19 November 2002 – An important step toward developing infrastructure to enable the United States to progress to a hydrogen economy was taken in Las Vegas, Nevada Friday. The world’s first hydrogen energy station featuring the co-production of hydrogen fuel and electric power was formally dedicated and is operational, generating hydrogen on-site that is utilized both to fuel vehicles and produce electricity.
The project, a public-private partnership between the United States Department of Energy (DOE), the City of Las Vegas, Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. and Plug Power, Inc., will serve as a commercial demonstration of hydrogen as a safe and clean energy alternative.
“This station is helping to usher in a new era of sustainable fuel production in this country and the world,” said David Garman, DOE’s Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “While there are yet technological barriers to cross, this refuelling station demonstrates hydrogen’s promise as a clean energy alternative to fuel vehicles and to produce power.”
“This is an exciting day and a tremendous accomplishment for all parties involved to formally recognize that the world’s first energy station for the co-production of hydrogen fuel and electric power is fully operational,” said Art Katsaros, group vice president-Engineered Systems and Development for Air Products. “Air Products has a deep commitment to, and a long history of, finding solutions to energy and environmental challenges. We are prepared to play a vital role in developing hydrogen infrastructure and helping to enable the commercial introduction of fuel cell technology. Environmental, political and market forces are converging to make the transformation to a hydrogen economy a reality.” Air Products is the world’s leading industrial hydrogen supplier.
Hydrogen is the energy carrier for both the fuelling of vehicles and for generating electrical energy. The Energy Station’s hydrogen generator produces hydrogen through the reforming, or processing and purification of natural gas. This hydrogen is supplied to both a hydrogen product compression unit and the PEM (proton exchange membrane) fuel cell. The product compression unit compresses the hydrogen for gaseous storage to be used on demand for vehicle fuelling. The energy station is capable of dispensing fuel for both hydrogen vehicles and blended CNG/H2 (compressed natural gas/hydrogen) vehicles from separate dispensers. The PEM fuel cell system uses a hydrogen feedstock to combine hydrogen with atmospheric oxygen for the generation of electrical power. The electrical output from the 50-kilowatt fuel cell is supplied to the Las Vegas electrical grid system for general consumer use. This electricity provides enough power on a daily basis for about 30 homes.
“The integration of hydrogen generation and power generation at this station represents a clear step toward a future where these elements will become increasingly common,” said Roger Saillant, Plug Power’s President and CEO. “Fuel cells fit very well into this setting, illustrating the environmental benefits of clean power generation utilizing hydrogen.”
“The City of Las Vegas takes great pride in its leadership role as host of the first-ever integrated Hydrogen Energy Station,” said Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman. “We have an existing environmental commitment with our Clean Cities Program membership, and showcasing this developing technology on a daily basis is a natural and appropriate extension of that environmental commitment.”
The $10.8 million, five-year demonstration project included the base research and development of new technology required for the manufacturing and installation of the physical equipment at the Energy Station. This state-of- the-art equipment included the development of a small-scale hydrogen generator, and the further development of a stationary fuel cell power system. The program also included the design, construction and operation of the hydrogen facility. These costs were split equally under a co-operative agreement between Air Products and DOE. The Air Products team, which included Plug Power, a New York-based stationary fuel cell manufacturer, and City of Las Vegas, was responsible for the research, development, design, construction and operation of the hydrogen facility. Under a separate, complementary project, DOE is sharing the cost of converting vehicles for use with hydrogen or hydrogen-enriched natural gas and plans, along with the City of Las Vegas, to use the new hydrogen station for refuelling. The Air Products integrated hydrogen generator was supported by key subcomponent suppliers including Harvest Energy Technologies (Los Angeles, Calif.), providing a fuel processor and the cooperative assembly of the generator; and QuestAir Technologies (Burnaby, B.C., Canada), providing hydrogen purification equipment.
Speakers from public and private entities today talked about this hydrogen energy station as a benchmark for future natural gas-based hydrogen production systems and guests toured the new facility. On display was the hydrogen enriched natural gas F150 truck developed in partnership between DOE and NRG Technologies, Inc., based in Reno. Also on display were hydrogen fuel cell vehicles from Ford Motor Co. and Toyota.
Hydrogen is an abundant, efficient, renewable and non-polluting fuel. Before hydrogen can be made widely available to consumers for use as a fuel, infrastructure issues must be addressed. Every day, millions of pounds of hydrogen are safely used by hundreds of industries throughout the United States and globally. The potential use of hydrogen as a method for delivering energy for both stationary and mobile applications is real. Utilizing hydrogen as a fuel has environmental benefits and increases U.S. energy security.
Air Products serves customers in technology, energy, healthcare and industrial markets worldwide with a unique portfolio of products, services and solutions, providing atmospheric gases, process and speciality gases, performance materials and chemical intermediates. The company is the largest global supplier of electronic materials, hydrogen, helium and select performance chemicals. Founded in 1940, Air Products is recognized for its innovative culture, operational excellence and commitment to safety and the environment. With annual revenues of $5.4 billion and operations in 30 countries, the company’s 17,500 employees build lasting relationships with their customers and communities based on understanding, integrity and passion. For more information, visit www.airproducts.com.