Today Honda is beginning operation of its new Solar Hydrogen Station at its headquarters in Torrance, California. The new Honda Solar Hydrogen Station replaces the Honda Home Energy Station IV.
Back in November 2007, I had talked about the Honda Home Energy Station IV (which was in collaboration with Plug Power Inc.) as a piece of promising technology that would put consumers in control of their own refueling by putting a hydrogen station right in their own garages. In fact, Honda isn’t the only company developing home hydrogen fueling stations as there are a few others such as ITM Power.
Honda compares the new station to the old, “The previous solar hydrogen station system required both an electrolyzer and a separate compressor unit to create high pressure hydrogen. The compressor was the largest and most expensive component and reduced system efficiency. By creating a new high differential pressure electrolyzer, Honda engineers were able to eliminate the compressor entirely – a world’s first for a home use system. This innovation also reduces the size of other key components to make the new station the world’s most compact system, while improving system efficiency by more than 25-percent (value calculated based on simulations) compared to the solar hydrogen station system it replaces.”
But, even though the Honda Solar Hydrogen Station name implies that photovoltaic power is to be used to create H2, the device can also use “smart grid” technology from the electric company during off-peak hours for minimal cost. During the daytime, the Honda Solar Hydrogen Station can even sell electricity back to the grid.
The idea behind the Honda Solar Hydrogen Station is to complement fast filling public H2 refueling stations and not compete with them. The Honda Solar Hydrogen Station does not store hydrogen, but creates it on demand and thus is considered a slow filling (overnight) means of refueling one’s fuel cell vehicle.
One might find parallels between slow fueling a hydrogen car and trickle charging an electric vehicle overnight, but there is a significant difference with the Honda Solar Hydrogen Station. The Honda device can also be used as a power station to supply electricity to one’s home as well as refuel the car and the H2 car will have a longer range.