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Development of a Turnkey Hydrogen Fuelling Station


The transition to hydrogen as a fuel source presents several challenges. One of the major hurdles is the cost-effective production of hydrogen in small quantities (less than 1MMscf/month). In the early demonstration phase, hydrogen can be provided by bulk distribution of liquid or compressed gas from central production plants; however, the next phase to fostering the hydrogen economy will likely include onsite generation and extensive pipeline networks to help effect a pervasive infrastructure. Providing inexpensive hydrogen at a fleet operator’s garage or local fuelling station is a key enabling technology for direct hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCVs). The objective of this project was to develop a comprehensive, turnkey, stand-alone, commercial hydrogen fuelling station for FCVs with state-of-the-art technology that is cost-competitive with current hydrocarbon fuels. Such a station would promote the advent of the hydrogen fuel economy for buses, fleet vehicles, and ultimately personal vehicles. Air Products, partnering with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), The Pennsylvania State University, Harvest Energy Technology, and QuestAir, developed a turnkey hydrogen fuelling station on the Penn State campus. Air Products aimed at designing a station that would have 65% overall station efficiency, 82% PSA (pressure swing adsorption) efficiency, and the capability of producing hydrogen at $3.00/kg (gge) H2 at mass production rates. Air Products designed a fuelling station at Penn State from the ground up. This project was implemented in three phases. The first phase evaluated the various technologies available in hydrogen generation, compression, storage, and gas dispensing. In the second phase, Air Products designed the components chosen from the technologies examined. Finally, phase three entailed a several-month period of data collection, full-scale operation, maintenance of the station, and optimization of system reliability and performance. Based on field data analysis, it was determined by a proprietary hydrogen-analysis model that hydrogen produced from the station at a rate of 1500 kg/day and when produced at 1000 stations per year would be able to deliver hydrogen at a price of $3.03/kg (gge) H2. The station’s efficiency was measured to be 65.1%, and the PSA was tested and ran at an efficiency of 82.1%, thus meeting the project targets. From the study, it was determined that more research was needed in the area of hydrogen fuelling. The overall cost of the hydrogen energy station, when combined with the required plot size for scaled-up hydrogen demands, demonstrated that a station using steam methane reforming technology as a means to produce on–site hydrogen would have limited utility in the marketplace. Alternative hydrogen supplies, such as liquid or pipeline delivery to a refuelling station, need to be included in the exploration of alternative energy site layouts. These avenues need to be explored before a definitive refuelling station configuration and commercialization pathway can be determined.

Funding source: USDOE Office of Hydrogen, Fuel Cells, and Infrastructure Technologies Program (EE-2H)
Related subjects: Applications & Pathways
Countries: United States

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