Thursday, May 8, 2014

Hydrogen Fuel Cells Set to Power More Than Just Commercial Vehicles

Scheme to Roll Out Better, Cheaper Filling Stations
Shipping News Feature

US – WORLDWIDE – Amongst all the talk of bio-gas and dual fuel technologies, not to mention the use of commercial electrically powered vehicles, the once popular discussion of hydrogen fuel cells and their place in the use of new technology seems to have taken a back seat of late. There is however a strong argument which says that, in the battle for technical supremacy in the new fuel race, hydrogen may well prove the eventual victor.

The technology required to supply hydrogen as a reliable, safe fuel source for cars and trucks is advancing in leaps and bounds, the recent announcement by Toyota that such vehicles will go on sale by 2015, whilst Hyundai claims its ix35 is the world’s first series production fuel cell vehicle evidences this, but the lack of infrastructure to refuel still remains a major problem. Many automakers belong to the H2USA project and now the Hydrogen Fuelling Infrastructure Research and Station Technology (H2FIRST) project from the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energies Fuel Cell Technologies Office aims to streamline the roll out of suitable filling stations in support of this.

Industrial Lift & Hoist ran an excellent article recently extolling the virtues of hydrogen cell technology as a power source in fork lift trucks and once again California is in the driving seat as far as providing the initial impetus for a movement which may well change the face, not only of motoring, but of power generation in other environments. Sandia’s Center for Infrastructure Research and Innovation in Livermore will spearhead the H2FIRST project together with NREL’s Energy Systems Integration Facility in Colorado. Speaking about the scheme Air Resources Board Chairman, Mary D. Nichols, commented:

“This new project brings important federal know-how and resources to accelerate improvements in refuelling infrastructure that support the commercial market launch of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. California is committed to deploying at least 100 hydrogen refuelling stations in the next decade, and the H2FIRST effort is a big step toward the development and deployment of a broader, consumer-friendly infrastructure for us and the rest of the United States. We are excited to be joined by such prestigious partners in this effort.”

As to the extension of hydrogen as a fuel source for more than commercial and private vehicles, in Trenton, New Jersey, civil engineer Mike Strizki hasn’t paid a fuel bill for any of his cars, nor on his two story colonial style house for eight years. Using a combination system of batteries, solar panels, an electrolyser, which splits water into hydrogen and oxygen with only water as a waste product, the initial investment on this pilot project will never be recovered but shows the way forward for a technology which is set to release the grip which carboniferous fuels have had on the automotive industry for over a century, as economies of scale couple with cheaper solutions and the ever rising costs of traditional fuels.