Humboldt State to Get Hydrogen Powered Toyota Prius

SERC Prius being delivered

The hydrogen powered Prius being delivered to SERC. (Photo Credit SERC)

In the spring of 2007, SERC is scheduled to receive a hydrogen powered Toyota Prius for use at Humboldt State University (HSU). The vehicle will be operated for a two-year period as part of California’s Hydrogen Highway Program. HSU President Rollin Richmond will be one of the vehicle operators. According to Rollin, “it will please him greatly” to drive a hydrogen powered vehicle. He has committed a location on campus for a hydrogen fueling station. Engineers from SERC are designing and will install the station, which will include an electrolyzer, compressor, storage tanks, and a dispenser. SERC has secured $350,000 toward equipment and materials for the station. SERC is also seeking additional partners to help fund the cost of facility design and installation, as well as education and outreach efforts associated with the project.

Through this program SERC will help demonstrate the potential benefits associated with hydrogen fueled vehicles and will provide a testing ground for learning about the attributes and challenges of this new technology. SERC and HSU will operate, refuel, and perform routine maintenance on the vehicle, and will conduct education and outreach activities.

The vehicle used in this project will be a standard gasoline-electric hybrid Toyota Prius that has been converted to run on hydrogen by Quantum Technologies of Irvine, CA. Quantum will remove the gasoline tank and fuel lines and replace them with 5000 psi carbon fiber wrapped hydrogen cylinders and associated hydrogen plumbing. They will also add hydrogen fuel injectors and a turbo charger. The vehicle will hold 2.4 kg of hydrogen fuel, the energy equivalent of 2.4 gallons of gasoline. With an expected fuel efficiency of 40 to 50 mpg, the vehicle will have a driving range of about 100 miles.

Quantum has already converted more than 30 Toyota Prius vehicles to run on hydrogen. These vehicles are currently operating at various locations throughout the world. So keep an eye out, and you just might see President Richmond zipping around Humboldt State in his new hydrogen powered Prius.

About Jim Zoellick

James is a Senior Research Engineer at SERC. He has a B.S. Degree in Environmental Resources Engineering from Humboldt State University, and has worked professionally in the energy field since 1990. Since 1995 he has been a project manager at SERC and has been involved in the design, development, installation, and start-up of electrolytic hydrogen generation systems, hydrogen vehicle fueling stations, hydrogen fuel cell power systems, and solar electric power systems. Mr. Zoellick was the project manager and lead designer for both the Schatz Hydrogen Generation Center and the Zweig Education Building Fuel Cell System at SunLine Transit . Mr. Zoellick's additional work at SERC has included the development and demonstration of hydrogen fuel cell systems for real world applications, including vehicles and stationary, portable and remote power systems. Mr. Zoellick has also been involved in the design, installation, testing and modeling of photovoltaic energy systems, including the design and installation of a 2 kW AC grid-intertied system at the Campus Center for Appropriate Technology. Mr. Zoellick has taught several college level energy courses. He is the current chairman for the City of Arcata Energy Committee.