Steelmakers POSCO and Hyundai Steel are locking horns over the hydrogen economy. The two companies are clashing in the business of metal separators for hydrogen fuel cells as demand for hydrogen electric vehicles is expected to increase considerably in the future.
Metal separators for hydrogen fuel cells are one of the core materials of a stack, which can be called the engine of a hydrogen electric car that combines hydrogen and oxygen to produce electric power. In particular, metal separators have a high added value as they account for 60 percent of stack prices.
POSCO, which has been pushing for the development of materials for metal separators since 2006, has been developing parts in cooperation with Hyundai Motor since 2010. Since 2018, POSCO has applied “Poss470FC” steel to the Hyundai Motor’s mass-produced hydrogen vehicle model. POSCO developed the world's first high-strength stainless steel, Poss470FC, and succeeded in commercializing it for the first time in the world. "By developing Poss470FC, we could reduce costs and simplify the anufacturing processes for core materials of hydrogen electric vehicles," a POSCO official said.
Hyundai Steel is also expanding the metal separator business. Hyundai Steel's plant in Dangjin, Korea has been investing in production of metal separators. Its production line will be put into operation sequentially beginning this April.
The plant will build a system capable of producing 16,000 metal separators a year by 2020. In addition, in line with the Hyundai Motor Group's roadmap to produce about 500,000 hydrogen electric cars in 2030, the company is considering expanding its production capacity for metal separators after 2020. Hyundai Steel currently has facilities capable of producing about 3,000 tons of hydrogen per year.