Bazan Group embarks on $3.7 million project to advance hydrogen-fueled vehicles

Oil and petroleum-derived products group seeks to build country’s first hydrogen refilling station, together with Sonol

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

A hydrogen-fueled truck on the road. (audioundwerbung, at iStock by Getty Images)
A hydrogen-fueled truck on the road. (audioundwerbung, at iStock by Getty Images)

The Bazan Group, whose fossil fuel-based companies are among the most polluting in Israel, announced Monday that it is to embark on a NIS 12 million ($3.7 million) pilot project to produce, compress and transport hydrogen in accordance with the standards needed for the introduction of green, hydrogen-fueled vehicles into Israel.

Its first target will be to create the first hydrogen refueling station in the country, in cooperation with the Sonol company.

Around the world, the promise of hydrogen power, harvested by separating and reuniting the elements that make up water, is sparking the next revolution in clean energy.

The technology is still in its infancy, but both the government and the private sector are pumping money into developing ways to make hydrogen more powerful, efficient and cost-effective.

A hydrogen filling station, Hunzenschwil, Switzerland, October 10 2020. (Lucia Gajdosikova, iStock at Getty Images)

Bazan’s proposal was accepted by the Energy Ministry’s chief scientist and its Alternative Fuels and Smart Transportation Administration, which seeks to encourage innovation in the energy economy.

The ministry will be contributing NIS 1.3 million ($405,000) of the NIS 12 million.

According to a company statement, Bazan Group is already the biggest producer of hydrogen in Israel, with the ability to create up to eight tons per hour.

“The main obstacle in the Israeli economy that the project will address is the ability to produce hydrogen in the quantity and quality required, to compress it and thereby to enable it to be transported to gas stations safely,” the statement said, adding that it will also establish the first authorized laboratory in Israel for the required analysis of hydrogen for transport.

The simplest way to transport hydrogen is to compress it into tanks.

Bazan has already invested in H2PRO, an Israeli company set up to commercialize a hydrogen breakthrough developed by researchers at the Grand Technion Energy Program at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in the northern city of Haifa. Other investors in the company include the South Korean car manufacturer Hyundai and the huge Japanese business group Sumitomo.

From right: Dr. Hen Dotan, Prof. Avner Rothschild, Dr. Avigail Grader and Prof Gideon Grader of the Technion (Courtesy the Technion)

H2PRO says its technology enables the separation of hydrogen from oxygen — a key stage in the use of hydrogen to produce energy — in a cheaper, safer and more efficient way than market rivals.

Earlier this year, Bazan Group reported that it was setting up an innovation platform called Bnnovation.

View of the former cooling towers at the Bazan Group oil refinery complex on June 12, 2020, hours after one of them collapsed. (Meir Vaknin/Flash90)

Bazan Group’s factories include the Haifa Bay oil refineries in the north, ranked 8th by the Environmental Protection Ministry in a report published in September for the indirect costs (for example to the environment and public health) of its pollution.

Other Bazan companies produce petroleum-related products such as plastic.

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