Hyundai's hydrogen powered SUV. Photo courtesy of Hyundai

Hyundai's hydrogen powered SUV.
Photo courtesy of Hyundai

The California Energy Commission (CEC) has awarded hydrogen fueling station developer Hydrogen Frontier, Inc. a $3 million grant to build a new 100 percent renewable hydrogen fueling station for fuel cell electric vehicles at Hyundai's hydrogen energy generation and fueling station in Chino, Calif. 

According to Hyundai Motor America, the project will include:

  • 100 percent of the energy consumed in generation and operation of the station and 100 percent of the fuel dispensed will come from a renewable source, a new path of innovation and sustainability in California.
  • Energy used to create hydrogen will be purchased from a renewable energy provider.
  • With this upgrade, the station will be able to produce at least 100 kilograms of hydrogen per day, enough to dispense approximately 6,000 to 9,000 vehicle fill-ups with hydrogen annually.
  • Capability to produce hydrogen from the electrolysis of water on site.
  • System pressures of 350 Bar and 700 Bar will allow fueling of all fuel cell vehicles (FCV) including fast refueling.

The station, situated at a testing facility for Hyundai America Technical Center, Inc., will be located at the site of an existing hydrogen station originally constructed in 2005 to support Hyundai's fuel cell vehicle fleet. On top of the $3 million rebuilding project funded by the CEC grant, an additional $1.7 million funded by partners Hydrogen Frontier Inc., Powertech, and ITM Power will go toward modernizing the facility to meet the latest industry standards for hydrogen generation, storage, and dispensing.

The required completion date for the renovations is October 2014, at which point the fueling station will open to the public for the first time. The facility will increase the existing hydrogen fueling network in California and will be the first publicly accessible hydrogen fueling station in San Bernardino County. according to Hyundai. The California Fuel Cell Partnership provides a list of hydrogen fueling stations.

Production of the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell began at the company's Ulsan manufacturing plant in Korea in January 2013, making Hyundai the first automaker to begin commercial production of a hydrogen-powered vehicle, according to Hyundai. The first complete car rolled off the assembly line on February 26, 2013. Hyundai is investigating potential demand for the Tucson Fuel Cell Vehicle in the U.S. market, particularly in California, where most of the hydrogen refueling infrastructure development has taken place.

"This was our first hydrogen station in 2005 that we were asked to contribute to. Now, less than 10 years later, we get to do a complete comprehensive update of that same site," said Daniel Poppe, vice president of Hydrogen Frontier, Inc.

Hyundai has researched hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles in the United States since 2000. It is a member of the California Fuel Cell Partnership and has conducted fleet testing of three generations of SUV-based hydrogen vehicles across the United States.

Hydrogen fuel cells use hydrogen to create electricity which powers the electric-drive vehicles. The development of fueling stations, such as the Chino facility, is crucial to the success of fuel cells in the marketplace, according to Hyundai. In California today, there are eight public stations, and 17 more are in development. The goal is to have 68 stations in place to support the larger rollout of the vehicles in the next few years.