Clean hydrogen helps light up roads in Sweden

Emissions-free fuel cells powered by GENIE ® Hydrogen from Linde have helped lighted road sign operator Saferoad cut down on noise and pollution.

In Sweden, darkness is a fact of life during the winter months. From October through February, the capital of Stockholm averages less than three hours of sunlight per day which means drivers are often driving in darkness.

As a result, lighted road signs have an outsized role to play in informing motorists about potential traffic hazards or disruptions due to construction or accidents.

One provider of such signs is Saferoad, a leading supplier of road safety solutions in Europe. In addition to lighted road signs, the company also provides a range of other innovative road safety solutions across Sweden from its headquarters in Köping.

Traditionally, Saferoad has relied on diesel generators to supply the electricity required to keep its signs shining brightly through Sweden’s long, dark nights. Now, Saferoad is switching to clean hydrogen.

From diesel to hydrogen

While diesel generators were generally reliable, they nevertheless presented a number of problems.

“We used to get a lot of complaints about the diesel generators, especially when they were deployed in residential areas,” explains Urban Carlsson, a Business Area Manager with Saferoad in Sweden.

The generators were extremely noisy and also emitted a steady stream of foul-smelling exhaust fumes. They also relied on diesel, a fossil fuel that increased Saferoad’s overall environmental impact – something that Carlsson and his colleagues were keen to address.

“It’s important for Saferoad to have less impact on the environment because of demands from our customers and our owners,” he explains.

The search for alternatives led Carlsson to Linde and clean hydrogen as a potential replacement for diesel and a key product for an environmentally friendly energy transition.

GENIE® hydrogen: more gas, less maintenance

Carlsson had been intrigued by hydrogen’s potential and agreed to start testing a Linde solution consisting of lightweight GENIE® hydrogen cylinders combined with a HYMERA® hydrogen fuel cell generator.

“The new GENIE® cylinder contains 45 percent more gas than traditional steel cylinders and weighs only 22 kilos, compared to roughly 40 kilos for the old steel cylinders,” says Linde Sales Representative Joakim Resare.

“Combined with a HYMERA® generator, the new GENIE® hydrogen cylinder can generate 7000-watt hours of electricity, enough to power two 50-watt LED lights for three straight days.”

The GENIE®’s increased capacity translates into reduced maintenance costs for Saferoad, with signs requiring only one maintenance visit a week, while signs powered by diesel generators must be serviced 2-3 times a week.

Reducing environmental impact

The HYMERA® fuel cell generator is also compact and silent. The hydrogen it uses isn’t burned to produce electricity. Rather, the gas reacts with oxygen, with water vapor as the only by-product.

“This is a great example of how Linde works with our clients to find solutions to help them reduce their environmental impact,” says Resare.

“Anyone who is using the old, traditional diesel generators should consider using this application with hydrogen because it's emissions free.”

Following a number of successful tests carried out together with Linde, Saferoad has so far installed the GENIE®/HYMERA® hydrogen solution on six lighted road signs.

From Carlsson’s point of view, the benefits of switching from diesel generators to hydrogen fuel cells are obvious.

“The GENIE® hydrogen solution from Linde means lower maintenance costs, no noise, and it’s better for the environment since there are no emissions,” he says.

“We have about 20 signs today in Sweden and hopefully we will have all of them running with GENIE® hydrogen in the future.”

Read more about exciting stories on hydrogen applications 

Text: Carina Aspenberg, Anna Hastings


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