In the later part of this decade the proliferation of hydrogen “gas” stations will begin to dot the landscape. Two major players in the hydrogen-manufacturing arena have signed an agreement to work together to bring hydrogen-fueling stations across the U.S. Air Products and Fuel Cell Energy will manufacture and market these stations. Fuel Cell Energy will manufacture systems that take natural gas or renewable biomass and produce hydrogen, electricity, and heat. Air Products will market and operate the fueling stations. Right now both companies are operating a test pilot facility in Orange County, California. The fueling stations are being developed as a stand-alone facility for commercial fleet operations and consumer retail sales. BMW is conducting a similar pilot plant that converts methane from a nearby landfill into hydrogen so that the manufacturer can power equipment at their Spartanburg, South Carolina manufacturing facility. Initially the two companies are hopeful that major manufacturing customers will buy into their system to power heavy machinery, forklifts, or passenger buses that have predictable routes and can return to the same location for refueling. The public bus system in Reykjavik, Iceland currently operates all of their buses on hydrogen. The only two states that have hydrogen vehicle initiatives are Hawaii and California. Fuel Cell Energy has a program in place with GM’s Hawaii Hydrogen Initiative. Both companies are looking to expand their nascent network of fueling stations to Japan and Europe.
Photo Credit: Air Products