London to introduce new Ulta Low Emission Discount for Congestion Charge scheme; countering dieselization
Honda and Ford separately launching smart home demos

US DOE seeking input on home hydrogen refueler systems

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a Request for Information (RFI) (DE-FOA-0000907) for home hydrogen refueler system status and future needs. These systems would be designed to produce hydrogen applicable to residential settings for vehicle fueling, using feedstocks with an existing residential delivery infrastructure.

DOE is seeking to understand the current status of home hydrogen refueler systems and future needs relevant to a possible H-Prize (earlier post) topic consistent with the Energy Independence Security Act of 2007 to incentivize innovative advances in the field of hydrogen energy technologies. The potential prize award would be $1 million.

Systems of interest would provide supplemental hydrogen for vehicle fueling at single- or multi-family dwellings. These systems would be installed in residential locations using feedstocks commonly delivered to most residences (e.g., electricity and natural gas). The system physical size and safety requirement must be appropriate for a residential setting. Information regarding individual components of the systems are of interest, but responses regarding complete systems (including the hydrogen generation technology and the components required for refueling, including compression and filling equipment) are of particular interest. Technologies in all stages of development are of interest.

The H-Prize was established by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, and authorized the Secretary of Energy to competitively award prizes for advances in hydrogen energy technologies. The purpose of the H-Prize is to accelerate the research, development, demonstration, and commercial application of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies by offering prizes to motivate and reward outstanding scientific and engineering advancements. The H-Prize is currently administered by the Hydrogen Education Foundation (HEF) for the Department of Energy.



The policy and funding vector that will most likely enable H2 as an EV/P(H)EV range extender is residential refueling. Reformers and more sophisticated H2 source systems for appliances and other single- and multi-family home amenities have been available in Japan and Scandinavia for years with estimates in the thousands (though some sources even mentioned a million units had access). Also, Honda has been promoting FCVs and home refueling station combos for over 5 years. Hydrogen can offer that storage capacity to bridge intermittent local and grid sources of energy with more traditional grid and network sources (even bio sources). Possible extension to home heating and other appliances possible as part of a whole home solution. Multi-unit systems may be more complicated. Hopefully, industry won't drag its feet on standards, compatibility, and options.


So how much would a home hydrogen reformer add to your natural gas bill?
At 30 miles a day then less than 1/2kg of hydrogen would be used (Toyota FCEV 68.3 mpge)
That comes to around 16kwh.
At a notional 70% reforming efficiency we are talking in the area of 23kwh worth of natural gas, which is handy as it would mean an energy flow of 1kw.

The average US home uses around 75,000cu ft of natural gas per year:

At 1000BTU's per cu foot that is an energy flow of around 2.5kw.

From the same link residential use accounts for 21% of total natural gas use in the US.

On average US households have around two cars per household, so converting to using hydrogen would about double residential NG use or increase total use by 20%.

The same PEM technology though would be used to power the home electricity and provide hot water from the otherwise waste heat, upping the generating efficiency from the present 33% or so from central generation of electricity.

So the US light vehicle fleet could be run without oil without increasing natural gas use significantly.

The use of plug in hybrid fuel cell cars in many areas using solar for the electric component would further reduce NG use.


though, i am skeptical that hydrogen would be a cost-effective source to provide the equivalent of an 80 to 200 amp supply typical to a residential house-size electric system. Hydrogen back-up power (hospitals, labs, etc.) is ridiculous expensive, cumbersome, and prone to constant maintenance and inspection.
Though, compelling co-generation graphic at:


There are already tens of thousands of home units providing electricity in Japan.
Costs are high, but are on a rapid reduction curve, and look like being competitive in 4 or 5 years.
Germany is also getting serious about installing them, and the UK in social housing is making a start.


"... tens of thousands of home units providing electricity in Japan..."
Of course - per my original comment, above.
My point is that the electricity is not completely provided by the fuel cell/co-generation home system. More an engineering issue than a cost issue. There is likely required support from the utility (or solar or wind, i suppose). See:
Note this is a japanese household, where I would posit that electrical demand is less than EU/US. I am optimistic and believe the concept is sound though.
Further, be aware that the 'quality' of hydrogen (likely) used within a car-board fuel cell is different than that generally used on home fuel cell systems.


Hi Jer.
I was using ball park figures.
In reality of course things are more complicated, with both the Japanese and the Germans going for linked local grids in the Enefield concept.

The amount of electrical power outputted also varies according to the fuel cell chemistry used, with SOFC cells as well as PEMs.
More here:

Many regions will also be feeding in solar, wind, hydropower and nuclear, so the one household as an autonomous unit I roughed my figures on is not going to happen.

I feel that the general conclusion remains, that private transport could run on hydrogen from fuel cells with very modest increments of natural gas, and that conclusion is in fact strengthened by the fact that it will actually be supplemented by all sorts of other sources.

The comments to this entry are closed.