Air Products has motored on down from Pennsylvania, where they are headquartered to Aiken County, South Carolina to supply the region with its first mobile hydrogen fueling station. The Aiken County Economic Development Partnership is developing a pickup truck that uses an internal combustion engine to run on compressed hydrogen gas and needs a way to refuel the vehicle onsite.
Globally, Air Products has its mobile hydrogen refueling station in over 20 locations. Air Products also has 75 stationary hydrogen stations placed in 12 different countries. The top left photo is one that I took of an Air Products mobile hydrogen fueling station that the company brought to the National Hydrogen Association (NHA) Conference in Long Beach, California in 2006.
The mobile fueling station was set up in a parking lot about a mile from the convention center and was used to refuel the 8 to 10 hydrogen cars that we available for ride and drives that year. Over time, I’ve thought about Air Products’ idea of bringing the hydrogen to the consumer and what this may look like in the future as a small scale model for hydrogen distribution.
Mind you, mobile hydrogen fueling stations will probably not work on a large scale because of the sheer logistics, but on a smaller scale, mobile refueling may look similar to the model where during the 8-hours that you work, a company comes out and cleans and details your car for you.
Perhaps this same company could top you off with hydrogen as well. Or perhaps, you would contract to a different company to come out with their mobile fueling station to gas you up while you’re slaving away at your desk.
The second photo was also taken at the NHA conference. I’m not sure if Air Products is the manufacturer of this device as I wasn’t able to get confirmation. But, what is have been told is that this smaller device will hold several compressed hydrogen tanks on it and can be used in smaller spaces, such as someone’s garage for the refueling of their hydrogen car.
This may be another model for home refueling of hydrogen cars. Just like a person may go down to the local discount store to swap out propane tanks, one day, they may also swap out compressed hydrogen tanks as well. They would then attach the tanks to a device like the one pictured in the shelter of their own garage.
In regard to hydrogen technology, one thing for certain is that the future is uncertain. We need to stop thinking in terms of modeling the hydrogen refueling infrastructure after the gasoline infrastructure and come up with outside-the-box solutions that are more consumer friendly.
Mobile hydrogen refueling may just be one part of the infrastructure puzzle that needs to be given serious consideration going forward.