Maturing value chains in North America – takeaways from Hydrogen Technology Expo NA

Jul 10, 2024

Impact Coatings and Regional President North America, Dr. Robert Mamazza recently visited the Hydrogen Technology Conference & Expo in Houston, Texas. This yearly expo brings together the entire hydrogen value chain to focus on developing solutions and innovations for low-carbon hydrogen production, efficient storage and distribution as well as a variety of stationary and mobile applications.

On June 26th and 27th, more than 200+ exhibitors, 110+ speakers and over 3,500+ attendees came together to discuss, and view, the latest technologies and engineering solutions, advanced materials, manufacturing equipment, infrastructure, as well as test and evaluation tools for the hydrogen industry in Houston Texas, USA. We saw a complete hydrogen eco system on display.

At the brink of commercialization

The main conclusion after the event is that interest in PVD in the hydrogen industry is at an all-time high, and the value chain in North America is now maturing. We appear to be driving towards commercialization of various technologies in multiple links of the hydrogen supply chain. Electrolysis is still leading the way in North America, with Fuel Cells as a good runner-up, and 2025 is fully expected to be the year when things “turn on”.

PVD coatings in general draw a lot of attention as a promising clean, economical, and scalable production solution suitable for industrial manufacturing. With the hydrogen industry entering the commercialization stages, our complete coating service and equipment solutions are viewed as an exceptionally good market fit with great scalability – meaning we can deliver to match volume needs today, as well as future volume needs.

With many different players in the hydrogen value chain represented at the expo, the Impact Coatings’ team had diverse conversations with different sub-contractors, all looking for efficient solutions to be part of the production line of their components.

CTO, Dr. Kristian Hillgren, Business Development Partner, Phil Pruna, and Regional President North America, Dr. Robert Mamazza at Hydrogen Technology Expo in Houston 2024.

Expertise, partnerships, and scalability – the three most sought-after value adds

What is clear is that strategic partnerships and available expertise close at hand will be instrumental for most companies in need of coatings for their components. Most sub-contractors are very familiar with their own production and component specifications but have limited previous coating experience and lack in-depth coating expertise. This is where our expert teams in our Coating Service Centers support customers in accelerating time to market by offering technology verification and production start-up without the need for capital equipment investment.  We can do all this as a service.

Understanding commercial capabilities is another important key topic from industry players in North America at this stage. Equipment investments are being evaluated for current volumes as well as future volume scenarios.

In these discussions, we have a big advantage as we are already delivering commercial volumes to North America. We know first-hand how our machines work in volume production as we operate our own coating systems in our coating service facilities.

Utilizing an Impact Coatings’ efficient INLINECOATER™ system with a compact factory footprint is a great value add for our production solution. Thanks to high throughput and small batches, the INLINECOATER™ offers remarkably good quality control with very low scrap rates. With the INLINECOATER™ systems’ automation-ready interface, it is easy to scale productivity from one to several coating systems in a growing production line. This adds the benefits of optimal cost control while scaling production volumes and offers redundancy for unexpected as well as planned equipment downtime on the factory floor.

Buzz from the industry, and further scale up implications in North America

Being ready for scale-up, with proven coating equipment and coating technology, is key as the hydrogen industry now moves away from focus on technology verification, and advances on production of commercial volumes. The buzz around the venue about the U.S. joint office of Energy and Transportation opening applications for $1.3 billion in funding for electrical vehicle charging and alternative fueling infrastructure is just one of many signs in this direction. Infrastructure has been one of the missing pieces to advance fuel cell applications and fuel cell electric vehicles in North America.

Likewise, prominent news from Canada worth highlighting is the announcement from Walmart, the number one retail chain in North America, that has rolled out their first hydrogen fueled truck with an impressive range of over 800 km. Another testament to that heavy-duty fuel cell applications are taking strides in catching up with electrolysis.

This means, most likely interest in heavy-duty fuel cell applications will increase from here out in North America. For Impact Coatings, the timing is perfect, since we released our Premium FC coating late last year, already in production in our Coating Service Center in China and Sweden.

Our next step will be to offer Coating Services on U.S. soil. If you have any questions about Impact Coatings, PVD, or our coatings solutions for electrolyzer and fuel cells, don’t hesitate to reach out to Dr. Robert Mamazza, Regional President, North America.

Torbjörn Joelsson

Dr. Robert Mamazza Regional President, North America