After Toyota successfully launched Mirai fuel cell vehicle last year and Honda will also unveil Clarity hydrogen car later this year, fuel cell technology, which has been developed for a long time, has finally attracted people's attentions and ignited the momentums in the market again. Featured with renewable energy of zero carbon emission, it is expected that fuel cell technology will soon emerge in commercial market and drive new business opportunities.
Founded in 2012, YC Synergy started its business from powering all-electrical yachts applications. The company has proven its capability of developing fuel cell systems for transportation applications by delivering such systems for "Mu Yang" and "Star of Hope" green boats, which are now in full operation. With this foundation, YC Synergy is planning to further expand to various vehicle applications including sedans, buses, and trucks.
At the recently held Taiwan International Boat Show, Mark Huang, General Manager of YC Synergy, introduced the company's latest YCS-MB109 series products. It mainly targets at power applications with output power over 15KW. Compared with previous generation product, its volume and weight is reduced by 2x and 3x respectively at the same level of power grade. With the advantages of lightweight and compact design, it can be more easily integrated in a constrained space and achieve fast adoption.
Moreover, YCS-MB109, which is equipped with CAN 2.0B and complies with IP67 auto-grade interface, is specially designed for vehicle applications. Customers can use parallel structure to meet their power requirements and accelerate design cycle.
System Integrators are Key to Drive Commercial Applications
"The overall supply chain of fuel cell market involves key components such as Proton exchange membrane, bipolar plates, and Fuel cell stack, as well as the infrastructure for hydrogen dispensing," Huang said. "However, it is the system integrator that play the important role of bridging advanced technology and commercial applications to make it a reality."
Therefore, by working closely with international companies and integrating their key components, YC Synergy endeavors to develop system products to meet the requirements of end applications. "Our core technology is to provide complete power-train solutions including fuel cell, hydrogen tank, motors, batteries, and control system, and help our customers speed up their vehicle development to achieve the goal of optimize system performance and lifespan."
"The fuel cell system we developed must be able to satisfy real-world performance requirements, such as temperature, vibration, reliability, and operation life, as well as cost effectiveness. These are all the differentiating capabilities that system integrators should have."
"Though Taiwanese makers are not strong at foundation research of up-stream key materials, we do have advantages in the fields of machining, metal treatment, and electrical-mechanical integration. Therefore, we should really embrace the opportunities as fuel cell market emerges and focus on application development to create values."
Aiming to become the world's largest fuel cell system integrator, YC Synergy is teaming up with local and foreign companies to development various solutions. In particular, it will work as a test platform for the key components makers of fuel cell in Taiwan, in an effort to explore more business opportunities together.
Eyeing Vehicle Market to Build Mass Production Capability
According to Huang, in line with the trend of non-nuclear and clean energy development, fuel cell technology will surely gain a significant foothold in the new energy market. "As Taiwan has very limited natural resources, the hydrogen society blueprint that Japanese government is actively working on could serve as a very good example for us," said he.
However, mass production is still a barrier to break for fuel cell technology to move to large-scale commercial applications. For Toyota's Mirai hydrogen car, though creating a hype in the market, its annual capacity is only 3000 units, far less than that of other mainstream cars. Huang is optimistic about this, saying, "The maturity of fuel cell application depends on the availability of hydrogen dispensing station and related infrastructures. I believe that the mass production capability will accelerate after the overall environment is ready."
From YC Synergy's point of view, China's 13th five year plan holds a great opportunity because its goal is to have 30 million units of new energy vehicles made in China by 2020, and fuel cell technology is included in the project. "We already begin to talk with bus and truck makers in China and achieve very good results so far. It is hoped that we could complete prototype development later this year, and start pilot production by end of next year."
"China is in an urgent need to reduce carbon emission. Therefore, they are accelerating the pace of moving new energy car into mass production. But for fuel cell system integrators, we used to focus on custom design, so mass production will be another challenge for us."
"We are now trying to define the mass production lines for fuel cell systems, which is totally new for us and requires more explorations. But I am confident that the challenge will be overcome as the market and technology get more matured. We plan to complete the deployment of mass production line by end of next year, so that we can address the market demands in the future."
Eyeing the promising potentials, YC Synergy will hire more staff and raise funds from capital market to further expand its business operations.