A Message from the Director

AJ headshot 3We have completed the transition from summer to fall here in far northern California, and – while it has been clear and sunny for the past few days – we recently had the first heavy rainstorm of the season. As the seasons change, we remain busy at SERC with a diverse portfolio of clean energy projects. The selection of articles in this newsletter reflects this diversity.

In the lead article, Richard Engel reports on a project that is in line with our broader work aimed at enabling energy access in off-grid areas ranging from South Asia to East Africa. We are also happy to report on recent progress in our biomass energy collaboration with Renewable Fuel Technologies (RFT). We look forward to deepening our work with RFT and others in the field as we expand our efforts in this arena.

Several other articles reflect our long tradition of work related to clean transportation. We were pleased to be in a position to fuel the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle that SERC alum Anand Gopal and his wife Liz Pimentel drove up from the Bay Area. We hope this event will be the first of many such occurrences made possible by our hydrogen vehicle fueling station.

We are also pleased to extend our plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) charging infrastructure planning work from California to India. The work in New Delhi, which involves collaboration with Anand Gopal and colleagues from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, will require analysis in a new and complex setting involving very different driving patterns and electricity infrastructure. We at SERC always like to get involved in new and challenging work, and we hope to contribute meaningfully to the wider effort to enable cleaner transportation systems in New Delhi and beyond.

I will close by welcoming several new members to the SERC team. This August, Nick Bryant of Washington state and Amit Khare of New Delhi, India started work at SERC. They are also pursuing master’s degrees in the Energy Technology and Policy (ETaP) program here at HSU. We also have three additions to our docent team, including Yaad Rana, Onomewerike “Robo” Okumo, and Jake Coniglione. All are undergraduate students in the Environmental Resources Engineering program. It is great to have these students on board.

The 700 bar Hydrogen Fueling System is in Service

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.

refueling

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.