Fountain Valley, California which is about 60 miles from where I live is getting a new hydrogen fueling station today. And this hydrogen fueling station is a little different than the others in the U. S. While the others use hydrogen created from reforming natural gas or electrolyzing water, the one in Fountain Valley will create hydrogen from sewage.
FuelCell Energy is the company that has created the biogas to hydrogen power plant. According to FuelCell Energy, “Biogas is generated continuously by the wastewater treatment process at OCSD. DFC power plants convert this biogas into hydrogen, which is then used to generate power in an electro-chemical process that is virtually pollution-free. The hydrogen obtained from the biogas that is not used to generate electricity is routed to the nearby hydrogen vehicle fueling station. The power plant is generating 250 kilowatts of ultra-clean power, enough to power about 200 average size homes and renewable hydrogen that can fuel approximately 25 vehicles per day.”
The Los Angeles Times has a different take on this as they quote Scott Samuelsen, director of the UC Irvine National Fuel Research Center. According to Samuelsen, “This is a paradigm shift. This is the epitome of sustainability, where we’re taking an endless stream of human waste and transforming it to transportation fuel.”
The location of the treatment facility is in Orange County, CA off the 405 Freeway at Euclid Avenue. The hydrogen is created there from human waste, garbage and whatever other debris and contaminants flow through the Orange County sewer systems.
Apparently this project is a couple of years behind according to this H2 fueling station locator map which said this facility was planned for 2009. However, better late than never and if this pilot program is successful, you can expect similar facilities popping up in other parts of the country.
Perhaps this is a piece of the infrastructure puzzle that has been missing all along and now that it’s found we may start to see other puzzle pieces falling into place rapidly over the next 4 to 5 years.