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First Hydrogen Filling Station In U.S. Opens For Fuel-Cell Cars

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Mazda Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid

Mazda Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid

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Did you notice? Us either.

Nonetheless, last week, the first commercial hydrogen filling station in the country was opened in Wallingford, Connecticut, by startup firm SunHydro.

The company generates hydrogen onsite using electricity from an array of photovoltaic solar cells that splits apart water molecules to yield hydrogen and oxygen.

There are roughly 70 hydrogen filling stations nationwide, most of them in California, but this claims to be the very first one to be open to the public at large.

Actress Q'orianka Kilcher poses next to a Honda FCX Clarity at the 2007 Los Angeles Auto Show.

Actress Q'orianka Kilcher poses next to a Honda FCX Clarity at the 2007 Los Angeles Auto Show.

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So if you happen to be one of the very, very few people driving a hydrogen fueled car--whether one of 100 or so Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Cell crossovers in GM's "Project Driveway" test, the Honda FCX Clarity, or even the BMW Hydrogen 7 Series sedan, which burns hydrogen in its piston engine--you now have a place you can fill up at will.

In fact, its initial users will be largely restricted to four transit buses from the fleet operated in nearby Hartford. At a cost of $10 per kilogram of hydrogen, the fuel is roughly cost-competitive with gasoline and diesel.

That said, we remain somewhat skeptical about the medium-term chances for hydrogen as a vehicle fuel. It carries a lot of energy, like gasoline, but it also requires a lot of energy to make, whether from water, natural gas, or even urea.

And there is essentially no distribution system in place for hydrogen--the same problem as for E85 ethanol fuel--as well as only 1,000 or so vehicles globally that can use it.

Still, it's nice to know there's a station open. If you happen to be in surburban Connecticut.

[IEEE Spectrum; Fast Company]

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Comments (6)
  1. Are you saying that there are less than 1,000 hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles in the whole world? Less hydrogen cars than there are Tesla Roadsters? If that's true, why would anyone bother with hydrogen fuel stations at all?
     
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  2. government grants, status symbol (being "the first"), etc. their math is correct. hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are rare.. cars that combust hydrogen are even more rare.
    but that being said, knowing there are 4 buses in your area that can only be fuelled at your pumps is a sort of business case in and of itself.
     
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  3. Given the losses inherent in both PV generation, electrolytic hydrogen splitting, and the necessary energy for compressing to such high pressures, it would be more cost effective to use the electricity directly for a Battery EV. Hydrogen is just a more energy dense and portable storage medium. It is likely the utility is in constant slow generation while the sun shines waiting for that rare FCV to come around for a fill-up. Better to charge cars directly or into a bank of batteries which can used for transfer to an EV customer at a fast charging rate.
     
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  4. The fuel cell passenger vehicles and buses on the road today are rather like beta test vehicles. Most automakers plan to commercialize the vehicles by 2015. Stations, including the SunHydro station, come online as the vehicles are rolled out. Visit www.cafcp.org for more into.
     
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  5. This article seems a little biased to me or at least the tone is counter productive to hydrogen use.
    The company uses free energy from the sun to generate hydrogen from water. Stores it in a tank and when somebody needs it they pay a fair price for it.
    Sounds like good business.
    The oil companies pump it out of the ground, dump and pollute our water with it or the waste and congest our streets with dangerous tanker trucks.
    Batteries are no solution. I wish! Are you going to wait 2 hours for the solar panel to charge your battery or stay 20 miles from home?
    If every few gas stations had a solar panel generating hydrogen the number of hydrogen powered cars would have the infrastructure we need without building new stations. We know gas stations are not going away for a zillion years so why not, gas, diesel, propane, hydrogen, water and cigarettes.
    If everybody always bad mouths hydrogen we will continue to be controlled by oil prices and live with pollution it generates. Hydrogen is a good choice and we have lots of it at good prices.
     
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  6. Paul Gracey:energy density of hydrogen really isn't that great. De Honda FCX Clarity will get 280 miles on 4.1 kilo of hydrogen which sounds great except it takes a 170 litre tank to store it and one has to add the volume of the fuel cell and the volume of the batteries a hydrogen car still needs for back up to that for comparison with battery electric. I reckon at the same volume this car could have packed at least 60KWH worth of batteries, which would have given it roughly identical range. Fitted with an economical 30MPG ICE this car would have travelled roughly 400 miles on the $40 it takes to fill up with hydrogen so at $10/kilo hydrogen is not cost-competitive with gasoline and diesel either.
     
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