GM and Hawaii Gas Company to Collaborate on Hydrogen Infrastructure Pilot; Different Approach to Provisioning Fueling Stations
11 May 2010
|TGC infrastructure follows the populated core on Oahu. Click to enlarge.|
General Motors and Hawaii’s The Gas Company (TGC), the state’s major gas energy provider, are collaborating on a hydrogen infrastructure project.
TGC produces hydrogen along with synthetic natural gas and delivers it in its utility gas stream, with more than 5% hydrogen content today; it has the capability of producing more H2 through its renewable biogas initiative. TGC plans to tap into its 1,000-mile utility pipeline system at key locations to separate the hydrogen from the stream through Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) technology for use by local fueling stations for fuel cell vehicles.
The cost of deploying a PSA system and associated refueling pump at a fueling stations will be on the order of $300,000 to $500,000, said Jeff Kissel, president and CEO of TGC during a briefing on the announcement—about one-quarter of the cost of currently installing a more conventional hydrogen fueling station in the US.
This is the type of enabler that a hydrogen transportation infrastructure needs because it addresses both the source of the hydrogen and a feasible way to deliver it for fuel cell vehicle use. The Hawaii infrastructure could eventually support tens of thousands of fuel cell vehicles. Hawaii is uniquely positioned and motivated to make hydrogen-powered fuel cell transportation a reality because it depends on imported petroleum for 90 percent of its energy.
—Charles Freese, executive director of GM Global Fuel Cell Activities
|Hawaii Energy Challenges|
TGC will file a tariff with the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission to establish the cost of hydrogen for the retail dispenser. “Based on what we know today,” said Kissel, “we believe that the cost of the fuel will be comparable to gasoline on a per mile driven basis. A lot will depend upon the retail markup.
TGC H2 Production. The Gas Company currently produces synthetic natural gas from naptha and hydrogen, will plans to include plant oils and animal fats as feedstocks in the future. It has the ability to make excess hydrogen from the process and add to the gas stream. Currently, TGC has the capacity to produce 7,000 gasoline gallons equivalent of hydrogen per day, an amount it expects it can approximately double.
|PSA technology. Click to enlarge.|
PSA technology is based on the different properties of two the gases (methane and hydrogen) under pressure. The methane will stick to a catalyst bed, while the hydrogen will pass through and can be taken off at the station. Release the pressure, and the methane is returned to the system and returned to consumers.
PSA technology is well-established, and TGC is evaluating systems from several potential suppliers, Kissel said.
The state, via the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, is committed to reducing petroleum use by 70% within a generation through a combination of renewable energy resources, conservation and efficiency. The use of hydrogen as a transportation fuel could be a key contributor.
We have been delivering as much as 12 percent hydrogen made from renewable sources to our gas customers over the last two to three years and expect we can deliver even greater quantities of hydrogen as demand increases.
Fuel cell vehicles. GM, which has invested more than $1.5 billion in fuel cell transportation in the last 15 years, is developing a production-intent fuel cell system that could be ready for commercialization in 2015. (Earlier post.) Current Chevrolet Fuel Cell vehicles are part of Project Driveway, the world's largest demonstration of fuel cell vehicles, which has amassed nearly 1.4 million miles of real-world driving by thousands of people since 2007.
Freese said that GM was looking at initially bringing over a few of the Project Driveway vehicles to work with the new infrastructure, followed by further vehicles as the infrastructure develops.
The GM-TGC collaboration is a component of a broad consortium of federal and state, non-profit and education organizations that is forming to develop a Hawaii Hydrogen Initiative as part of an integrated energy solution.
We want to gain Federal and State attention. More importantly, Hawaii is the canary in the coal mine. What’s happening here [in terms of energy prices] is happening elsewhere in the world. The US is enjoying a reprieve from high oil prices in form of abundant natural gas. That’s a reprieve, not a pardon.
The Gas Company LLC has been in business since 1904 and has a workforce of 300. It provides clean, reliable and energy-efficient gas to residential, business and government customers throughout the state of Hawaii: Oahu, Maui, Hawaii, Kauai, Molokai and Lanai. TGC manufactures synthetic natural gas (SNG) and hydrogen at its high-capacity plant located on Oahu for delivery through a pipeline network, and supplies propane gas (LPG) statewide.
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