EXECUTIVE INTERVIEW: Chart Industries Makes the Move to Hydrogen

July 7, 2021

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Jill Evanko, president and CEO of Chart Industries, will be one of the innovative speakers gracing the ACT Expo stage in the early fall, discussing her company’s role in the quickly developing fuel cell sector during the session Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle Executive Roundtable.

Evanko was promoted to her current role in June 2018, after joining Chart in February of 2017 as chief financial officer. Prior to joining Chart, she was the chief financial officer of Truck-Lite, held multiple operational and financial executive positions at Dover Corporation and its subsidiaries, as well as positions at Honeywell and Sony.

In addition to serving on Chart’s board of directors, Evanko serves as an independent director of the board of Parker Hannifin, as well as a director on the board of McPhy. Evanko has been recognized for her accomplishments a number of times, including being awarded the 2020 ExxonMobil Power Play Rainmaker award, the 2020 S&P Global Platts Energy Award for Chief Trailblazer, and the World LNG Executive of the Year 2020. Evanko also serves on the nonprofit board of directors of the National Association of Manufacturers and the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum.

ACT News recently sat down with Evanko to discuss some of the topics that will be highlighted during the upcoming ACT Expo 2021 session.

ACT News: How does Chart’s experience with cryogenics translate into the production and distribution of hydrogen fuel?

Jill Evanko: At Chart, we are proud to be a global leader of cryogenic engineering and manufacturing, both from a process technology as well as an equipment manufacturer. We focus on the clean energy and industrial gas end markets. The “cool” thing about what we do is that cryogenics serves multiple molecules, meaning that we can handle anything from CO2 to hydrogen to oxygen to LNG to name a few. With more than 56 years of building hydrogen equipment and our extensive hydrogen liquefaction experience, we sit in the middle of the hydrogen value chain. We provide technology and equipment to those who are producing hydrogen, whether onsite or off-site, we provide hydrogen transports, liquid hydrogen storage tanks and heat exchangers for the liquefaction of H2. Sitting in the middle of the value chain means that we also provide equipment to the end users of hydrogen — fueling stations, vehicles, etc.

“Sitting in the middle of the value chain means that we also provide equipment to the end users of hydrogen — fueling stations, vehicles, etc.”

ACT News: What is Chart doing to increase knowledge on hydrogen as a vehicle fuel?

Jill Evanko: In addition to introducing our liquid hydrogen onboard vehicle tank to the market commercially next month at ACT Expo, we are working closely with our partners to continue to develop cost effective heavy-duty transportation options utilizing liquid hydrogen. Additionally, we invite all of our customers to come to our state-of-the-art hydrogen test facility in Minnesota (USA) to safely test and optimize new applications for hydrogen as a vehicle fuel.

ACT News: What, if any, vehicle manufacturers/component suppliers is Chart working with to promote hydrogen as the next clean tech fuel? If none, do you have any plans to do so?

Jill Evanko: We are under mutual confidentiality agreements with customers and potential customers in this area, but I can say that we are working with multiple potential heavy-duty customers. Our experience in LNG over the road vehicle tanks gives us unique experience and positioning with these customers that are looking at H2 onboard.

ACT News: What is a feasible timeline for increased hydrogen fuel cell vehicle adoption?

Jill Evanko: I have always stated that the application for hydrogen has to make sense. For liquid hydrogen in particular, it is our opinion that it makes sense for heavy-duty trucks and larger modes of transportation. Versus passenger FCEVs, which would use gaseous hydrogen, electric, or other alternatives. One year ago, everyone was talking about an increase in the adoption by 2025, in line with when commercialization would occur from a production standpoint. Today, nearly all vehicle or truck manufacturers are talking about significantly increased adoption within the next 12-18 months, and many are planning to introduce new hydrogen vehicles to the market in the second half of 2021.

ACT News: What types of transportation sectors will benefit most from switching to hydrogen? Why?

Jill Evanko: Being pragmatic about what applications make sense to switch to hydrogen is very important. Heavy duty trucking and heavier applications make a lot of sense to switch to liquid hydrogen because of the density, handling, and distance (payload) that LH2 offers.

ACT News: Currently there are less than 50 hydrogen fueling stations in the country. Where do we need to be in terms of infrastructure to see a more widespread adoption of this type of vehicle technology?

Jill Evanko: Fueling stations need to be able to handle a variety of molecules, not just H2. The answer over the course of time will be a hybrid one – between diesel, hydrogen, electric, LNG/CNG – so those who are thinking of how to do this will be advantaged as the decades unfold. In terms of hydrogen stations themselves, the numbers will be determined by the distances that the vehicles can go, but a network of these stations has to go from coast to coast for this to be an effective answer. Right now in the U.S. most stations are centralized regionally (i.e. California). This needs to go beyond where the credit systems are located.

“Fueling stations need to be able to handle a variety of molecules, not just H2, as the answer over the course of time will be a hybrid one.”

ACT News: What are your hopes for the clean transportation and energy industry?

Jill Evanko: I hope the industry continues to innovate and collaborate as we have seen over the past year. Additionally, I would like the industry to realize that there is not a one size fits all solution for transportation or power. This will cause companies to focus efforts on the practical applications, addressing the cost and scale challenges that face hydrogen today.

ACT News: How has your past experience in the heavy-duty vehicle space influenced your role at Chart and the direction that the company is heading in terms of hydrogen fueling?

Jill Evanko: Our experience in the heavy-duty vehicle space has allowed us to know what requirements are needed as we look at hydrogen fueling. We are looking at the entire infrastructure, not just the vehicles, but the types of pumps and stations needed to support those vehicles. We also have extensive safety experience, combined with our work with governments around certifications for the product, which should help advance hydrogen fueling applications.

ACT News: From the aspect of personal development and teamwork, what are your thoughts and practices related to mentoring?

Jill Evanko: Everyone should think of themselves as a mentor, as well as someone who can learn something from a mentor, no matter what stage of career or life a person is in. I don’t think picking one mentor gets a person as much experience as choosing many others as mentors. My mentors range from seven years old to 80-plus years old. Different perspectives give you a diversity of views and I firmly believe this makes you a better person. I also think as leaders, it is important that we create the space to have conversations, create new ideas and bring different thoughts together.