Home Hydrogen Fueling Stations
Imagine in the future, driving your hydrogen car into your garage
and gassing it up with your very own home hydrogen fueling station.
Sounds pretty out there, doesn't it? But, as far off as it sounds,
there are people right now working to make this concept a reality.
Take for instance Honda Motor Company, which has developed the
Home Energy Station III that not only refuels a hydrogen car such
as the Honda FCX,
but it can also power a home as well. The Home Energy Station III
uses natural gas and an onboard reformer to separate out the hydrogen
for refueling the car. In order to create energy, it runs the hydrogen
through a fuel cell and can thus generate power for a home as well.
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In November 2007, Honda announced its new Home Energy Station IV
that uses steam reforming of natural gas to derive hydrogen from
both the steam and natural gas in equal parts. The Home Energy Station
IV is 75-percent smaller than older units and provides hydrogen
for a car as well as heat and electricity for the home.
The home refueling station is being tested at the Honda R&D
Americas facility in Torrance, California. Honda is stating that
the Home Energy Station IV will reduce CO2 emissions by 30-percent
and energy costs by 50-percent compared to an average home that
is on the grid and uses a gasoline-powered car.
General Motors has announced that they are developing a home hydrogen
fueling station for use with their line of Equinox Fuel Cell vehicles
that they will begin rolling out in limited numbers in 2007. The
General Motors hydrogen generator will be able to run on either
solar energy or electricity.
In 2008, British firm ITM Power announced that they were building
a home hydrogen fueling station that would be available by the end
of the year. This H2 refueling station uses an inexpensive plastic
membrane and electrolyzes water to produce the hydrogen. Through
economies of scale the price of this unit could drop as low as $4,000.
Hydrogenics HomeFueler Energy Station
Hydrogenics (formerly Stuart Energy) also has developed a home
hydrogen fueling station called the HomeFueler that is based upon
the larger HyStat-A Energy Station. The HomeFueler uses electricity
to electrolyze water, generating hydrogen for refueling cars. The
HomeFueler may also be hooked into a wind energy or solar power
for a home hydrogen fueling station based upon renewable energy
Then there's the Angel's Nest in Taos, New Mexico built by Robert
Plarr, which uses solar and wind power to electrolyze water and
create hydrogen that generates power for the vast home. Excess hydrogen
is also used in an Air Products Series 100 fueling station to gas
up any hydrogen vehicle that may have wandered off the main roadway.
And then there's Michael Strizki's solar / hydrogen home in East
Amwell, New Jersey that can use the excess hydrogen created by
the solar panels and electrolysis to power all the hydrogen cars
that may just happen to be in the neighborhood. In fact, Mr. Strizki
has one such hydrogen car in his garage that he keeps for the
New Jersey Department of Transportation. Both the Angel's Nest
site and Strizki's home use Proton OnSite hydrogen generation
Then there's someone who has a hydrogen home who could use a brand
new hydrogen generator (and
car) to go along with it. In 2005, Bryan Beaulieu, an engineer and
inventor in Scottsdale, Arizona built a $2 million, 6,000 square
foot, solar / hydrogen powered dream home. If Mr. Beaulieu were
inclined to attain a hydrogen car, he would most likely need a hydrogen
home fueling station since Arizona currently only has two hydrogen
Three friends in Washington State have also built a solar-hydrogen
house on their little weekend island getaway just off the coast.
Stephen Friend, Jason Lerner and Charles Delahunt were tired of
hauling batteries back and forth to the home so that put up solar
panels, electrolyzer, PEM fuel cell and hydrogen storage tank to
supply all their electrical needs.
The Chewonki Renewable Hydrogen Project is a demonstration project
in Maine. The Chewonki Project has a house that 60 participants
have adapted to run on hydrogen using a Avalence Hydrofiller electrolyzer
and ReliOn fuel cells.
The hydrogen generators and home hydrogen fueling stations of the
future will most likely come in three varieties including electrolysis
units, reformers and chemical reaction units. The electrolysis units
work by simply splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen, then compressing
and storing the H2 for future use. The reformers use natural gas,
methane or another hydrogen-rich gas and separate out the hydrogen
for use as fuel. The chemical reaction units use boron, aluminum
or other chemical substances and water to create a reaction generating
hydrogen for use for fuel.
There are many companies right now claiming to have commercial
hydrogen generation units available for sale. Unfortunately, leading-edge
technology tends to bring out the scam artists as well. So, a
word of caution to the wise is before spending any money - ask
the company for references from satisfied customers so that you
know they are legitimate vendors. Check the company out with the
Better Business Bureau and ask the company to see a working demo
of their products. A little caution will go a long way in making
sure you're on the leading edge of technology and not on the bleeding
edge of technology.
As an update, in January 2010, the Honda Solar Hydrogen Station
went into operation at the company's headquarters in Torrance,
California. The Honda Solar Hydrogen Station is an upgrade to
the Home Energy Station IV eliminating the compressor altogether.
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