LEHIGH VALLEY, Pa., Aug. 16, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Air Products (NYSE: APD), the leader in hydrogen fueling technology, today officially opened its newest California hydrogen fueling station drawing its feedstock from a very novel and sustainable source. Air Products is pumping hydrogen into fuel cell vehicles that is generated from the municipal wastewater treatment plant at the Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD) in Fountain Valley. In addition to generating hydrogen, the project also creates electricity and heat from this renewable source. This technology application is uniquely the first in the world and opens significant opportunities for other biogas feedstock streams.
Methane gas is created while the wastewater at the OCSD facility sits in holding tanks. This methane begins a clean-up process where the gas stream enters a purification system and then feeds into a fuel cell, built by FuelCell Energy, Inc. (NASDAQ: FCEL), where it is reformed to hydrogen. In the fuel cell, clean electricity is produced for use at the OCSD facility and the heat created could also be directed to several site uses. Excess hydrogen not converted to electricity leaves the unit and is further purified to make it vehicle grade for fuel cell automobile fueling via Air Products' technology. The facility will produce enough hydrogen for 25 to 50 fuel cell vehicle fuelings per day and generate 250 kilowatts of electricity daily.
"This location will show how well this technology works and can be applied to wastewater and other waste applications to generate hydrogen. It is another first for Air Products in terms of the varied sources of feed from which hydrogen can be produced, stored and dispensed by our proprietary fueling technology," said Ed Heydorn, business development manager – Hydrogen Energy Systems at Air Products. "Another plus is that renewable hydrogen is required to be in the mix in fueling stations in California. We look to this type of technology as a platform to meet the renewable requirement and to supply even cleaner hydrogen to the next generation of fuel cell vehicles." Heydorn also praised the public-private project collaboration that included the United States Department of Energy, which provided partial funding, OCSD, Air Products, FuelCell Energy, National Fuel Cell Research Center at the University of California, Irvine, California Air Resources Board and South Coast Air Quality Management District.
"This is the epitome of sustainability by taking a human waste and transforming it into electricity which we need, and transportation fuel that we need, as well as thermal product heat that could serve the process of transforming the feed waste into productive products," said Professor Scott Samuelsen, director – National Fuel Cell Research Center, University of California, Irvine. "This project is at the nexus of the challenge for the next millennium associating how we handle in concert transportation, energy and water resources."Ed Torres, director – Operations and Maintenance for OCSD, views the project as part of the solution to air quality issues in the region. "It provides an alternative to us in dealing with air quality in this basin where we are heavily regulated. The project also ensures us going into the future that we have a technology that can provide power and heat and produces a transportation fuel with no emissions and comes from a renewable source. I think this provides a promising future for our industry." Feedstock sources such as agricultural, food, and brewery wastes and landfill gas can benefit from this technology. If all of these available streams were converted to hydrogen it could support fueling up to 200 million fuel cell vehicles in the U.S. with hydrogen and point to sustainable energy independence.