Air Liquide to Open Hydrogen Plant in U.S.

France’s Air Liquide SA plans to invest more than $150 million to build a liquid hydrogen plant in California to support hydrogen fueling stations in the state.

Construction will begin in early 2019. The facility will have the capacity to generate nearly 30 tons of hydrogen per day, which Air Liquide says is enough to accommodate 35,000 fuel cell vehicles.

To support the plant, Air Liquide has signed a long-term agreement to supply liquid hydrogen to FirstElement Fuel Inc.’s (FEF) hydrogen fueling stations in California. Air Liquide also plans to make an unspecified equity investment in FEF.

Air Liquide and FEF have separate partnerships with Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. Toyota, Honda and Hyundai Motor Co. are the only carmakers currently selling production fuel cell vehicles.

Air Liquide, which can produce, store and distribute hydrogen, expects as many as 40,000 fuel cell vehicles to be on the road in California by 2022. The company has designed and installed more than 120 stations worldwide.

Formed in 2013, California-based FEF claims to operate the largest retail hydrogen station network in the world. The company says it has refueled more than 230,000 vehicles since opening its first True Zero station in early 2016.