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Air Products, one of the leaders in hydrogen fueling technology, have just announced the official opening of the world’s first fuel cell and hydrogen energy station in Orange County, California. Inaugurated today, the station is unlike any other built before, in that it draws from a nearby wastewater plant to not only sustain itself, but to also power hydrogen vehicles.
Methane emitted from the Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD) wastewater facility is now being converted into hydrogen to not only power fuel cell vehicles, but also serve as a sustainable source of electricity and heat for the facilities themselves. Methane from the plant feeds into a state of the art fuel cell built by FuelCell Energy, Inc., where it is then re-formed to hydrogen.
In the fuel cell, clean electricity and heat are produced and used for the OCSD facilities. All of the leftover hydrogen not converted, is further purified to make fuel cell vehicle power. This program produces enough hydrogen to generate 250 kilowatts of electricity a day for the plant and to fuel 25 to 50 fuel cell vehicles.
Professor Scott Samuelsen, director of the National Fuel Cell Research Center at UC Irvine says, “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.”
As the program provides electricity, heat, power, and fuel from one of the formerly most wasteful sources, it truly sets an forward-thinking example for industry titans operating in sectors such as agriculture, food and brewery production, as well as landfill gas.