ITM Power looks like the dark horse breaking away from the herd as it has made an aggressive move to become the only company to offer a commercial home hydrogen fueling station. In the past, I’ve talked about General Electric, Honda and General Motors all developing such H2 refueling units, but these are still in the development stage.
In addition, Hydrogenics used to offer the HomeFueler unit, but from their website it looks like this has been dropped from their product lineup. One can still purchase the larger Hystat-A unit, but this is typically used for larger applications than home refueling.
The ITM home hydrogen refueling station is based upon a special proprietary plastic membrane, which took six years to develop, and separates water into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen is then separated and used to refuel the H2 car.
For the unveiling of the hydrogen station, ITM Power set up a display home in Sheffield, UK, which also featured a Ford Focus that Roush Technologies had converted to run on hydrogen gas. The simple conversion included a hydrogen tank and four injectors costing roughly $6,500 in total plus an electronic chip and presumably software and no price was given for these last two components.
As hydrogen conversion kits go, this is far cheaper than other conversions of gasoline-powered cars from different manufacturers costing over $50,000 or the conversion of a CNG vehicle at over $15,000.
The ITM refueling station prototype that was unveiled in Sheffield can only provide enough capacity to run overnight and refuel a hydrogen car for 25 miles. As the development continues the capacity is expected to increase to at least 100 miles.
ITM sees its immediate customers as being the managers of large fleets such as the post office or other package delivery services. Next in line, when prices drop due to mass production, average consumers will also be in line for the home refueling unit. No price was given for the initial rollout of the ITM home hydrogen station, but ITM’s chief executive, Jim Heathcote estimates that with economies of scale the unit could drop as low as $4,000.