The U.S. does not seem to have many “firsts” these days; but when the U.S. does theses “firsts,” they tend to spring up in California. So, it comes as little surprise that the world’s first hydrogen fuel plant to use wastewater as a means to sustain itself and supply power to hydrogen vehicles is located in Orange County, California.
One of the leaders in hydrogen technology, Air Products, has just opened the unique hydrogen fueling station in Orange County. Other hydrogen fueling stations do exist, but what set this station apart is the source of the power. Methane that is emitted for the Orange County Sanitation District Wastewater Facility is converted into hydrogen by this special station. That hydrogen is then used to power fuel cell vehicles as well as to generate electricity and heat for the station’s own facilities. Professor Scott Samuelsen the director of the National Fuel Cell Research Center at UC Irvine said
This is the epitome of sustainability by taking a human waste and transforming it into electricity we need, transportation fuel we need, as well as thermal product heat that could serve the process of transforming the feed waste into productive products.
The methane for the wastewater plant is re formed into hydrogen using a state of the art fuel cell that was manufactured by FuelCell Energy Inc. The station, using the special fuel cell, produces enough hydrogen to generate 250 kilowatts of electricity a day and to fuel 25 – 50 fuel cell vehicles. That may not sound like many vehicles; however, given the low number of hydrogen powered vehicles on the road today, it gets the job done.
Air Products is the leading global supplier of hydrogen to refineries. The company uses varied fueling applications to provide an opportunity to assess consumer experiences, evaluate product performance, and advance product improvements. To date, in certain markets, fueling rates at several individual sites are over 15,000 refills per year.
Air Products has placed over 130 hydrogen fueling stations in the United States (11 operational stations in California alone) and 19 countries worldwide. Cars, trucks, vans, buses, scooters, forklifts, locomotives, planes, cell towers, material handling equipment, and even submarines have been fueled with technologies that involve Air Products’ know how, equipment, and hydrogen. Use of the company’s technology is increasing and is currently over 350,000 hydrogen fills per year.
For people who do not think that hydrogen power is a feasible reality, they need to open their eyes and look at companies like Air Power and states like California.
Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. Being an Eagle Scout, Andrew has a passion for all things environmental. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail.