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West Virginia Univ. receives $1.15M grant for second hydrogen production-fueling station in state; focus on fossil-fuel-to-hydrogen

The National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium at West Virginia University (WVU) has received a $1.15-million grant to develop the state’s second hydrogen production-fueling station. The station, to be located near Bicentennial House on Mileground Road, will be the northern terminus of a “hydrogen highway” between Yeager Airport in Charleston and Morgantown.

By building and operating a new hydrogen fueling station in Morgantown, West Virginia University will demonstrate running automobiles on hydrogen fuel made from coal-powered electricity.

The US Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory recently awarded NAFTC the competitive grant to develop and install equipment to produce and dispense hydrogen fuel along with a detailed testing and evaluation program. The program is part of the WVU’s Advanced Energy Initiative.

Curt M. Peterson, WVU vice president for Research and Economic Development, said the program will educate target audiences, beginning first in West Virginia, about the safe use of hydrogen and the potential for fossil fuel-to-hydrogen programs of NETL.

The effort is unique in that it will support obtaining hydrogen fuel by using domestic fossil energy. NETL envisions that in the long term, hydrogen will either be produced from coal, or coal will provide the electricity necessary for the production of hydrogen via electrolysis. Ultimately, the program could not only make hydrogen acceptable to the citizens of West Virginia, it could make West Virginia a leader in the use of hydrogen. The program could then be duplicated in other areas.

—Al Ebron, executive director of the NAFTC

The facility will produce the hydrogen via electrolysis. The resulting hydrogen will be stored as a gas at a pressure of up to 5,000 psi (345 bar). It will then be piped to a fueling pump.

Funding for the one-year award began 1 Oct. and will continue through 30 Sept. 2011. An anticipated second phase of the project will provide follow-on funding to complete the station and purchase hydrogen test vehicles. The total amount of the project, including $288,500 in cost share, is $1.4 million.

Phase one funding for the project will enable:

  • Site survey and site preparation;
  • Purchase and installation of a building and weather cover to house the hydrogen fuel dispensing station; and
  • Procurement of an electrolyzer, buffer tank and chiller; a compressor; high-pressure storage composite tanks; electrical equipment and lighting; and grounding and lightning protection.

NAFTC is the nation’s only alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicle training organization, providing training infrastructure for implementing widespread use of alternative fuels, alternative fuel vehicles and advanced technology vehicles. The effort is focused on increasing America’s energy security, lessening its dependence on petroleum and improving air quality by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transportation systems.

NAFTC is a program of West Virginia University and consists of National Training Centers located nationwide from Maine to California.



Burn coal to produce electricity....to produce hydrogen. That's one very good one? What else will we do next?


Coal plants are silly anyway. And they are burning coal continuously anyway (enough to provide peak-power), so at night they are producing more electricity than needed anyway. This electricity is wasted today.
So, coal to hydrogen by itself is absurd, but because of the reality today, it makes sense to 'recover' some of the energy in this lost electricity and produce H2 with it.
In the long run, these fueling stations use electricity (wherever this electricity may come from).
With the advent of renewables and nuclear, we will have even more 'waste' electricity' that can be recycled into H2.
Coal is stupid, but recovering some lost electricity isn't.


A good point Alain. One could wonder if the local stations would take time to find if the electricity they use to produce Hydrogen is produced during peak demand hours or not? We have not been educated to know the difference.


You could turn coal into hydrogen or you could turn it into electric power and then hydrogen. Coal has too much carbon, so I would not recommend either.

I looked up coal base load production and it seems that they keep firing the plant at night at the same rate even if grid demand is down. They might take gas turbines offline, but that does little to reduce pollution.

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