In early December, Marc Marshall and I travelled to Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana to install and train staff in the use of SERC’s first combined heat and power (CHP) fuel cell test station. CHP is also known as cogeneration. As reported in our Summer 2015 newsletter, the station was custom built for Professor Neera Jain in Purdue’s School of Mechanical Engineering.
Left to right: Greg Chapman, Professor Neera Jain, graduate students Austin Nash and Rian Browne, and Marc Marshall pose with the newly installed test station.
The test station was designed so that Neera and her engineering students can study the electrical and thermal characteristics of this fuel cell cogeneration system in a simulated residential application. A Ballard fuel cell stack produces the electrical power while waste heat from the stack is transferred to a domestic hot water tank via the fuel cell cooling water system. Custom software allows the researchers to simulate the electrical and domestic hot water use typical of a single-family home. By measuring performance in various conditions, Neera and her students will be able to develop control algorithms to optimize system efficiency.
Greg Chapman, project manager for the CHP fuel cell test station, poses with the newly installed test station.
Household fuel cell cogeneration systems have been field tested over the last few years and are making their way into the market, mainly in Japan and Germany. Panasonic launched its fourth generation fuel cell CHP model in 2015 and has installed over 10,000 units in Japan. Callux continues field-testing in Germany, and is targeting over 500 installed units by mid-2016. Both the Panasonic and Callux cogeneration systems convert natural gas to hydrogen in a reformer before supplying the fuel cell. It will be interesting to follow the progress of these high efficiency and reliable home energy systems as they enter the market.
There’s a new hydrogen vehicle in town: a 2016 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell vehicle. SERC will use this state-of-the-art vehicle, on a three-month loan from the Hyundai America Technical Center Station, as an education, outreach, demonstration, and testing tool for zero emission vehicle (ZEV) planning projects in the North State region of California.
These projects, funded by the California Energy Commission, include planning for hydrogen fueling infrastructure, working with local municipalities and key stakeholder groups to facilitate deployment of hydrogen fueling infrastructure and fuel cell vehicles, and conducting public education and outreach activities to promote these efforts.
The vehicle made its North Coast debut last month at the ZEV Ride and Drive Event at the Arcata Community Center. Along with our long-running Toyota Fuel Cell Hybrid vehicle, it was used as a shuttle for people attending Arcata’s 42nd Annual North Country Fair.
SERC research engineer Jerome Carman poses in front of the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell vehicle.
In addition to outreach events, SERC engineers will also collect and analyze driving and fueling data from the HSU Hydrogen Fueling Station to determine the vehicle’s performance under the driving conditions characteristic to our unique geographic and climatic region here in Humboldt County.
To learn more about the vehicle, come to the Sustainable Living Expo on Saturday, October 24 at the Redwood Acres Fairgrounds. The vehicle will be on display from 10am to 2pm, and SERC engineers will be available to answer questions you may have. Hope to see you there!
SERC has successfully installed and commissioned the 700 bar hydrogen fueling system at the Humboldt State University (HSU) Hydrogen Station. The first 700 bar hydrogen fueling of a Toyota FCHV-advanced vehicle took place on October 25, 2012 during testing operations with engineers from Toyota.
The 18-month project was supported by a grant from the California Department of Transportation entitled, “Developing a Hydrogen Transportation Infrastructure.” With the new fueling system, the station can now completely fuel state-of-the-art vehicles, such as the Toyota FCHV-advanced vehicle, to 700 bar. This high pressure fueling capability now connects the HSU station with the rest of California’s Hydrogen Highway.
The new fueling system required the installation of a 700 bar compressor and dispensing hardware to allow full fueling of vehicles. The compressor pumps hydrogen from the existing 420 bar storage tanks through the dispensing plumbing and directly into the vehicle’s fuel tanks.
Research Engineer Meg Harper performs a 700 bar refueling.
Data collection and analysis has started and will continue in order to evaluate the 700 bar fueling system and vehicle performance in day-to-day use. Through this continued operation and evaluation, SERC will contribute to the technical experience needed in the development of a hydrogen transportation infrastructure and also assist in public acceptance of this alternative fuel technology in California.
SERC engineers have completed the testing phase of the project’s commissioning plan. Two critical and successful steps in the plan were the high pressure testing of the 700 bar dispensing system and hydrogen gas analysis. The gas analysis, performed by two independent laboratories, indicate that the station’s gas quality meets the Hydrogen Fuel Quality for Fuel Cell Vehicles (SAE J2719) requirements set forth by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE).
The final task for project completion will be the initial 700 bar hydrogen fueling of one of the Toyota FCHV-adv vehicles. Toyota engineers will be on-site to monitor the fueling process and ensure that station operators follow proper vehicle fueling protocols.
The fueling station now serves two Toyota FCHV-adv; the second vehicle, also on loan from UC Berkeley, arrived at SERC in July.
The 700 bar compressor and partially-assembled high pressure dispensing system mounted on the block wall.
SERC is nearing the completion of the installation phase of our hydrogen station upgrade project. As a reminder, when it’s complete, the upgrade will allow us to completely fill our Toyota fuel cell car with 6 kg of hydrogen. That will give us a 400-mile range, enough to travel to the Bay Area or Sacramento and back.
The new 700 bar compressor is mounted and electrical power and the nitrogen and hydrogen gas supply lines have been connected. We are now in the process of installing the last few components of the high-pressure hydrogen dispensing system (the compressor discharge side). Once assembly is complete, SERC engineers will begin the testing phase of the commissioning plan. Tests will include field inspections, instrumentation verification tests, gas analysis, and pressure testing of the hydrogen plumbing. The initial start-up and operational testing of the new system will follow sometime in late July. This is an exciting period in the project; we’ll keep you posted on our progress.
SERC Senior Research Engineer Greg Chapman trains Professor Shamim and Graduate Student Abishek Raj of Masdar Institute on operation of the fuel cell test station. Photo credit Marc Marshall.
SERC engineers Greg Chapman and Marc Marshall recently traveled to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates to deliver a custom-built fuel cell test station to Professor Tariq Shamim at the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology. The test station, built using SERC’s new compact, portable form factor, took less than a day to uncrate and prepare for use. Greg and Marc spent the remainder of their visit training Professor Shamim, his colleague Professor Mohamed I. H. Ali, and graduate student Abishek Raj in the use of the test station.
Unprocessed wood chips (front) and the same feedstock after torrefaction. Photo credit Kellie Brown, HSU Photographer.
Although SERC’s three-year biomass gasification project is winding down, we are continuing to research biomass and its role as a renewable fuel. Our latest endeavour is torrefaction.
Torrefaction is a mild form of pyrolysis in which biomass is heated in an inert environment to a temperature between 200 and 300 °C. During the process, water and volatiles are removed and the hemicelluloses break down, yielding a dry, blackened solid product with a lower moisture content and higher energy content on a mass basis than the initial biomass.
SERC Senior Research Engineer Greg Chapman takes the newly acquired Toyota Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle out for a test drive. (Photo credit SERC).
SERC recently acquired a brand new hydrogen fuel cell vehicle from UC Berkeley’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center (TSRC). The smog-free vehicle is a 2009 Toyota Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle (FCHV-adv), and as the manufacturer states, “It is one of the most technologically-advanced vehicles on the planet.” SERC is helping the TSRC road test and acquire operational data for the vehicle.
SERC staff gathers for the much-anticipated initial system start-up. See additional start-up photos on the back page. (Photo credit SERC).
The gasifier system has successfully completed shakedown testing and is now ready for experimental testing. The gasifier burns wood chips in an air-deficient environment to produce a combustible gas made up of mainly hydrogen, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitrogen. The preliminary test results indicate that the production gas composition is very close to the expected values as provided by the manufacturer. Upcoming experiments will include a series of runs using wood chips of varying moisture contents. The production gas will be sampled and analyzed with a gas chromatograph throughout these runs in order to determine the effect of moisture content in the wood chips on the resulting gas composition.
The construction and installation phases of the hydrogen fueling station are complete
SERC Director Peter Lehman cuts the ribbon as Congr. Mike Thompson, HSU President Rollin Richmond, and Project Manager Greg Chapman look on (left to right). (Photo credit Kellie Jo Brown).
. Site inspections of the hydrogen piping and electrical system were conducted by a mechanical and electrical engineer with no major issues noted. SERC engineers are now beginning start-up testing of the station. Testing will include hydrogen generator, compressor, and dispenser operational checks, gas purging and pressure testing of the piping system, and safety and instrumentation system verification and operation testing.
Quantum Technologies’s retrofit of the hydrogen-powered Toyota Prius is complete and the vehicle is scheduled for delivery in the next month. Look for information on the fueling station’s grand opening on our homepage, www.schatzlab.org, or HSU’s homepage, www.humboldt.edu.