DOE-funded projects from as far back as 15 years ago are now making an impact for gas generation and purification company Air Products, as the fuel cell industry takes off. Starting with a project with Air Products Hydrogen Energy Systems group, the City of Las Vegas constructed and now operates the world’s first integrated hydrogen energy station: on-site production of hydrogen to both fuel vehicles and produce electricity. A critical element of this station was the hydrogen generator developed by Air Products, with hydrogen is produced using steam methane reforming.
The technology was further evolved through another DOE-supported cooperative agreement (2002-2007) in which Air Products developed, constructed and operated a turnkey commercial hydrogen fueling station on the main campus of project partner Penn State University. This culminated in the successful demonstration of a fully integrated station that minimizes the cost of produced hydrogen; even better, its daily generation could support a fleet of 160 fuel cell vehicles or four fuel cell buses.
Using these projects as a springboard, Air Products continued to further develop and scale up the generator used at Penn State. This effort resulted in Air Products’ commercial line of hydrogen generation systems, with the first unit contracted for in 2008. These units offer a cost-effective and reliable hydrogen supply. Their compact, modular design allows flexibility for installation for a wide variety of applications, including metals processing, glass production, semiconductor chip manufacturing, photovoltaic cells, chemical hydrogenation, and fueling stations. More than 40 of these units have been installed globally between 2008 and 2015.
Fifteen years after demonstrating their feasibility, small-scale hydrogen generators continue to have commercial impact for Air Products and global companies in industries whose demand for hydrogen continues to increase. Thanks to initial DOE support, Air Products can now offer economical hydrogen supply solutions to customers while furthering the use of hydrogen, which has broader benefits to the environment and U.S. energy security.
The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) success stories highlight the positive impact of its work with businesses, industry partners, universities, research labs, and other entities.