 2023.
In China, eight hydrogen stations are to be completed by the end of this year. Construction started in August.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, vehicles that run on hydrogen fuel cells emit no tailpipe greenhouse gases, "only heat and water." There can, however, be some greenhouse gas emissions "depending on the production method" of the hydrogen, but still much less than conventional gasoline and diesel.