For several weeks, Didier Arénal, CEO of EHM (Efficient Hydrogen Motors), increased the presence of the company specializing in hydrogen at trade fairs such as HyVolution, held in May in Paris.
The Brest startup, founded at the beginning of the year, has had a series of meetings with investors, green hydrogen suppliers and potential customers, in particular transportation groups, to promote its innovation intended for heavy mobility.
Following a retrofit model (the fact of replacing the internal combustion engine, gasoline or diesel with a battery-powered or hydrogen-powered electric motor) of a new type. Concrete, it develops a hydrogen engine to replace the heat engines of vehicles (trucks, coaches, boats) that are more than five years old.
The project makes sense in a region that heavily uses heavy transportation to deliver its agricultural and agri-food products. But also amid a sharp rise in prices with inflation reaching a record in France for 37 years, at +5.2% in May, mainly due to rising fuel prices.
The Regional Council is also an active supporter of EHM, concluding a fundraiser of up to one million euros.
The company has already made great progress in industry partnerships, with solution providers and mechanics for the installation of machines, as well as in the collection of the whole. He still has the last third to seek from private investors.
20,000 m2 factory in Chateaulin
” This machine does not emit CO2, only water vapor, it meets the Euro 7 Standard that will take effect in 2025 and its efficiency is higher than that of a heat engine ”said Didier Arénal, head of EHM and former director of mechanical company ST Industries in Guipavas.
” EHM also replaces tanks and accessories to convert them to hydrogen. To fuel our engines, we will sign agreements with green hydrogen distribution networks that will support our development. Distribution is important in our model because there is no network of hydrogen pumps yet “.
Mobilizing a team of twenty people (doctors, researchers, engineers), the start-up was done inside the Enstartups incubator in Brest in collaboration with the Estaca engineering school and the University of South Brittany (UBS) on R&D.
EHM is planning another 18 months of R&D, with vehicle tests in 2023, prior to engine certification in 2024 and marketing in 2025.
This deadline coincides with the construction of a 20,000 m2 production plant in Chateaulin, which aims to create 150 to 200 jobs in the operational phase.
During the intermediate phase, the ramp-up will be carried out with an industrialist from Finistère.
Long distance and circular economy
Although coach trucks and fleets are EHM’s priority market, its solution is also attracting interest from the nautical and aeronautical sectors.
” Converting the engines of a fleet of vehicles represents an investment for a carrier, but compared to a fleet equipped with electricity, the cost is two to three times cheaper. And because of the cost of diesel, massive hydrogen is almost the same price by Didier Arenal.
As part of the scheduled termination of diesel or gasoline engines, the leader also pointed out that electric will have its share but does not allow driving over long distances.
” Hydrogen has the advantage of offering a range of between 400 and 800 kilometers assesses the 56-year-old manager, whose goal is to succeed in installing the industrial model before he retires.
” Our project contributes to the circular economy, without waste. Its local manufacture, extending the lifespan of vehicles and the absence of CO2 emissions also meet environmental challenges. »
A Breton ecosystem moving forward together
While the major regions are moving and competing around green hydrogen, Brittany is also playing its card.
Its sector has more than twenty -five projects underway, mainly in Vannes (Chantier naval Bretagne Sud), Redon (H2XEcosystems) or Quimper (Entech) and has developed various technical solutions for land use and sea.
If one of the main ambitions of the region has to do with the construction of ships using hydrogen technology, this industry sector is also thriving within local hydrogen loops.
” In the H2 sector, there is no dominant solution. The ecosystem is moving forward together to get global solutions »Welcomes Didier Arénal.