South Korean oil refiner Hyundai Oilbank Company has announced plans to build a plant to produce separators and other components for hydrogen fuel-cell stacks, as it continues to diversify into new growth segments of the energy market.

Hydrogen fuel cell stacks are used to generate electricity to power fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) and will be used for other applications in the future, such as ships and buildings. They comprise hundreds of individual fuel-cells which need to be separated from each other using special materials. Separators are also used to supply hydrogen to anodes and oxygen to cathodes in the fuel-cell stack.

Hyundai Oilbank, controlled by shipbuilding giant Hyundai Heavy Industries Holdings, said it plans to complete construction of the fuel-cell separator plant in the second half of this year in Seosan, some 120km south of the capital city Seoul, with testing expected to start before year-end.

It plans to work with Hyundai Motor to develop fuel-cell separators for the automaker’s fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), with commercial production scheduled for 2023. The company is targeting annual revenues of KRW500bn (US$428m) from the hydrogen fuel-cell sector by 2030.

FCEVs are expected to compete with battery-powered EVs as one of the main zero-emission transportation solutions of the future.

Hyundai Oilbank is currently building a high-purity hydrogen refining facility in the country to power FCEVs with a capacity to produce 3,000 kilograms of hydrogen a day. It also plans to build a network of 180 hydrogen refueling stations across the country by 2030.

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