New Hydrogen Fueling Stations Operating in California and Illinois
May 23, 2007
The ability to fill the tanks of fuel cell vehicles increased on May 21st, when Southern California Edison and Chevron Technology Ventures LLC dedicated a new hydrogen fueling station at the utility's headquarters in Rosemead, California. The fueling station, which was partially funded by DOE, employs an electrolyzer to convert water into hydrogen and oxygen, producing 40 kilograms of hydrogen per day with 60 kilograms of hydrogen storage. The hydrogen will fuel a fleet of up to nine Hyundai fuel cell cars. See the press release from Edison International.
A hydrogen fueling station also opened at the Gas Technology Institute in Des Plaines, Illinois, in April. The state's first hydrogen station will produce hydrogen from natural gas or ethanol or through the electrolysis of water. It will be publicly available with credit-card access. According to a database compiled by the National Hydrogen Association (NHA), there are now 45 hydrogen fueling stations operating in the United States. See the GTI press release and the NHA database.
Hydrogen fueling stations could be a thing of the past if a new process developed at Purdue University proves successful. Purdue engineers have created an alloy of aluminum and gallium that spontaneously generates hydrogen when added to water. The gallium prevents the aluminum from forming an oxide coating, which normally blocks aluminum's reaction with water. The reaction converts the aluminum to aluminum oxide but leaves the gallium untouched. The trick to making this feasible, of course, would be to recycle the gallium while finding an inexpensive and energy-efficient means of converting the aluminum oxide back to aluminum. See the Purdue press release.