Major hydrogen fuel cell factory coming to suburban Chicago thumbnail

Major hydrogen fuel cell factory coming to suburban Chicago

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A New York-based company that develops hydrogen-powered commercial trucks is going to begin producing fuel cells near Chicago later this year.

Hyzon Motors said it will begin manufacturing in a 28,000-square-foot facility by year’s end and eventually hire about 50 people. The Bolingbrook, Ill., facility could produce enough fuel-cell membrane electrodes for up to 12,000 trucks a year and will be the largest plant of its kind in the U.S., the company said. Most of the production for hydrogen fuel-cell components is overseas, Hyzon said.

Hyzon, based near Rochester, N.Y., plans to go public through a SPAC, or special-purpose acquisition company, in the second quarter. 

Hydrogen-vehicle technology has been in development for decades. Such vehicles make their own electricity, which is an advantage over EVs, which rely on power produced at plants that also emit carbon to produce energy.

But hydrogen hasn’t been adopted nearly as widely as EVs. There are fewer than 10,000 hydrogen-powered passenger vehicles on the road in California. Toyota Motor Corp., a key player in this segment, launched hydrogen vehicles in the U.S. in 2015. Honda Motor Co. and Hyundai Motor Co. also are experimenting with hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles.

While Amazon has invested in hydrogen fuel-cell technology, it also is a major investor in EVs. It plans to buy 100,000 EVs from Rivian, which is going to begin making electric pickup trucks later this year at the former Mitsubishi assembly plant in Normal, Ill.