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While DOE Drops Hydrogen Budget DoD Gives $1.5 Million Contract

While the Obama Administration and Department of Energy (DOE) have decided to slash the hydrogen research budget by 60-percent and zero out funding for hydrogen vehicles, the U. S. Department of Defense (DoD) has other plans.

The DoD has recently awarded Plug Power Incorporated a $1.5 million contract to produce hydrogen-powered forklifts for the defense department. While this doesn’t seem like a lot of money in comparison it does show that at least one part of the current administration sees value in producing zero emission vehicles powered by hydrogen.

Plug Power, along with Air Products, Proterra and the Gas Technology Institute will not only provide 19 fuel cells and lift trucks for this project but they will also test out a unique method for generating the hydrogen as well.

While most hydrogen produced today is done so by steam reforming natural gas, the hydrogen from this project will come from a wastewater treatment plant digester. I’ve talked about wastewater treatment plants in the past as being a valuable source for hydrogen and the DoD wants to test both production and vehicles under this grant.

Previously Plug Power received $41.9 million from the DOE in federal stimulus money for stationary fuel cell production.

About Hydro Kevin Kantola

Hydro Kevin Kantola
I'm a hydrogen car blogger, editor and publisher interested in documenting the history and the progression of hydrogen cars, vehicles and infrastructure worldwide.

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  1. My previous post seems to have not made it through, so I’ll resubmit:

    A point of engineering:

    This process is still steam reforming natural gas – it is not magic hydrogen. In this case the methane (natural gas) is cleaned (of toxins and CO2, which must be dealt with) and sent to a fuel cell to generate electricity. The alternative would be flaring, or sending the methane to be combusted to run a turbine to generate electricity.

    The only difference is the source of the methane is from an anearobic digester and not a hole in the ground.

  2. admin

    Will you provide a link to some supporting documentation that states exactly how the hydrogen will be produced at this particular facility?

  3. From the press release: “Gas Technology Institute (GTI): supply a hydrogen generation reformer and gas clean up system for digester gas ”

    That, or you can just google Ft. Lewis and hydrogen from biogas. There’s tons of DOE stuff on it, project has been around for a while.

    Anaerobic digesters build up “biogas”. Landfills too. They are all required to flare or capture the the gas, as it’s a pretty nasty GHG. This gas is pretty dirty stuff though – tons of toxins (for obvious reasons), and roughly 60% methane, 40% CO2. Lots of places are using the gas to power turbines. It’s classified as “renewable” energy, so counts against RPS requirements. Alternatively, you could clean it up (separate the toxins and CO2), and send the methane either to a pipeline (for whatever use) or to a reformer, to crack it into hydrogen and water.

  4. admin

    Thanks for the info, but I was asking for specific info about the article I had linked to thinking that perhaps you had some inside information. If you had followed the bottom link on my blog you’d know there is more than one way to generate hydrogen from waste treatment plants.

  5. No inside information – the quote I gave you is from the Plug Power press release on the Fort Lewis DOE project – this is public information directly related to the article you linked to. Plug will provide fuel cells, GTI will provide the SMR, Air Products will compress and store the hydrogen.

    I am aware of the canadian project you referenced, though I’m not aware of it being reproduced anywhere else. The SMR/biogas process is a mature commercial process.

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