|The concept of the hydrogen station. Click to enlarge.|
The Las Vegas Valley Water District (LVVWD), in partnership with the UNLV Research Foundation, dedicated a pilot hydrogen refueling station that operates on solar power.
Solar panels produce the electricity for a Proton Energy Systems electrolyzer that generates up to 12 kg of hydrogen per day, to be used to fuel two vehicles in the LVVWD fleet. The first is a Polaris Ranger internal combustion utility vehicle that has been converted to hydrogen fuel, and the second, a Taylor-Dunn converted electric truck that runs on a hydrogen fuel cell.
This project is just one example of the Water District’s commitment to becoming a leader in incorporating sustainable practices into all aspects of its operations. Our goal is to become a 100-percent alternative-fueled fleet by 2015.—Richard Wimmer, LVVWD Deputy General Manager
Alternative-fuel vehicles, including gas/electric hybrids and those utilizing compressed natural gas (CNG) and biodiesel, currently constitute 77% of the LVVWD’s fleet.
Wimmer said the LVVWD is planning to add a hydrogen-powered pickup truck to its fleet by the end of 2007. Plans also call for the addition of a hydrogen-dedicated car the following year. The refueling facility also will function as a laboratory for the UNLV Center for Energy Research in order to further refine and enhance hydrogen fuel technology.
The DOE funded the bulk of the hydrogen station project’s research and development as well as the construction costs through a grant to the UNLV Research Foundation. Other partners include Nevada Power Company, which provided electrical upgrades for the station along with incentives that partially fund the solar array.
The project involves 13 public and private entities. Future collaborations will emerge with the LVVWD’s ability to provide an alternative fueling location for the City of Las Vegas to fuel its hydrogen vehicles.
The project is part of a multi-faceted research project that received $12 million in research and development funding from the Department of Energy. An additional $4 million was contributed in matching funds. Other components of the project include a hydrogen safety workshop; a hydrogen road-mapping exercise for Nevada; research into the production of hydrogen using photoelectric chemistry; and improvements on membrane and electrolyzer performance and efficiency. (Earlier post.)