FOUNTAIN VALLEY, CA – A fuel cell and hydrogen energy station was unveiled Aug. 16 at the Orange County Sanitation District’s wastewater treatment plant in Fountain Valley, Calif.
Drivers of select hydrogen-fueled cars can now exit the 405 Freeway at Euclid Avenue and fill up at the station with hydrogen fuel converted from sewage waste. The fuel offers the equivalent of 70 miles per gallon.
The project converts wastewater to hydrogen, electricity and heat. The hydrogen produced by the system is sent to a hydrogen fueling station that can support 25-50 fuel-cell electric vehicle fill-ups per day. The fuel cell also produces power for use by the wastewater treatment plant.
“Innovations like this demonstrate how American ingenuity and targeted investment can accelerate breakthroughs in the hydrogen and fuel cell industry while driving the clean energy economy forward,” said Steve Chalk, the U.S. Department of Energy’s deputy assistant secretary for renewable energy.
The tri-generation fuel cell and hydrogen energy station uses biogas from the municipal wastewater treatment plant as the fuel for a fuel cell. The system is integrated with a hydrogen purification system to recover about 100 kg of hydrogen per day.
The project was designed by, and is managed by, Air Products & Chemicals Inc., FuelCell Energy Inc. and the National Fuel Cell Research Center at the University of California, Irvine.
“This will reduce smog and greenhouse gases and mean a better quality of life for Southern Californians,” said Jack Brouwer, associate director of the National Fuel Cell Research Center at UC Irvine.
The project was developed as a partnership among the U.S. Department of Energy, California Air Resources Board, the Orange County Sanitation District, and private industry.
Major automakers have announced plans to commercially manufacture hydrogen-fueled cars by 2015. The use of locally produced hydrogen will increase its supply, bring costs in line with other renewable energy sources, and provide highly efficient power, according to the UC Irvine’s National Fuel Cell Research Center.
“This is the epitome of sustainability, where we’re taking an endless stream of human waste and transforming it to transportation fuel and electricity,” said Scott Samuelsen, director of the National Fuel Cell Research Center. “This is the first time this has ever been done.”