Humboldt State University

Schatz Energy Research Center

Renewable Hydrogen Transportation

The Schatz Hydrogen Generation building with a blue sky.

The Schatz Hydrogen Generation Center.

The Palm Desert Renewable Hydrogen Transportation Project demonstrated a clean and sustainable transportation system for a community. The project displayed the practical utility of hydrogen as a transportation fuel and the proton exchange membrane fuel cell as a vehicle power system.

The Palm Desert Renewable Hydrogen Transportation Project encompasses the entire cycle from energy production to end-use (transportation). A solar array generates electricity to run an electrolyzer, which produces hydrogen from water. The hydrogen is compressed and pumped to a refueling station for use in fuel cell-powered vehicles.

Hydrogen and oxygen bubbler chambers.

Schatz Hydrogen Generation Center

Located at SunLine Transit Agency in Thousand Palms, California, the Schatz Hydrogen Generation Center was designed to be a complete hydrogen production, compression, storage, and dispensing facility. The facility provided compressed hydrogen at 3600 psig for use in the SERC hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicle fleet (fact sheet PDF; 328K) operated by SunLine Transit and the City of Palm Desert. The hydrogen generation center was designed and installed by SERC engineers and is operated and maintained by SunLine Transit personnel.

These facilities were designed with an aim toward technology demonstration and public education. Solar electric arrays that were installed at SunLine concurrently with the Hydrogen Generation Center provide up to 38 kW of power, more than enough to operate the Schatz system. Interpretive signs and large windows on the hydrogen generation building allow visitors to see the technology in action and understand how it works.

A large array of solar panels.

Hydrogen generation equipment is powered by this 16.2-kW solar array.

Fuel Cell Vehicles

During the 1990s, SERC converted a number of small battery-electric passenger vehicles to operate on fuel cell power. These were the first street licensed PEM fuel cell vehicles in the U.S. They received a lot of media attention and helped pave the way for today’s large-scale fuel cell vehicle development programs by major auto manufacturers.

View the NEV and PUV fact sheet (PDF; 328K).

A panel of gauges under a canopy for refueling hydrogen vehicles.

The hydrogen fueling station.

Two men refueling a small fuel cell vehicle.

Refueling SERC’s Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV) at the hydrogen fueling station.

A group of SERC engineers walk along a sunny parade route alongside a fuel cell powered golf cart.

SERC’s Personal Utility Vehicle (PUV) debuts at the Palm Desert Electric Vehicle Parade, Palm Desert, CA, November 1995.