HSU Hydrogen Fueling Station Upgrade

SERC Engineers Greg Chapman (left) and Mark Rocheleau with the new 700 bar compressor.

SERC Engineers Greg Chapman (left) and Mark Rocheleau with the new 700 bar compressor. (Photo credit Andrea Alstone.)

SERC is now beginning the construction phase of our hydrogen station upgrade project.  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 has arrived and the on-site work for the fueling station upgrade is in progress. The extension to the east block wall is complete and our design has been reviewed and approved by an independent engineer with experience in hydrogen systems. In the coming weeks the compressor will be moved to its final location (no small task) and plumbing and electrical work can begin. We’re excited to see the upgrade taking shape; stay tuned for more updates.

SERC Supports AC Transit’s HyRoad Program

AC Transit Safety Training

Emeryville firefighters pose in front of the latest AC Transit fuel cell bus during a SERC hydrogen awareness and safety training (Photo credit SERC).

Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District, more commonly known as AC Transit, boasts the largest hydrogen fuel cell bus program in the United States, and one of the largest in the world. This places them on the leading edge introducing hydrogen and fuel cell vehicle technology. Their HyRoad fuel cell vehicle demonstration program has operated since 2000. This program includes fuel cell bus and light duty fuel cell vehicle operation, on-site hydrogen production, delivery and storage of hydrogen produced off-site, hydrogen vehicle fueling, hydrogen vehicle maintenance, safety training, and public education. Throughout the project period, SERC has partnered with AC Transit, providing education and outreach, training, and consulting services.

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HSU Hydrogen Fueling Station Upgrade

Humboldt State University Hydrogen Fueling Station

Humboldt State University Hydrogen Fueling Station (Photo credit Kellie Brown).

The HSU Hydrogen Fueling Station high-pressure upgrade is underway. The principal design work is complete and all major equipment has been ordered. The new high-pressure compressor should arrive at HSU any day now. HSU Plant Operations will begin work to expand the east block wall and run new electrical service to accommodate the new compressor. Once Plant Operations is finished, SERC engineers will begin plumbing the high-pressure hydrogen lines that make up the new dispensing system. Testing and commissioning of the upgrade is targeted to begin in early spring.

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Hydrogen Fueling Station to Receive Upgrade

Humboldt State University Hydrogen Fueling Station

Humboldt State University Hydrogen Fueling Station (Photo credit Kellie Jo Brown).

SERC has recently received a Caltrans grant to increase the delivery pressure capacity of the HSU hydrogen fueling station. Currently the station stores hydrogen gas at 420 bar (6,000 pounds per square inch), and can fill a vehicle’s tank to 350 bar (5,000 psi). The upgrade will allow for fueling up to 700 bar (10,000 psi). Newer fuel cell vehicles, such as the Toyota FCHV-adv currently on loan at HSU from UC Berkeley, have storage tanks rated for 700 bar storage, which almost doubles the amount of hydrogen that can be stored onboard.

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Testing the Performance of a New Electrolysis Cell Stack

Electrolysis Cell

The new cell stack in place inside the HOGEN® electrolyzer (Photo credit SERC).

At last spring’s National Hydrogen Association (NHA) conference, graduate research assistant Andrea Allen reported on the performance and efficiency of our hydrogen fueling station over its first full year of operation. During the conference, SERC director Peter Lehman and Andrea discussed the efficiency of the electrolyzer with representatives from Proton Energy Systems, the unit’s manufacturer. With the desire to field test their new product, Proton offered to replace the current electrolyzer cell stack with a newer developmental model, designed for higher efficiency and lower cost. This new cell stack uses a bipolar plate design with a 70% part count reduction. Fewer parts result in an overall reduction in the interfacial resistances of the cell stack, which leads to better performance. In addition to replacing the electrolyzer cell stack, Proton recommended installing a valve to partially bypass the heat exchanger, allowing the electrolyzer to run at a higher temperature, which further increases the efficiency.

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Road Testing Toyota’s New Generation Hydrogen Fuel Cell Car

Toyota Highlander Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle

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.

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Hydrogen Fueling Station Update

Humboldt State University Hydrogen Fueling Station

Humboldt State University Hydrogen Fueling Station (Photo credit Kellie Jo Brown)

The final troubleshooting is complete at the Humboldt State Hydrogen Fueling Station. We are now producing and dispensing hydrogen gas reliably. Dave Hoskins, equipment technician at the Telonicher Marine Laboratory in Trinidad, CA and the primary Prius driver, is now able to refuel the Prius unassisted. The station is running as designed with no operator intervention, and the data acquisition system now allows for remote data collection.

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SERC Supports AC Transit in Implementing Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology

AC Transit Fueling Station

A rendering of AC Transit’s hydrogen fueling station in Emeryville, CA.

The Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District, or AC Transit, has been working to introduce hydrogen fuel cell technology into their transit bus system since 1999. Today they have one of the most comprehensive hydrogen fuel cell demonstration programs in the world. This includes three fuel cell buses operating in regular passenger service that have logged over 125,000 miles while serving more than 300,000 passengers.  Their program also includes a fleet of fuel cell passenger vehicles, on-site hydrogen production and fueling, on-site fuel cell vehicle maintenance, extensive evaluation, outreach and education, and safety training.

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California’s First Rural Hydrogen Station Debuts

Hydrogen fueling station dedication.

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).

Three years of effort at SERC culminated on a sunny September 4 with the opening ceremony for our newly completed hydrogen fueling station on the Humboldt State University campus. On hand for the ceremony were Congress member Mike Thompson, representatives of local government, a wide cross section of the campus community, and many camera- and notebook-toting reporters.

The project originated with a design for a hydrogen power park by HSU engineering students that garnered grand prize in an international competition in 2005. Since then, SERC has worked with numerous partners to make the station happen. Many members of the original student team were on hand at the ceremony to see their dream come to fruition.

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HSU Hydrogen Fueling Station

The construction and installation phases of the hydrogen fueling station are complete

Hydrogen fueling station dedication.

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.