British start-up INEOS and Korean car maker Hyundai work together to drive hydrogen economy

Hyundai and INEOS have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to work together in developing a so-called hydrogen economy. The former company's world-leading expertise in the field of fuel cell development and the latter's background as a chemical manufacturer could result in a zero emissions version of the new INEOS Grenadier 4X4.

The INEOS Grenadier is conspicuous in the fact that there has been no inkling that the brand new Defender-a-like 4x4 will get anything in the way of electrification. This MOU potentially changes that, though before we get to the potential for a zero emissions Grenadier, it's worth noting that the partnership has bigger goals.

At its core Hyundai and INEOS will “investigate opportunities for the production and supply of hydrogen as well as the worldwide deployment of hydrogen applications and technologies”. The so-called hydrogen economy is something that Hyundai has been pursuing for around two decades now – and it's fair to say that it hasn't exactly gained huge traction.

Through joining forces with INEOS, Hyundai wants to develop a hydrogen value chain across Europe. It actually makes a lot of sense as INEOS is a huge manufacturer of chemicals – a by-product of which is 300,000 tons hydrogen. Its subsidiary, INOVYN is also Europe's largest operator of electrolysis – the most common way of producing hydrogen for use in industrial processes, power generation, and potentially transport.

Looking towards 2030, when petrol and diesel vehicles will no longer be sold new in this country, leveraging INEOS's ready supply of H2 and Hyundai's 20 plus years' experience makes a lot of sense for both companies.

When it comes to the INEOS Grenadier, which hasn't even hit the road yet, its aforementioned lack of electrification (it exclusively uses a BMW diesel) combined with the 2030 deadline means that the start-up car maker needs to look at its options. As part of the deal with Hyundai, the Korean brand's proprietary fuel cell powertrain will be evaluated in the Grenadier.

The powertrain itself has already proven itself to be very reliable and usable in everyday driving in the Hyundai NEXO FCEV. And in fact, if you have £60k knocking about and access to a hydrogen filling station (there are very few public ones in the UK), the NEXO is one of just three FCEVs that you could actually buy from a dealer.

Peter Williams, Tech Director at INEOS, said: “Evaluating new production processes, technology and applications, combined with our existing capabilities puts us in a unique position to meet emerging demand for affordable, low-carbon energy sources and the needs of demanding 4x4 owners in the future.”

Discover EV's take

Hydrogen has numerous flaws as a viable fuel for private vehicles, not least of which is the energy required to produce it. However, it clearly does have a future as a power source and when viewed in the context of 300,000 tons of the stuff being produced as a matter of course by INEOS, harnessing that makes a lot of sense. The combined strength of INEOS and Hyundai may also produce more tangible results than smaller partnerships of the past – but time will tell.

You can learn more about all things hydrogen in our extensive feature.


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