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California state agencies “rolling out carpet” for hydrogen electric vehicles

California is rolling out the carpet for Californians who choose these ultra-clean hydrogen powered electric cars and for the companies that make them,” said Air Resources Board Chairman Mary D. Nichols.

California state agencies are collaborating on a range of initiatives to support the goal of 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2025. Last week, the California Energy Commission carried out one of these initiatives, voting to use nearly $50 million to put in place 28 new, public hydrogen refueling stations and one mobile refueler by the end of 2015. (Earlier post.)

The move was one of several actions designed to help achieve a key goal of the state’s zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) plan: to accelerate construction of hydrogen refueling infrastructure across the state.

These private-public partnerships to build dozens of hydrogen fueling stations set the stage for hydrogen fuel cell electric cars to become commonplace on our streets and provide a new generation of long-range zero-emission vehicles for California consumers.

—Chairman Nichols

Making the transition to cleaner, lower polluting near-zero and zero-emission vehicles is a critical component to addressing California’s clean air and climate challenges. The transportation sector accounts for about 40 percent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. We are pleased to be part of this state collaboration and will continue to work diligently on standing up hydrogen fuel cells and other electric vehicle technologies.

—Janea A. Scott, the California Energy Commission’s lead commissioner on transportation

In Silicon Valley, the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) and the California Fuel Cell Partnership held an in-depth workshop with local officials to discuss the deployment of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) and supporting hydrogen refueling infrastructure.

The state’s effort to bring more FCEVs to the road and the infrastructure to fuel them features support from Toyota, station developers, the Fuel Cell Partnership, the Air Resources Board, the California Energy Commission and GO-Biz.

GO-Biz brings hands-on experience cutting through red tape, which will be used to get stations permitted and constructed in a timely manner. The Air Resources Board and Energy Commission provide the longest running state-level experience in the country when it comes to hydrogen vehicle and infrastructure development.

Twenty hydrogen refueling stations have received funding from the Energy Commission and 28 more stations are scheduled:

  • First Element (19 stations in partnership with Toyota)
  • HyGen Industries (3 stations)
  • Linde, LLC (2 stations)
  • Air Liquide Industrial US LP (1 station)
  • ITM Power, Inc. (1 station)
  • Hydrogen Technology & Energy Corporation (1 station)
  • Ontario CNG Station, Inc. (1 station)
  • Institute of Gas Technology (1 mobile refueling station)

There are currently 10 operational hydrogen refueling stations in California—the most recent opened in May 2014 on the CSU Los Angeles campus. With the announcement of Energy Commission funding for additional stations, California is slated to have 51 public hydrogen refueling facilities on line by 2017.

Two-hundred-million dollars in cap-and-trade proceeds has been allocated for low-carbon transportation projects, $116 million of which is slated for the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project, providing up to $5,000 per vehicle.

To date the state has committed about $110 million to hydrogen infrastructure. This puts California on a glide path to 100 stations, the state’s goal for launching a commercially self-sustaining network to support a growing number of FCEVs.

The second initiative involves California joining two national programs organized by the U.S. Department of Energy to develop hydrogen infrastructure across the country.

First, the Hydrogen Fueling Infrastructure Research and Station Technology (H2FIRST) project is led by the Sandia Laboratories and the Department of Energy’s National Energy Renewable Laboratory. By focusing on the national laboratories’ core capabilities, the effort will speed and support the widespread deployment of FCEVs.

The H2FIRST project will complement California’s second national partnership, H2USA. This public-private partnership brings together automakers, government agencies, gas suppliers, and the hydrogen and fuel cell industries to coordinate research and identify cost-effective ways to deploy infrastructure that can deliver affordable, clean hydrogen fuel in the United States.

Another initiative has California working with other states to harmonize regulations and building codes to ease the location and construction of refueling stations for hydrogen and electric vehicles. An eight-state ZEV Action Plan released last month lays the foundation to coordinate efforts among California, New York, Maryland, Connecticut, Oregon, Massachusetts, Vermont and Rhode Island.

The goal of this collaborative effort is to put 3.3 million ZEVs on the highways in those states by 2025 with the goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality and public health, while enhancing energy diversity, saving consumers money and promoting economic growth.



Hydrogen stations are not the only things which cost money:

'A hidden hazard lurks beneath many of the roughly 156,000 gas stations across the United States.

The hazard is corrosion in parts of underground gas storage tanks -- corrosion that could result in failures, leaks and contamination of groundwater, a source of drinking water. In recent years, field inspectors in nine states have reported many rapidly corroding gas storage tank components such as sump pumps. These incidents are generally associated with use of gasoline-ethanol blends and the presence of bacteria, Acetobacter aceti, which convert ethanol to acetic acid, a component of vinegar.

Following up on the inspectors' findings, a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) laboratory study has demonstrated severe corrosion -- rapidly eating through 1 millimeter of wall thickness per year -- on steel alloy samples exposed to ethanol and acetic acid vapors. Based on this finding, NIST researchers suggest gas stations may need to replace submersible pump casings, typically made of steel or cast iron, sooner than expected. Such retrofits could cost an estimated $1,500 to $2,500 each, and there are more than 500,000 underground gas storage tanks around the country.'

That is a minimum of a billion or so to bring present petrol stations up to scratch in this respect.

Existing stations were largely built when toxic spills were discounted.

Hydrogen is non toxic, although of course in a large enough leak there is a fire hazard, but rarely explosive as the hydrogen tends to escape upwards instead of pooling on the ground as petrol does.


The U.S. government has a Leaking Tank Fund to clean some up, this has been happening for a long time. Congress has decided to loot that fund to pay for the recent highway bill, rather than index the gas tax to wholesale prices and inflation.


Im ready to look at the show starting soon, I hope it will be a big success and that it will have a lot of video on youtube showing hydrogen cars rolling on the roads and refueling in less than 5 minutes. I hope that they begin a hydrogen roll out in my area some day, I need to see it for myself. It's better in that website contrary to autobloggreen where there is a lot of hydrogen naysayer.


The decision isn't between petroleum and hydrogen.  The decision is between electric and hydrogen.  Electricity has neither explosion nor spill hazards.

This really needs to be chosen carefully, because hydrogen is most cheaply made via SMR, while electricity is cheaper from a variety of sources compared to even natural gas.  If SMR is used, producers will have a strong incentive to cheat on disposal and dump the CO2 to the atmosphere.


E-P has this one right guys. It's between H2 and EVs going forward.

The EVs will win. Sorry to my friends Davemart and gor, but to paraphrase Agent Smith: "That my friends, is the sound of inevitability"



Pissing away money for Greenwashing

Roger Pham

Folks, it's FreedomCAR ... finally comes to fruition,can you feel it...feel the freedom coming after 100 years of being fixated to fossil fuels...truly worthy of the red carpet rollout! Just FEEL...and do not think...for you will miss the full-force of fun and fervor...

300-mile range on just a 3-minute fillup on renewable more oil spills, pollution, oil wars, oil shocks...etc freedom from GHG release and GW and Climate Change...

Let's enjoy the Red carpet roll out...and another drum roll, please!!!


But Roger, hydrogen doesn't give you freedom from GHG release.  The low-cost producers are going to be methane reformers and possibly coal gasifiers, not wind or PV (or even nuclear).  They'll dump their CO2 if they can get away with it, because sequestration costs money; even then, there will be leaks.

A 120 kWh Tesla will have a range approaching 400 miles.  A Supercharger will be able to pump 200 miles into its battery in 30 minutes.  The electric has the advantage that one almost never needs to visit a filling (charging) station in normal use.  With charging at meal breaks and bathroom breaks, the difference in user experience on long trips will be tiny... and the elimination of chemical fuel means that carbon can be eliminated completely.


Large facilities making hydrogen from natural gas do not need to store the CO2, they make synthetic fuels out of it. The station not only sells hydrogen for cars, but synthetic gasoline for cars.


Which still puts the carbon into the atmosphere.

Really, I wish you could listen to yourself sometimes.


Now you have TWO vehicles transporting for one unit of carbon. You would have vented the carbon AND burnt one one unit for TWO units emitted, you also use natural gas instead of imported oil.

I really wish you would think before posting, then you might not seem so arrogant and stupid. Back to ignoring your idiocy.


Clarification on the previous post, the carbon part not the idiocy part. Octane is C8H18, since methane from natural gas is C4, you need more carbon.

For simplicity, let us say a gasoline car emits TWO units of carbon. Two gasoline cars would emit FOUR units of carbon. Now you are using natural gas, but since 1 in 1000 cars is powered by natural gas, it is more useful to make gasoline.

Now you have ONE car emitting NO carbon and ONE car emitting TWO units of carbon instead of two cars emitting FOUR units. Use the carbon twice, cut the emissions in half. It is equivalent to having two natural gas cars, but since few cars are natural gas, this is more useful.

Now you have TWO vehicles transporting for one unit of carbon. You would have vented the carbon AND burnt one one unit for TWO units emitted

stoichiometry [stoi-kee-om-i-tree] noun
1.  the calculation of the quantities of chemical elements or compounds involved in chemical reactions.
2.  the branch of chemistry dealing with relationships of combining elements, especially quantitatively.

Reducing carbon dioxide requires the removal of 2 atoms of oxygen.  If it is removed as H2O, each CO2 molecule requires 4 atoms of hydrogen plus whatever becomes part of the final product.  If the hydrogen is donated by methane and the product is an alkane of formula (CH2)n, 3 molecules of CH4 are required to reduce 1 molecule of CO2:
  3 CH4 + CO2 -> 2 H2O + 4 CH2

Saturated alkanes have the formula CnH(2n+2).  The stoichiometry of methane and CO2 would actually produce pentane, for a methane:CO2 ratio of 4:1.  And that's if you somehow input enough energy from other sources to do the reduction without having to discard energy from e.g. partial oxidation of methane to produce syngas.

In practice, this means that your ratio isn't 1 mole carbon recycled to 1 mole methane, it's 1 mole recycled to a minimum of 4 moles of methane.  And that, my innumerate friend, isn't remotely good enough to make it worthwhile.  We need an 80% reduction in carbon emissions, meaning we need to spec 100% in order to deal with the compromises; 20% is barely worth mentioning.

Roger Pham

The potential for GHG-free with FCEV or BEV are there. The steady decline in cost of RE will soon make it the energy source of choice.

it is quite a clever observation to use NG for both gasoline and H2 production. 8 molecules of CH4 will have 32H, while gasoline needs only 18H, leaving 12H to make 6 H2. I don't know what synthetic method for this, but if it will be more efficient than SMR, then quite a good idea.

Roger Pham

OK, here goes NG to Gasoline and H2 synthetic steps:

8CH4 + 8H2O ->SMR-> 8CO + 24H2
We only need 9H2 to make gasoline, and 8H2 to return as 8H2O at the end, leaving 7H2 available for
separation and stored separately as H2 output.
The 8CO and 9H2 will go on with F-T synthesis to make gasoline.

Does this combined process represent any efficiency gain over the 70%-efficient process of SMR? And the GTL process in which the excess H2 is oxidized into H2O?
In the SMR process, the Carbon is discarded, while in the GTL process, excess H2 is discarded.
The invested heat can be recycled for the next cycle, perhaps boosting overall efficiency more.

ere goes NG to Gasoline and H2 synthetic steps

Time to do an energy balance.  Heats of combustion:

H2:  286 kJ/mol
CH4:  889 kJ/mol
CO:  283 kJ/mol
H2O:  0

So to convert 8 moles of CH4 and H2O to 8 moles CO and 24 moles H2, the chemical energy in the reactants is 7112 kJ compared to 9128 kJ in the products.  That's a gain of 2016 kJ (252 kJ/mol CH4) which has to come from somewhere.  In SMR, it comes from partial oxidation of the methane input with consequent loss of carbon as CO2.

There ain't no free lunch.  I suggest to you that there's no way to make natural gas into a liquid fuel that emits less carbon than burning the natural gas directly.

Roger Pham

The end products of this combined synthesis are 1 mole of C8H18 (5358 kJ) and 7 moles of H2 (2000 kJ) = 7360 kJ, only slightly higher in energy content of 8 moles of CH4 (7112 kJ). The SMR process is endothermic, but the F-T process is exothermic, so more or less evens out. By contrast, SMR started with 1 mole of CH4 (889kJ) and ended with 4 moles of H2 (1114kJ), a difference of 256kJ/mole x 8 = 2040 kJ, thus requiring big input of energy and resulting in CO2 release.

This is of course ideal situation. Energy input may be higher in real life due to inefficiency of heat recuperation, losses in pumps and equipments, and losses during the purification steps of NG.

However, good chemical engineering can minimize these losses. For example, making steam out of water in the boiler for the SMR process consumes perhaps 15% of total energy budget. Instead, the steam byproduct of F-T can be collected and recycled back to the SMR process, thereby can improve the efficiency of SMR from 70% to 80-85%. SMR requires 1100 C at 25 bar, whereas F-T requires 300-400 C at a few bar of pressure. Thus, a turbine and heat recuperator can recycle these energy difference into outputs and further improve the efficiency of the process.

These are examples of efficiency gained and CO2 elimination by combining SMR together with F-T synthesis all in one plant whereby the heat, steam, and pressure energy can be recycled.

Roger Pham

One problem, though, is the high temp of SMR at 700-1100 C, while F-T is at 150-300 C, thus makes it hard to recycle the exothermic heat of F-T toward SMR. However, there is a report of catalyst that support SMR at 500 C, thus making it easier to recycle the 200 C heat release of F-T toward endothermic heat of SMR at 500 C, via heat pump?

However, the above mental exercise illustrates the root of the inefficiency of the process of GTL or CTL or BTL via gasification and F-T synthesis. I personally prefer a more efficient way of converting waste biomass and hydrogen to liquid HC via one-step pyrolysis-hydrogenation using H2 made from water electrolysis of non-fossil energy sources. The waste biomass already has carbon in chains, thus eliminating the exothermic reaction of F-T at low temperatures.

The SMR process is endothermic, but the F-T process is exothermic, so more or less evens out.

F-T synthesis is done in the region of 200°C.  Cracking methane takes more like 1000°C, and even more if you're trying to drive a reaction energetically uphill (reducing water).  For the purposes of reforming, the F-T process yields only waste heat.

If you read that F-T paper, you'll see that the oxygen from the CO comes out as about 50% H2O, 50% CO2.  That CO2 represents lost carbon (about 25% of the total).  I'll let you do the energy balance, but Roger... consider the likelihood that you're missing a few crucial facts, and dig for them instead of relying on saner voices to bring you back to reality.

Roger Pham

Agree with you, EP, that it is very difficult to recycle the low-grade waste heat of F-T at 200 C. For economic reason, has to be written off as a lost. That's why I don't much like the dual process of gasification and F-T.

Roger Pham

One way to overcome the extra energy requirement of the SMR if done at 500 dgr C is to use the waste heat of a power generation gas turbine, at about 600 C.

The heat release during F-T synthesis can be recycled via an organic Rankine cycle or supercritical CO2 cycle for power generation. The latter cycle needs large amount of heat at lower temp at the condensation point of water because supercritical CO2 has very high specific heat capacity right above its SC point, so the condensed H2O formed after F-T synthesis can release the vast latent heat for this purpose. The water recovered from FT synthesis will be recycled via feed pump to the boiler for SMR.

The combination of gas turbine waste heat plus waste heat to power from FT synthesis can significantly improve the efficiency of the process of H2 and liquid HC production from NG.


You can do the water-gas shift at 400°C or less, but not cracking methane with water.

You do know what Gibbs free energy is, don't you?  Calculate ΔG for CH4+H20 vs. CO+3H2 at 773 K, and post your results.

Roger Pham

SMR can be done at 500 C with new catalyst,which can lower the energy of activation. Enzymes in living things can carry out reactions at body temp which would take hundreds of degrees higher w/out catalysts.


Changing the subject is not answering the question.

Roger Pham

Sorry, EP, the catalyst for SMR @ 500 C in the link above outputs H2 and CO2, instead of CO and H2. So, this is great for FCEV, since the water-gas shift rxn is eliminated and no CO to poison the FC, but no CO, so the F-T rxn cannot be carried out. Sorry SJC.

Using the waste heat of a gas turbine here and the efficiency of SMR will get a big jump! Hoohray!!!
So, instead of an expensive and complicated bottoming cycle for the gas turbine, we will have instead high-efficiency SMR to produce H2 for high-efficiency FCEV. The efficiency of SMR here can easily exceed unity, WRT the energy of NG feedstock input.

This is clearly more efficient than any NG vehicle that would use NG directly.

A local H2 piping system can transport H2 efficiently from a local SMR plant to H2 filling stations and stationary FC for CHP cogeneration of both heat and power in colder weather. This is clearly more efficient than any NG furnace!
No more power blackout from storms, neither snow nor rain storms nor solar storms nor flare.

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