With environmental concerns increasing every day, scientists are frantically trying to find various solutions to reduce pollution, discover new sources of energy, and sustain the current resources. One such innovative solution for renewable fuels is the hydrogen station.
The hydrogen station, similar to a gasoline station, supplies hydrogen and can be placed along a road, in a home, or the hydrogen highway. These stations are meant for fuelling vehicles as well as small devices.
In vehicles, hydrogen is used in fuel cells or is mixed with fuels such as HCNG. A hydrogen highway is a chain of hydrogen-equipped filling stations and related infrastructure along a road or a highway. A hydrogen station supplies fuel in kilograms.
Today hydrogen stations can be found in many parts of the world. The following are some of the well-known ones:
- In 2000, Ford and Air Products introduced the first hydrogen station in North America in Dearborn, Michigan
- In 2003, Iceland opened the first commercial hydrogen station
- In 2006, Hawaii opened its first hydrogen station at Hickam
- In 2010, a hydrogen fuel station began operating in Berlin, Germany
- In 2011, the UK opened its first hydrogen filling station at the University of Birmingham
There are some hydrogen home stations already available in the market while others are in creation and testing stages. Some examples are listed below:
- Solar-powered water electrolyzing hydrogen home station
- Home Energy Station IV from Honda
- Hydrogen home station from Australia's CSIRO
- American Hydrogen Energy station
- ITM Power Green-box
Hydrogen Fuelling Stations
Proton Energy located in Connecticut, U.S., mainly manufactures hydrogen generators and hydrogen control systems. It is now venturing into the supply of hydrogen fuelling systems for utilities, as the company believes that home hydrogen fuelling stations will help promote hydrogen as the ‘green fuel’ in the future.
Similar to plug-in electric cars, hydrogen-powered cars and utilities have no emissions. The emission problems with these are due to the electricity used.
To overcome this problem, Proton Energy has begun developing generators that can work using alternative and renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, hydro, and wave energy to produce the electricity required to split water into hydrogen, thereby ensuring that the hydrogen generated is totally carbon-free.
HySTAT™ Electrolysers have developed their own version of a clean transportation fuel based on hydrogen. Using this electrolyzer in a fuelling station with compression, storage, and dispensing units offers the following benefits:
- Zero emissions during fuelling
- Renewable power sources reduce the carbon footprint
- Safe, reliable, and immediate supply of hydrogen
- Low maintenance systems
ITM Power of UK is another company involved in green projects. It has converted a Ford Focus to run on hydrogen. The hydrogen generator can be placed at home or garage and uses water and electricity to generate gas, which can be stored in a pressurized tank.
It can be used to power the hydrogen fuel tank of a car as well as produce household electricity. ITM’s technology will help provide a futuristic solution to the current lack of a refueling network, thus promoting the use of hydrogen-fuelled cars.
Similarly, Honda has also developed a technique to solve the lack of fuelling options for its hydrogen cars. Honda has created the Home Energy Station IV that can be fitted in homes. Customers of their FCX Clarity hydrogen cars will be happy to have their own fuelling station literally at their doorstep.
The Honda unit can power both the car and the energy requirements of the home at about 50% of the usual cost along with a 30% emissions reduction.
California's Hydrogen Highway is another leading example of up-gradation of the hydrogen distribution systems and infrastructure. Many of the drawbacks relating to the hydrogen fuelling stations are being solved at a steady pace.
Since fuel stations need electricity to function, that itself causes carbon dioxide emissions. This is seen as a hurdle to the popularity of hydrogen stations. However, many promoters are recommending the use of off-peak electricity or electricity from renewable sources as plausible solutions.
With better hydrogen distribution infrastructure, the potential for more hydrogen cars to be on the roads is becoming feasible. Responsible production of the electricity for the creation of hydrogen is imperative to this concept becoming a success in the future.
Hydrogen fuelling stations can definitely be a significant tool to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and tackle global warming.
Sources and Further Reading