SimpleFuel Earns $1 Million Prize for Home Hydrogen Refueling Station
However, if we could find a way to produce zero-carbon hydrogen, there would be no reason hydrogen FCVs couldn’t replace electric cars as the automobiles of the future.
Thanks to a small group named SimpleFuel, we may already have a glimpse at what that looks like. The team was awarded a $1 million prize by the U.S. Department of Energy for building a hydrogen home-fueling station that emits nothing but oxygen.
The H2 Refuel H-Prize prize had been announced back in November 2014 to “challenge America’s innovators to deploy an on-site hydrogen generation system, using electricity or natural gas, to fuel hydrogen vehicles, that can be used in homes, community centers, small businesses, or similar locations.”
— Energy Department (@ENERGY) June 8, 2016
The station is an eight-foot tall box that uses a home’s electricity supply to electrolyze water, storing the hydrogen into a 5 kg carbon-fiber tank while venting the oxygen into the atmosphere. That makes it a zero-carbon method of producing hydrogen assuming the home’s electricity comes from a renewable generation source.
According to SimpleFuel, a 1 kg refill takes under 15 minutes (for comparison, a 2017 Toyota Mirai FCV holds 5 kg of fuel to go about 312 miles). That makes it slower than the refueling stations you can find around California, where a Mirai can complete a fill-up in under five minutes, but perfectly usable for home use where the vehicle can simply refuel overnight.
It’s early days yet to assess the widespread viability of such a station or how much it would cost to install, but it does show that producing hydrogen is possible without having to resort to pulling it out of methane.