Energy Department Invests in Hydrogen Infrastructure and Fueling Technologies

Written By Thomas Ponco on Wednesday, July 18, 2012 | 9:30 PM

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Published July 19, 2012

By Philippe Crowe

As part of the U.S. Energy Department's commitment to give American businesses more options to cut energy costs and reduce reliance on imported oil, yesterday it announced a $2.4 million investment to collect and analyze performance data for hydrogen fueling stations and advanced refueling components.

The Energy Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy accelerates development and facilitates deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality.

The five projects – located in California, Illinois, and Connecticut – will track the performance and technical progress of innovative refueling systems at planned or existing hydrogen fueling stations to find ways to lower costs and improve operation.

These investments are part of the Department's commitment to support U.S. leadership in advanced hydrogen and fuel cell research and help industry bring hydrogen technologies into the marketplace at lower cost.

These new projects will collect data and monitor the performance of hydrogen fuel stations, advanced components and other innovative hydrogen technologies using renewable energy or natural gas. By analyzing performance in real-world environments, these projects will help hydrogen fueling equipment manufacturers improve the designs of existing systems to achieve higher efficiencies and test new system components.

Additionally, this data will help focus future research and development efforts, driving American manufacturing competitiveness in the next generation of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.

In addition, the Energy Department released the final report from a technology validation project that collected data from more than 180 fuel cell electric vehicles. Over six years, these vehicles made more than 500,000 trips and traveled 3.6 million miles, completing more than 33,000 fill-ups at hydrogen fueling stations across the country. The project found that these vehicles achieved more than twice the efficiency of today's gasoline vehicles with refueling times of five minutes for four kilograms of hydrogen.

As part of a two-year initiative, the Energy Department will make $2.4 million available in fiscal year 2012 with a 50 percent cost share being provided by the award winners. The projects selected for negotiation of award include:

• California Air Resources Board (Sacramento, California)— This project will analyze an operating hydrogen refueling station that uses natural gas to produce hydrogen. This station has an on-site storage capacity of over 180 kg of hydrogen and is capable of delivering over 60 kg of back-to-back fill-ups in less than one hour.(DOE Award: $150,000)

• California State University and Los Angeles Auxiliary Services, Inc. (Los Angeles, California) — This project will collect data from hydrogen refueling architecture deployed at California State University - Los Angeles. This station will be publicly accessible 24 hours per day and will fuel up to 20 hydrogen powered vehicles daily.(DOE Award: $400,000)

• Gas Technology Institute (Des Plaines, Illinois) – This project will analyze operational, transactional, safety, and reliability data from five hydrogen fueling stations. The project will deploy its hydrogen compressor technology at these stations, which will be accessible to the public for fueling commercial vehicles, government-owned vehicles and consumer fuel cell electric vehicles. (DOE Award: $400,000)

• Proton Energy Systems (Wallingford, Connecticut) – Proton Energy Systems will conduct two projects. This fist will provide operational data from two existing stations that integrate hydrogen generation, compression, storage and dispensing. The stations generate fuel cell-grade hydrogen from water through on-site, solar-powered electrolysis. The research team will collect data on station operation, maintenance, repair and energy consumption. (DOE Award: $400,000)

• Additionally, Proton Energy Systems will lead a second project to deploy an advanced high-pressure electrolyzer at an existing hydrogen fueling station and nearly double the dispensing capacity of its storage tanks. (DOE Award: $1 million)

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