One of the main barriers to the widespread adoption of fuel cell vehicles has been the lack of an adequate hydrogen-refueling infrastructure. Beyond a handful of hydrogen stations, such as the one near Los Angeles International Airport, there just isn’t anywhere to fill up.
This has resulted in a kind of chicken-and-egg situation, where car companies, such as fuel-cell pioneers Honda, are reluctant to mass-produce hydrogen-powered cars until a comprehensive refueling system is established, and infrastructure providers won’t move until there are enough cars to make stations economically viable.
Step forward ITM Power, a UK company that has developed a hydrogen refueling station that could be installed at home, providing a ready-made solution for fuel-cell car owners.
The station works via an electrolyser, which produces the gas from water and electricity, providing enough hydrogen overnight to fuel a 25 mile journey. If required, the unit, which has been tested on a converted Ford Focus, can also convert the gas back into electricity for use in the home.
According to Chief Executive Jim Heathcote, the unit, which is currently only a prototype, could be produced on a commercial scale by the end of the year, at an initial cost of £2,000 (around $4,000). He also anticipates that home-based systems could eventually be supplemented by more powerful stations in public places, capable of producing enough hydrogen for a 100 mile journey.
Speaking at a showcase launch event in Sheffield he said, “Given the pressing need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, especially oil, and to cut CO2 emissions, the future for hydrogen as an alternative means of storing and utilising energy cost-effectively has never been brighter.”
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Image Credit – ITM Power