Refueling the car with hydrogen at a hydrogen fuel station
​Professor David Blekhman will give his Fulbright inaugural lecture on Sustainability Day, November 8. How can hydrogen be the fuel of the future?  Please register on the link at the end of the interview. Photo: Literator/Shutterstock.

How can hydrogen be the fuel of the future?

"We are standing in the doorway of a transportation revolution with the advent of electrified and autonomous vehicles. This is speaking from the point of view of a Los Angeles resident where both air quality and congestion are major factors”. Professor David Blekhman is an expert in the field of hydrogen infrastructure and has been selected as a Fulbright Distinguished Chair of Alternative Energy Technology. On the Sustainability Day, November 8, he gives his inaugural lecture.​

David Blekhman“Like Greta, my older son is 16 years old. At this age, our kids are already old enough to tell us that we are not leaving them the world in a pristine condition. Rapid climate change, multiple sites of human operation, and rampant exploitation of the Earth’s resources are the drivers for finding solutions that are more humane. Hydrogen is one of the pathways we are exploring to address these challenges. Hydrogen has its positive properties as well as challenges. But it certainly is and will be the technology of interest,” says David Blekhman, ​professor at California State University Los Angeles and Technical Director of  Hydrogen Research and Fueling Facility, He will conduct research and teach at the Department of Mechanics and Maritime Sciences at Chalmers for one year. 

“It means a lot for Chalmers to have David here for one year, participating in education, research collaboration and outreach activities,” says Maria Grahn, associate professor, Director of Energy Area of Advance, and host for David Blekhman.

His research fits well into what many researchers already do at Chalmers. Maria Grahn especially highlights his broad network within academia, industry and other actors and appreciates David Blekhman´s natural ability to explain in a pedagogical way:

“He is a true inspiration for me and for the researchers he has met. I encourage everyone to register and join the inaugural lecture and take the opportunity to meet David”.

Fulbright Distinguished chair

Professor David Blekhman has been selected as a Fulbright Distinguished Chair of Alternative Energy Technology. He has expectations to establish new collaborations and research projects that he could continue in the future.

“Chalmers is a premier European institution with leading researchers in their field. My hope is that my contributions will expand projects already under development here at Chalmers. The university currently is the resource for contacts and my home base from which I am to travel to various hydrogen sites in Scandinavia. I look forward to hosting my colleagues at Chalmers back home at my institution in Los Angeles when visiting California”, says David Blekhman. 

He looks for projects that result in physical realization and real-world testing in the area of alternative fuels, advanced transportation and variety of topics in renewable energy. 

David Blekhman´s major focus area for the past ten years has been the construction and operation of the Cal State LA Hydrogen Research and Fueling Facility. 

“Due to the inherent complexity and being a new technical undertaking, hydrogen infrastructure still has a number of lessons to learn and challenges to overcome. In addition to hydrogen, I have worked in the area of fuel cell and hybrid vehicle development,” says David Blekhman. 

Hydrogen – part of a sustainable future

Several years ago, Los Angeles hosted a small conference on the Scandinavian Hydrogen Highway. Ever since David Blekhman wanted to see it for himself. 

“As a part of my project at Chalmers, I plan to visit and asses the performance of hydrogen stations in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and wherever else that highway leads. I also look forward to forging collaborations with local researchers and industry”.

The evolution of hydrogen as a fuel is a complex question with uncertain answers. 
“My general view and the hope for my work is that hydrogen and electricity will co-exist in powering our vehicles very similar to what is happening with gasoline and diesel. I also think that some applications will be better suited for hydrogen and some for electric,” says David Blekhman. 

Recently, energy storage has been adding another dimension to hydrogen as energy storage in intermittent renewable energy generation. David Blekhman thinks that this could be a part of building a circular and sustainable society.

Many applications for hydrogen

Twenty years ago, hydrogen was mainly targeting the light duty transportation, but the electric vehicles are now offering strong competition for short and medium transport. In response, hydrogen is evolving with heavier duty applications where additional range is associated with lighter than battery energy storage on board. Applications are currently developed in marine and heavy duty transport. 

“The large-scale of hydrogen operations is around the corner. Following the California leadership of the past twenty years, Japan, Korea, Germany and others have been rapidly developing their hydrogen infrastructure. Several stations also operate in Denmark and Norway. I am hoping that there will be several more in Sweden in a short time”.

The technology for producing hydrogen on a large scale from natural gas has been well established due to space exploration and other broad technologies. This will be a transitional pathway for some time allowing for the development of the hydrogen infrastructure. As renewable energy resources become more prevalent, electrolysis will be the source of hydrogen.

“Another scenario we are not talking about enough is the controlled nuclear fusion leading to a completely new world. That would also be based on hydrogen,” says David Blekhman.

David Blekhman will conduct research and teach at the Department of Mechanics and Maritime Sciences during the 2019/2020 semesters. David Blekhman gives a special mention to his host Dr. Maria Grahn and says that her professional network is amazingly broad and she has generously shared her contacts with him, and also to professor Sonia Yeh who a few years ago was a Fulbright chair at Chalmers.

“My experience at Chalmers is nothing short of amazing. People are warm and genuinely interested in my work and share interesting opportunities that I could engage in”, he concludes.

By: Ann-Christine Nordin and Anders Ryttarson Törneholm, ​

The lecture is a part of Chalmers Sustainable day
REGISTRATION (Masterclasses, workshops and Fulbright inaugural lecture) ​​

The program for the Inaugural lecture of the 2019-2020 Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Alternative Energy Technology:

​14:30-14:45 Opening, moderator Maria Grahn, Director of Energy Area of Advance

Welcome speech, Stefan Bengtsson, president and CEO

14:45-15:00 Sonia Yeh to speak about the Fulbright Distinguished Chair program and value it has had in her case, her research at Chalmers

15:00-16:00 David Blekhman, Inaugural Lecture, “If you build it, he will come” – Hydrogen Infrastructure

16:00-16:30 Bill Elrick, Director of California Fuel Cell Partnership to speak remotely on Hydrogen Developments in California perspective

16:30 Reception​​

Page manager Published: Mon 13 Dec 2021.