8 Technologies to Save the World [01] Home Hydrogen Fueling Station

9 02 2007

What could be cooler - or greener - than a hydrogen car in your driveway? Try a solar-powered hydrogen fueling station in your garage. Scientists in Melbourne, Australia, have developed a prototype of such a device. It’s about the size of a filing cabinet and runs on electricity generated by standard-issue rooftop solar panels.
Hydrogen car garage
The first version of the home fueling station is expected to produce enough hydrogen to give your runabout a range of some 100 miles without emitting a molecule of planet-warming greenhouse gas. Road trips are out of the question, but it’s enough juice for running suburban errands or powering fleets of urban delivery trucks.

“You don’t need a hydrogen infrastructure to introduce the hydrogen economy,” says Sukhvinder Badwal, a veteran fuel-cell scientist leading the project at Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.

The solar-fired fuel-station-in-a-box leapfrogs two big obstacles to the much-hyped hydrogen economy. One is the multibillion-dollar expense of building national networks of pipelines and fuel stations to replace the corner Chevron.

The other is the fact that today most hydrogen is produced by burning fossil fuel to create hydrogen gas - not exactly a clean and green process. The home hydrogen fuel station solves those problems in one package that Badwal hopes will ultimately sell for about $500.

The heart of the fuel station is an electrolyzer - essentially a fuel cell run in reverse. An electric current from solar panels (a home wind turbine would also do the job) separates water into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen is compressed and stored, ready for use in a fuel-cell car or an electric/hydrogen hybrid with an engine converted to run on the gas.

CSIRO is in talks with potential commercial partners, so Badwal’s lab is off-limits to visitors. But on his computer screen, he reveals a box that would fit easily in the corner of a garage next to the mountain bikes.

Real-world tests of the home fueling system were to begin early this year at RMIT University in Melbourne, with commercial trials two years off. Obstacles remain, including the cost of hydrogen cars, but the technology could go a long way to making the family wagon carbon-neutral. (Read more about home hydrogen fueling stations on the Green Wombat Blog).


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One response to “8 Technologies to Save the World [01] Home Hydrogen Fueling Station”

10 02 2007
Alex Shalman (11:18:38) :

Saving the economy and ultimately saving a few bucks. Sounds like a hit.

One thing though… don’t these hydrogen stations have a tendency to explode? Not exactly something you want right in your garage..

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