Hydrogen; Nature’s Fuel


Hydrogen is the most abundant
element on earth. It really is nature’s fuel. We’re at a very interesting
stage of development of this technology where it’s
not quite ready for prime time time but it’s getting
tantalizingly close Fuel cell technology
is evolving, the technology is
improving constantly. We’re competing in a market
that we have to compete with batteries and generators,
and how do we do this? I think hydrogen
has great potential to become
one of our primary fuels for the transportation industry
in the future. I would much rather
drive my fuel cell vehicle than my gasoline vehicle. Funding
provided by: The U.S.
Department of Energy National Energy
Technology Laboratory. The Energy &amp.
Environmental Research Center’s National Center
for Hydrogen Technology. and the members
of Prairie Public. [bass &amp. drums
play in bright rhythm] (female narrator)
You’ve probably heard
something about hydrogen. You may know hydrogen
can be used to fuel cars. But did you know that hydrogen
is used safely all around you every day? In data centers, warehouses, golf courses,
and even breweries. Hydrogen is nature’s fuel. It can be made where you want,
when you want. Imagine living in a world
without concerns about energy security or pollution.
where you can get all the energy you need
from domestic sources. Imagine the world of fuel cells using safe, clean,
abundant hydrogen. This is actually an electric
car, it’s got an electric motor in the front
that drives the car forward. And it gets most
of its electricity from fuel cell system that
converts hydrogen and oxygen from the air into electricity
and water as a waste product. The concept of the fuel cell has been around for 150 years
as a chemical principle. Starting about the ’60s these
devices were made for space and over about last 15 years
automakers have been working very hard to develop
the technology for automobiles as a way of simultaneously
reducing the use of oil, reducing air pollution and also reducing the release
of greenhouse gases This type of fuel cell is called a PEM fuel cell,
proton exchange membrane. The way I like to explain it,
it’s like a sandwich where in the middle of the sandwich,
the meat of the sandwich, if you will, you have a membrane
material, you have hydrogen on one side, and you have
platinum as catalyst material. That catalyst allows
the hydrogen molecule to split apart into protons
and electrons. The protons go through the
membrane, the electrons have to go around the membrane,
and as those electrons are going around the membrane, they
are powering the electric motor. Everything meets on the side
with the oxygen and forms water
as the waste product. Sometimes you’ll hear it called
a fuel cell stack. It’s a whole stack
of these fuel cells
just like you stack batteries together in a flashlight
to build up more voltage. In a car like this you
might have 400 fuel cells all stacked together to
give you a few hundred volts. Currently we produce
in the world over 50 million tons of hydrogen with about a fifth of that being consumed
in the United States. That hydrogen is being used
primarily as a feedstock for making agricultural products
such as fertilizer and also a chemical feedstock to take the petroleum
in its raw form and make it into e petroleum that we use
in either diesel or gasoline. It’s also used for medical
applications, food processing, a variety of smaller type uses. If you look down the road
in the hydrogen economy, some of those uses
are for transportation such as forklifts in a
warehouse, backup power, or even putting electricity
onto the grid. As always, when you start going
into new markets it becomes difficult
for commercial companies to invest in something
that is years out, so that’s why we have programs like the National Center
for Hydrogen Technology where you have
some government support because that federal support
helps bridge that gap. With that we work closely with
commercial partners, and we find opportunities
to provide developments in terms of being
more effective, lower cost, better environmental advantages,
and these are all things that are helping to buoy
the hydrogen economy. As we go down this path
and we get those goals met, we start grabbing more
and more market opportunities. becomes a matter
of greatly reducing the cost of producing
the hydrogen as well, the fuel cells,
and also the end uses. And we then reach
more and more applications, and we then see it accelerating,
and as that happens you get the benefit
of more public buy-in. The more they’re familiar
with technology, the more they want it, and
the more they are interested. We see some very significant technological evolution
taking place which says that hydrogen can be
exceptionally competitive, and we firmly believe
that the ultimate energy source in this world
is going to be hydrogen. Hydrogen is interesting. it can
be made a lot of different ways there’s
a lot of domestic resources that can be used to make
hydrogen. Any source of electricity
can be used to make hydrogen from water. Hydrogen can
also be made through
a lot of biomass pathways. Right now it’s made
a lot from natural gas which is not ultimately
sustainable but is sort of a bridge
technology to potentially getting to cleaner sources
of hydrogen in the future. (narrator)
To get hydrogen from water, we can use electricity to break the chemical bonds
between oxygen and hydrogen. This process
is called electrolysis. Hydrogenics is a global leader in the development of fuel cells
and on-site hydrogen generation. We can provide
the hydrogen stations
that produce the hydrogen. The process starts with
the electrolyzer– that’s
where we make that hydrogen. We take city water,
and we purify it, and put that
inside our electrolyzer. From then,
the water’s electrolyzed. We produce hydrogen and oxygen. Oxygen is vented and hydrogen
is captured. It is then purified
through our dryer and purifier. The purifier removes
any trace oxygen inside the hydrogen stream. And the dryer
removes any moisture that was left over from
the electrolysis process. The gas comes out
at about 150 psi. From then on it’s compressed
to 6000 psi where it is stored
into storage tanks. From the storage tanks, the gas
is diverted into the dispenser. (narrator)
Most of the hydrogen
we have today comes from natural gas through a process called
steam methane reforming. I would say about 90%
of the world’s hydrogen comes from fossil fuels,
from reforming natural gas. For that you need the capital
cost of millions of dollars to create your plant. And you produce thousands of
kilograms in one day. (narrator) We can get hydrogen from coal through gasification. (Tom Erickson)
We’ve been using coal in this
country for many many years, and primarily
it’s been combusted. We burn the coal d we
essentially convert it entirely to heat. In a gasification system,
we convert coal into something
very similar to natural gas. Then that natural gas has an
extremely high hydrogen content, and we can then take that and either manipulate it
to pure hydrogen or we can even produce
liquid fuels from it. Gasification has the promise of
being one of the few sources that we can use to produce very, very large quantities
of hydrogen. So as we transition to a
hydrogen economy, coal is one of those domestic resources
that can really step in. We believe very strongly that coal must remain a part of our
energy future. In order to do that we must find
the technologies to utilize it more efficiently
and effectively. We’re convinced that because of
the experience and knowledge that we’ve gained from our
Dakota Gasification Project that we have a way in which
to find the solution to this very challenging issue for our continued ability
to utilize coal. Hydrogen today is something
we look to for the future. If you want to talk
about renewables, you’ve got to find a way
in which to store the energy. Because
electrical energy has to be used
at the time it’s produced. And with renewables you don’t
have that opportunity, because when the wind is blowing
you may not have the load. And so if you’re producing it,
how do we store it? The hydrogen concept is
one of those opportunities. Hydrogen generation can happen through a number of different
routes. The easiest route would have us
making electricity and then using that electricity
to run an electrolyzer which would split water
electrochemically. We can also drive chemical
processes which could then be used to
produce fuels such as hydrogen or even
liquid hydrocarbon fuels. Solar typically only works
when the sun is up. Wind only works when
the wind is blowing. Sun goes down then you have
to make up all that solar power
with other sources. Or if the wind is blowing and suddenly it stops,
it causes instabilities. I need that power whenever
there is a demand The ability to store power is
key to large-scale deployment because it removes that
instability. (narrator)
In the same way hydrogen stores the energy
from the sun and wind, we can use hydrogen to store
the energy in moving water. (Michael McGowan)
Although hydrogen is the most abundant element
in the universe, it’s not readily available
in a usable form. As a result it has to be
manufactured. The good news about hydrogen is,
it can be manufactured in a variety of ways and in
large array of feedstocks. Liquid hydrogen in general first
came to the United States as part of the space program, and it was large government
support for that program helped subsidize
the first plants. Linde is one of the world’s
largest industrial gas
companies. Most of Linde’s hydrogen comes from this plant here
in Magog, Quebec. This plant utilizes
a hydrogen waste stream that comes from a sodium chlorate
plant across the street. That plant takes brine,
electrolyzes it, makes sodium chlorate and
a 97% hydrogen waste stream, Linde captures
that hydrogen stream and uses hydroelectric power to purify it and liquefy it for
delivery across the country. (Michael Gagne)
Essentially, the plant here uses electricity as the driving force to compress
and liquefy the hydrogen. Our electricity, fortunately in
Quebec is, essentially 97% comes from
hydroelectricity which is a renewable resource. For green hydrogen I say it is
hydrogen produced with zero or minimal
greenhouse gas or other pollutants as
by-products. Other renewable ways of making
hydrogen is to capture solar, wind, wave,
geothermal power and electrolyze water
to produce hydrogen. We produce hydrogen in a very
environmental friendly way because of the fact that we have
hydroelectric power. However, we have to transport
that hydrogen and the transportation
does have an impact in terms of
the carbon footprint. (Michael McGowan)
The reason we liquefy hydrogen
is that it is perhaps the most efficient way
to distribute hydrogen over long distances and you can
deliver the most hydrogen with the lowest carbon footprint
as a liquid. Currently the 3 traditional ways
of storing hydrogen have largely depended
on the volume of hydrogen you want to store and how far
you want to transport it. So if you need a couple
kilograms of hydrogen, typically steel cylinders is
what you would use. When we get to a few hundred
kilograms of hydrogen we look to employ
stainless steel tube trailers. When you get to larger,
maybe several hundred to several thousand kilograms
of hydrogen consumption, that’s where liquid hydrogen
becomes highly economical. Beyond that is when you have to seriously start thinking about
an on-site production. We know hydrogen
can be delivered, compressed, and dispensed
into vehicles very safely, as safely if not more safely
than traditional fuels. Just as electricity is an energy
carrier, so is hydrogen. Hydrogen is an excellent way to transport energy
in a usable form, that can be fed to a fuel cell
and generate electricity where you need it,
when you need it. So whether you’re
moving your vehicles or you’re lighting your house
or heating your homes One of the beauties of hydrogen,
it will be able to provide a common energy currency
throughout the world. In a hydrogen economy, every
area of the world will be able to generate this currency with
the resources available to it. Hydrogen is produced today
in large scales at economies that would make
sense for hydrogen fueling We’re confident that industry
can respond. And that is largely with the
infrastructure. Fueling stations that are
fueling tens or hundreds of cars instead of thousands of cars. Obviously the infrastructure
is very similar. What you need to fuel one car,
is pretty much the same equipment you need to
fuel 100 cars or 1000 cars. When it comes to hydrogen
refueling, there is quite a big difference. I’d rather fill at a hydrogen
fueling station than a gasoline station. Due to the fact that gasoline
stations have been developed from the 1940s and ’50s, many
of the standards and many of the safety guidelines
have been grandfathered in. When we look at development of
standards, we are looking at what is safe to fuel with the
knowledge that we know today, not from what we knew earlier. With this knowledge we are able
to ensure that we design fully safe hydrogen stations. Kraus Global is primarily an alternate fuel dispenser
manufacturer. So that would encase propane,
natural gas, hydrogen, and very soon
liquefied natural gas. We got quite a good head start in targeting from South America, Middle East, Europe, Asia. 80% of our business would be
outside of North America. At Kraus we are primarily
an assembler and tester. Mainly the components come
into our factory, assembled into subassemblies,
and move down the line to where they finally get
put into the dispenser. You do some
final wiring, tubing. Moves on to the test bay. Every unit is tested fully. And once it’s approved, out the
door off to the end customer. When the public sees hydrogen
at a station, they see the dispenser. They don’t often see the storage
or the compression or any of the other equipment
that’s very vital but is hidden. From the public’s point of view,
hydrogen is about the vehicle
that they are driving and the dispenser
that they are filling it at. (Scott Bailey) To compare
a hydrogen dispenser to a gasoline dispenser, you can’t pump a gas,
you have to move it on the basis of pressure
differential. So instead of a pump
that draws fluid out, you have valving
that opens and closes to control the flow of gas
to the vehicle. Instead of a turbine meter in a
gasoline dispenser that spins, to give you a reading on volume,
you have a mass flow meter which senses the molecules of
hydrogen flowing through it and gives you that same
mass reading on the display. One of the challenges with any
new energy is distribution. In particular, the gasoline
stations already exist. You are trying to compete
with something that has been built up
over 100 years. Initially, there will be
hydrogen projects, where buses return to a depot
to fuel at night or where you have forklifts operating under one roof
at a warehouse. The biggest barrier right now is
probably the lack of vehicles. Now if you talk to an OEM
vehicle manufacture they’ll say the biggest barrier is the lack
of stations. I’d say we’re both right–it’s
a chicken-and-egg challenge. Do you bring the vehicles out
first, or do you bring the stations out first?
Well, you need both. You’ll see reports that
suggested that it’s going to cost up to a trillion dollars to develop a new fueling
infrastructure if we’re going to deploy
hydrogen in this country. The truth of the matter is,
that is totally wrong. The EERC has developed
a technology called hydrogen on demand
and what it is, we can use a wide variety
of feedstocks which are readily available. to produce hydrogen
as you’re filling your vehicle. No more than you need
to fill it, produces it on the spot in real time while
you’re filling the vehicle. It eliminates the cost of
pressurizing the hydrogen– major cost out of the picture. Secondly, we eliminate the need
for storage– another big cost
out of the picture. Third key thing,
we can use just about every existing gas station in this
country for this technology. You can drive up to that station
you can buy gasoline, you can buy an ethanol blend,
you can buy diesel, you can buy hydrogen. Our mission basically is to develop power systems that
generate electricity, because we firmly believe
that electricity will be moving people around in the next wave of mobility
for humankind. In product development,
like all companies in the clean energy space,
we are trying to deliver on the 3 promises
which are energy security, environmental quality,
and economic opportunity. Nuvera got started by combining
2 emerging technologies. On one side, the hydrogen
generation technology through reforming, and the
fuel cell stack technology, the electrochemical device
that converts hydrogen and oxygen
into electricity. Power Tap is our on-site
hydrogen generation product, which supplies on-site hydrogen
to customers, forklifts, and fuel cell vehicles. The Power Tap on-site hydrogen
generator is designed to operate off of natural gas. We do this because it is
a readily available fuel. There’s over 2 million miles
of pipeline within the United States going
to 69 million customers today. We’re using the same natural gas
that you are in your home running your boiler, running
your hot water heater. Nothing is different. This box, we like to call it
actually a hydrogen generation appliance. We’ve taken
large-scale industrial process
and intensified it. We have natural gas
and city water come in on the utility side,
it get’s conditioned, then is sent to
a steam methane reformer. It combines the steam
as city water, it combines the natural gas, and it breaks the bonds
into a hydrogen rich stream, which in the industry
we call syngas. After that fuel processing it
goes to a purification step where we get
high purity hydrogen which is required
for our fuel cell stacks. Inside this canister is our
steam methane reformer. It is taking the fuel
and city water, it’s converting them both
into the syngas. We do sell these both warehouses
that are using forklift trucks, and also we are looking at
opportunities to do merchant hydrogen,
which is generating hydrogen for outright sale of the gas. The hydrogen refueling system
that we have developed is based on the reformation of natural
gas reacting with water. There’s a lot of critics
of this approach because we are using
a carbon-based fuel. While it’s not totally carbon
free, it’s an obvious choice as a part of the roadmap
to a carbon reduction. The stack on top that you see is
a commercially available stack that goes into our
Power Edge Systems. These are systems
that are provided to the material handling market s
battery replacements. It’s intended for industrial, kind of heavy-duty
industrial applications. The real advantage of fuel cells
over other power plant type technologies is that they
are inherently scalable. So of I need a stack of just
one kilowatt, there it is. If I need this stack
to be 90 kilowatts I simply add cells to it. In terms of
the prime power plant, the prime energy converter.
it’s real, it’s today. We’re doing it, they’re ready,
they’re reliable. We’re deploying them
in fork trucks. The fork truck market is
an ideal proving ground because it’s a vehicle
that’s already electrified. It already uses batteries, and
we’re proving that the fuel cell has value in displacing
batteries in that application. This system is designed
so that the user can push out
the lead acid battery put in our system and the truck
doesn’t know the difference. It’s a hybrid system which has instead of
the gasoline powered engine, we have a fuel cell engine,
which actually is one of the nice points about
fuel cells is, with the growth of hybrid technology
in over-the-road vehicles you can very easily
see how you could take the internal combustion engine
out and put a fuel cell in. In the traditional, power supply
system for electric forklifts, you have big racks and racks
of lead acid batteries. For every truck,
you have up to 3 batteries. And when the battery dies,
you have to take it to a specialized machine that
pulls the battery out, puts it up on the rack to be charged
and puts a new battery in. All of this is
very time intensive. A battery takes 8 hours
to charge and 8 hours to cool. This system takes
about 2 minutes to refuel. This is a fuel cell stack. This is what I call the dry end
of the system because there is no water. This is the wet end. There is a condenser here
for managing heat and water, so as the fuel cell runs,
it creates water. This manages the water
to keep it for getting too high or too low
and also rejects the heat. Also in here we have
the fuel handling components that take the very high pressure
from the tank and step it down. There’s an on-board computer,
which allows the fuel cell system to provide
you with intelligent power. A lead acid battery is
just a dumb battery. It can’t tell you anything
about how healthy it is or how productive
the operator is. It will just slowly drain down
in performance over the course of the shift just
like a flashlight going dim. What you’ll find with these is,
you will have consistent power. When you talk about family cars
or SUVs, batteries will be too heavy and too bulky to be
deployed and too expensive. To put a battery
in a minivan today you would have to add
about 450 pounds. And that’s carrying a gorilla
inside your car. It’s an invisible gorilla,
but nobody wants a gorilla in addition to the car you have. That’s where
the fuel cell will come in and will have the right
substitute in that case. (Mickey Oros) This is
the world’s first automated fuel cell
assembly line We can do 1000 cells a day. Some of out stacks require
about 50 cells. The reason for doing the line
is again, we are competing in a market with batteries and generators.
And how do we do this? One of the things we found in order to compete
in a world market is, we can’t have exotic materials. We figured out how we could
design this in such a way that we can build it with
robotics that are the same as the auto industry, that are the
same in the computer industry. Not exotics,
not the super titaniums, not the stuff that is just very,
very costly, high expenses, but we found low cost materials
that we could go ahead and put these together with everything
that is readily available wherever we need to
to become a global competitor. What we’re building today we’re
actually finding those markets we can go into– the telcom industry, the data
centers those backup supports that we need that would replace
the battery or the generator. So right away
we’re going to go ahead and
drive to those newer markets. This happens to be
a 1000-watt system that we’ve created, this is
a 5000-watt system. We have communications– we can
actually from a remote distance if the fuel gets to a certain
level we can go ahead and have this unit call the fuel provider
and have them go ahead and say hey, fuel’s low, come
and take care of it before the incident happens before
you start running this unit and all of a sudden you find out
you are out of fuel. And this is just conventional
batteries that you see quite often in data centers,
in telecom systems. Just like any common generator
it takes in some generators it may take 2, 3 minutes
to come on. We can come on in within
about 5 seconds, 3 to 5 seconds. So we’re instant. But in order not to lose
that power we bridge it with a small battery
for a short period of time I can demonstrate this–
we turn on these really super bright lights
here, and right now the fuel cell is armed,
and it’s watching the grid. And it’s intelligent enough to
see if the grid starts to drop. The fuel cell knows that it’s
time to come on. As soon we shut off the power the grid is there,
the fuel cell is armed The fuel cell immediately
knew to come on because it lost the power–
it no longer has any power, but you didn’t see any blinks in
the light whatsoever– not one. There’s all kinds of
opportunities that are open to what
the fuel cell has to offer. It’s open for the imagination. This is
a 1000-watt system right here. It’s a unit
that we can use outdoors. This is the one that actually
Gov. Schwarzenegger used to light his Christmas tree
every year, normally a 60-foot Christmas
tree that had at one time 5000 5-watt light bulbs on it and
consumed 25000 watts of power. We were able to come back
through, talk to them about that, change their way
of looking at it, put LED lights on this unit– ended up
dropping the consumption from 25,000 watts
down to 450 watts. We were able to use it
with a small, little 1000-watt fuel cell system
that we have here. So every year he delights
in the fact that he is running a Christmas tree
cost effectively and showing that there’s
other alternatives to power. This is green, that’s the great
and wonderful thing about this is, it’s zero pollution
low noise, plus a tremendous amount
of energy in a small package These are real,
these are pieces of equipment we’re gonna see being used
on a daily basis. Henry Ford in his true wit
he had many years ago, he was confronted with
stockholders and news reporters, and someone in the crowd said
Mr. Ford, I know you are going to
mass-produce these things but what are you going to do
about the fuel, where are you going to get the
fuel for all these things? He stopped for a second,
he thought, he said you know, I’m not going
to worry about that. We know that, in fact,
hydrogen is everywhere. As long as we build
cost-effective pieces of equipment
that generate electricity then we are going to look
to those other companies that create and develop hydrogen
to be able to supply us. SYSCO is an acronym, stands for
System and Services Company. We deal primarily with
restaurants, schools, hospitals– anybody that’s in
the food service business. We use triple pallet jacks
to move the groceries from our warehouse to the docks. They’re powered traditionally
by lead core batteries. The fuel cell we use here
in Grand Rapids is provided for us by PlugPower, and they are used
in place of batteries. The fuel cell itself provides
a consistent level of power during its entire use
of its fuel which is different from
our traditional batteries which have
a declining performance. As soon as you start using
that battery, the power starts to decline, and
therefore the performance of the piece of equipment declines
with the decreasing power. The traditional battery lasts
anywhere from 6 to 8 hours depending on how new that
battery is as compared to the fuel cell which may last
up to 14 hours per shift. A huge savings for us because
we’re not changing batteries we’re not recharging batteries
so we have utility savings as well, but also
our selectors stay busy selecting groceries instead of
swapping batteries out They are a very smooth operating
source of power. We’ve had good results
from a handling standpoint. The units themselves weigh 600 pounds less than
our previous batteries. If you take the 600 pounds off,
replace it with a new power cell the handle which the selector
operates becomes much easier to move around, and
that’s been an added benefit. The employees that operate
the triple pallet jacks have been positive
in their feedback about how they operate,
how smooth they operate, and so far we have had no negative
feedback from them which is probably the most important vote
of confidence. The people that actually use
this day-in, day-out as part of their tools to do their job
are enjoying the experience. The operators of these
triple pallet jacks are responsible to fuel
their unit when necessary. It operates much like a car does
in terms of a fuel gauge. When it does indicate it needs
to be refueled the selector comes to fuel
station and goes through a very quick process,
usually less than a minute, to refuel his or her
particular triple pallet jack. There are warehouses
using this technology to various degrees already. We’re on the front end
of this change. I’d like to think in the future
this entire facility will be powered
by an alternative fuel source. and if hydrogen is the answer we’re certainly one step forward
in the right direction. [no engine noise] Our customers are asking
for better solutions. They want to be quieter, they want to be lighter, they
want to be smarter machines. Many of our products are used
for golf environments are in a situation where they are
used very early in the morning. A lot of golf courses are built
around houses and they want quiet equipment. [no motor noise] Fuel cells are a solution
for this. We don’t want to have to
sacrifice performance in order to get the benefits
of electric power. So first of all, one of our
guiding principles is that the machines will be able
to do the same tasks you are used to, and feel and
operate in much the same way. Given that assumption there are
some differences. The components are different
size and different weights so you have to repackage them
in new areas. They have
to be weather protected
and environmental protected, they’re basically
off-road equipment. The fuel cells that we are using
are called a PEM fuel cell. PEM stands for
proton exchange membrane. It’s one of several types of
fuel cells particularly suitable for mobile applications because
they’re compact, lightweight, they start up fast, and they
follow loads very quickly. We’ve chosen
to use compressed hydrogen as a fuel storage on board. In order to get enough volume
of hydrogen we are operating
at 5000 psi tanks. To keep the tanks lightweight, instead of thick,
heavy-walled steel tank. We’ve got a composite tank
or bladder, either aluminum
or some kind of plastic wrapped with threads to make
the tank strong enough We’re able to get
lightweight power and we can refuel quickly
with the hydrogen where the batteries are heavy and take a lot of time
to recharge. Hydrogen in a fuel cell is
clean, it is completely green, and you give off water. There’s a lot fewer moving parts
than in an engine, a lot less friction. As the industry evolves there is
no reason it shouldn’t be able to get long life as one
of its better attributes. In my opinion hydrogen is safe
when used properly. The systems have to be designed
so they are safe. People have to be trained,
then it’s just like handling any of these
high energy contents. One of the key advantages
that our industry has is that we are
a fleet operation. Turf equipment on a golf course
or a park system or something comes home to roost in
the same building every night, then is deployed during the day
and comes back. The ability to put in one
central refueling site to take care of a bunch of product
is inherent to our business. It lets us become,
I think, the niche market that can start to use fuel cells
quicker than many other places. (man) We got started in 1980,
brewed our first batch of beer at a smaller facility I was a home brewer
who turned commercial brewer. We’ve got 450 employees. 7th or 8th largest brewery
in the country. We have distribution
in every state. I wanted to be more energy
independent, so we started to look at ways to both conserve energy and be
more energy efficient. Actually going back
to when we first started I put in things like ice banks
to store energy at night, so we’ve been embracing some of
those concepts for a long time. We’ve done a lot of optimization
and put in current technology. Some of those projects
have 2 or 3 year paybacks. So it’s not all done strictly
for environmental benefit, but it’s nice to get both. Some of the projects don’t have
great returns, so you really couldn’t justify them strictly
on a return on investment basis. We do
a lot of what we do because
we think it’s the right thing. As a manufacturer
being in an industry that does utilize
a lot of resources we see it as one of our
obligations to do our business in a sound manner and look
for ways to minimize inputs and to minimize waste streams. As a manufacturer our power
needs are 24/7 because we have refrigeration and pumps
and things that are operating. It was both from energy
efficiency and air emissions that I guess I wanted to give
the fuel cell a try. We’ve got four 250-kilowatt
units that are considered a direct fuel cell,
so they don’t need a separate source of hydrogen,
they have an internal process that reforms the hydrogen
out of the feed gas. So we feed it either biogas
or natural gas, and the process is part
of the fuel cell stack. So as the gas goes in
the hydrogen gets separated, and that’s fed
into the fuel cell. We also have heat recovery
boilers, we capture about a million-and-a-quarter
BTUs of energy back as steam, and that goes back
into our brewing process. The fuel cell is, I think,
at the top as far as overall conversion of that input energy
to output electricity. Having the distributed
power generation you’re not losing power
through transmission line loss. If you can cogenerate and use
the heat and the electricity you have picked up even more, so I think our overall
efficiency is approaching 70% for our input energy
with the heat recovery which would be close to double,
I think, what the average fossil fuel
plant would be putting out. As far as nitrogen oxides
and sulfur dioxide and other things that are normal
combustion by-products, none of those are
emitted from the fuel cell. All of our fermenters
are tied into pipes where we can collect
the carbon dioxide that is naturally produced
from fermentation. That’s compressed,
cleaned up, stored, and allows us to have
our own source of CO2 here. Normally breweries would
purchase that if they don’t recover it,
and now that we recover ours we have our own source
of naturally produced CO2 that’s been captured
rather than emitted. Naturally produced carbon
dioxide is used in the bottling process and moving
beer around and dispensing beer. We just completed
a pretty big solar array. I think we’ll have one
of the largest in the country, so that’s pretty exciting. And we’re using
new inverter technology that’s very efficient,
and so we’re doing a good job of converting the sun’s energy
to electricity. Middle part of the day we’re
drawing more power, so when our solar panels are
putting out their maximum is when our power consumption
is at maximum as well. Then at nighttime when the solar
is not working we have our fuel cells giving us
our base load, so it’s a good combination
for us. We actually have our own herd
of cattle. We feed our spent grain to
the cattle, and the manure from that is composted
and put back on our hops field. So we have a fairly closed loop
on our hops here on site. We do treat all of our own
wastewater, so we take all of our waste streams, our liquid
waste from the brewing process, spilled beer, yeast,
bits of hops and malt and that’s fed into
a digester which produces between 35 to 70 cubic feet
per minute of methane. Then that methane is fed
to the fuel cells. We use a mix
of biogas and natural gas. Since this is more efficient it’ll be cheaper
to produce power this way. We are up to close to 80% of our own electrical power
needs generated here on site. Our goal will be to get to 100%
power generation through both conservation efforts and some
additional power generation I think we can get there. I think it works for a lot
of other industries. We get a lot of visitors here,
I know there’s quite a few hotels in one group
that’s put in fuel cells, one of the local casinos have
put them in, so if you have need for both heat and electricity
on a continuous basis you can justify
this kind of technology. (Catherine Dunwoody) The
California fuel cell partnership is a collaboration amongst
industry and government We have members from the
automotive industry, energy companies, fuel cell
technology companies as well as government from the state,
local, and federal levels. We’re working together to
promote the commercialization of hydrogen powered
fuel cell vehicles. Many years ago when we were
dealing with tying to reduce smog in the face
of our continued population and vehicle growth
here in California, we looked and said we really
need to zero emission vehicles or something
that’s very, very close. There were 2 technologies
available, one was battery
electric vehicles. the other technology
was fuel cell vehicles. This particular vehicle
actually has a hydrogen fuel cell system
in it, the system is, we have high pressure hydrogen
stored in the vehicle. The fuel cell itself actually
converts this electrochemically to electricity
which drives the vehicle. I tend to get comments about
the sound or the lack of it. In this particular vehicle, this
platform we have a compressor that makes
a little noise but overall it’s
about as quiet as it can be. [no engine noise] When we first started
this program we had a lot of vehicle issues and
stuff like that. I have to say we’ve definitely
turned that around to where these vehicles are
very reliable. We have them out in a fleet
over the whole country. We’re very impressed with the
way they perform and handle and their
reliability. Oftentimes I get comments about
how stable it feels, how it doesn’t feel like a
prototype. It feels very much like a car
they go out and buy Obviously the next question I
get is, why can’t I get it now? The most common comment I see is
that the vehicle is really cool. When you get in the vehicle
and drive around, in general there is not much of
a difference between the vehicle and a
conventional vehicle. It drives about the same, better pickup in the city,
better acceleration, a little quieter,
but when they know that it’s boarding hydrogen and has
a fuel cell, it has this cool green feel to it, and
that’s what people respond to. We have real-world customers, so
we have real-world feedback. The customer can cope
with infrastructure, with the vehicle durability,
with range issues, the customer
compares the vehicle to a normal standard car. That’s why we have customer
operations because it’s not only important to have
technology advancements but also to listen closely
to what the customer says, because at the end of the day
if the customer does not buy your nice piece
of technical equipment the whole technology is
a failure. With a battery electric vehicle
you have to make the electricity somehow to
recharge the batteries. With this vehicle you have to
make the hydrogen somehow. The hydrogen tanks are
right under the rear seats. the fuel cell system is located
under the front seats, the driver
and passenger seats. The electric motor is up front. Then in the back under the cargo
compartment there is a battery, and the battery works
with the fuel cell to provide electricity
to the electric motor. The battery does the same thing
it does in a hybrid car which is called
regenerative braking, and when we’re
slowing down the energy that otherwise would have been
wasted through the brakes is actually captured
in the battery. Then when you need power to
accelerate or go up a hill both the battery
and the fuel cell can put electric power
to the electric motor. This vehicle is equipped
with leak detectors that will immediately tell you if there is
a leak so you know to pull over and get the vehicle towed
to a place it can get repaired. Hydrogen is very, very light,
so if there is a leak, it tends
to disburse very rapidly. The hydrogen storage tanks in
these vehicles are incredibly well designed, very strong
fiber wrapped cylinders. They have done extensive testing
with them to ensure they are as safe as possible.
It has a neat safety feature where there are
little side pillars
in the rear of the vehicle. There’s tubes running up
from the hydrogen tanks through those side pillars
up to a pressure release valve which is a little bump you see
on the roof of the car. So if there’s
an accident, the system will
detect the loss in pressure and the hydrogen will be
immediately vented through the pressure
release valve on the roof. You can measure in terms
of volume. you can talk about gallons or liters of hydrogen,
but because the volume changes
at different pressures we tend to think of it
in terms of weight. A certain amount of hydrogen is
gonna weigh the same no matter what pressure it’s at.
One kilogram of hydrogen stores as much energy
as one gallon of gasoline. This vehicle stores
about 2 kilograms of hydrogen Because it’s under high pressure
that pump when I clamp the nozzle onto the gas tank.
it has to form a very tight seal and unless the pump knows
there is a tight seal, the pump won’t even turn on, so it’s got
a lot of safety build into it. Right now we’re at
a very interesting stage of development
of this technology. In some ways fuel cells
are an easier fit for buses
than they are for cars. (man)
You don’t get much cleaner
than a fuel cell bus, that’s for sure,
it’s a zero emission vehicle. We’re the first to actually
build a fleet of fuel cell buses for an actual heavy-duty
transit application. New Flyer Industries is
the largest manufacturer in North America of heavy-duty
transit vehicles. Currently have about
17,000 buses on the road at almost 250 different
transit agencies. Because of the fact that we had
the Vancouver Winter Olympics, there was a drive to showcase and demonstrate green
technology. When the contract was
originally tendered to do the fuel cell buses
for the Olympics, we proceeded to develop
an initial prototype which would eventually serve as
the mold for our production. One of the big challenges with
developing the fuel cell bus is to make sure
that it can operate in the cold temperature
environment. Once we were satisfied with
that, then we proceeded with production to build the 20 buses
for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. In most ways
the vehicle went through our standard
production line, our
standard production stations. The only difference was that
there were a few extra steps at certain points of the line
where we had to install the fuel tanks and some of
the other hybrid components. But we were able
to incorporate that all within our existing
processes and equipment. Because we are low floor design, which all our buses are nowadays
for wheelchair accessibility, and ease of getting on and off
for passengers. One of the challenges with that
is the buses are very low to the ground, so there
is no room under the bus to really install much
equipment. With the large number of
components that are required for the fuel cell bus
in terms of the hydrogen tanks, the batteries,
the cooling systems, all that takes up
a lot of space. We ended up putting quite a few
of the components on the roof of the vehicle as well as in
the rear engine compartment. From an aesthetic standpoint,
you would have a lot of trouble from just a quick glance
telling a fuel cell bus
apart from a regular bus. If you were to walk on and sit
in the seat, you wouldn’t notice much out of the ordinary,
the stuff that you don’t see, which is what makes
the technology interesting. The big challenge is operating a hydrogen fuel cell coach
in cold weather. The primary by-product of
the chemical reaction is water, of course, we ran into the issue of what happens when you drop
below zero degrees Celsius. If you don’t design for that, you can certainly run the risk
of freezing that water, which can definitely damage
portions of your fuel cell. One of the initial things
we had to work on was a way to plug in
the vehicles overnight to ensure that
the fuel cell didn’t freeze. The other big challenge was
how do you ensure that on those cold day’s you have
enough heat available so you can
properly start the bus? Then once the bus is running,
how do you ensure that you have
enough heat available so that everybody is comfortable
within the vehicle? One of the aspects about
the fuel cell bus design is that it uses electric motors
to drive the wheels. The fuel cell itself does not
actually directly drive the vehicle. All it does is convert hydrogen
to electricity. So that electricity is used
to drive motors and other systems
on the vehicle. One of the advantages of
an electric motor is that at very low speeds
they generate a high amount of torque–
the acceleration is very good. The other big advantage
is the breaking. Because we have
an electric system on the bus with very powerful storage
batteries and generators, we are able to regain energy
from the braking system when the vehicle stops. Not only does that increase
the life of the brake pads and allow you to charge
your electrical system, but it also gives you
a lot of stopping power. Hydrogen buses are designed to work very similar to the way the diesel bus as far as duty
cycle, and they are able to perform all the same functions
as a standard diesel bus. Our buses have a range
of about 300 to 325 miles. Diesel buses, and again,
this fuel cell bus, so depending on the
route service they can be out for a trip or run
which is just a few hours up to 16, 17, even 18 hours
without any trouble. These buses because of extra
infrastructure on the roof for gas, storage,
for all the additional components,
they’re over 8000 pounds heavier
than the comparable diesel bus but in spite of that
we’re seeing as much as 100% or double the
fuel economy over a diesel bus. The main thing everybody notices is how quiet and smooth the vehicle is in comparison to
a standard diesel bus There is no transmission on it so it is very smooth,
powers away very quietly. We have had some comments
from riders that the bus is actually too quiet– it can
actually sneak up on them– they have been surprised
when it pulls up to the curb and they didn’t even realize
it was there. (Jamie Levin) With the fuel cell
technology this bus doesn’t care where
the hydrogen comes from. And the value of hydrogen in transportation applications is that we can make hydrogen
from solar, wind, and biomass. Here we’re using natural gas,
and while it’s not completely zero emission it has
some CO2 emissions. Well to wheel
it is still better than our regular diesel internal
combustion engine vehicles. (Douglas Byrne) They’re
basically a large golf cart. There’s not a lot of maintenance
on a golf cart. One of the largest maintenance items for any bus is the brakes. With these vehicles having regenerative braking we’re
hoping to realize better brake life and then a cost saving
associated with that. We’re learning from these buses,
we’re learning from other examples throughout
the world. All the supercomputers of the
world, all the brilliant minds that delivered the technology
in the first place can’t think of every variable. And what we do here is,
we capture almost all the variables
that they can’t think of. And we’re all learning from
this, not just us as users but the technology providers
are seeing things that they couldn’t replicate
in the labs. We’re very much committed to
looking at alternative fuels to improve
our environmental footprint– zero emission
from the tailpipe. virtually no noise
from the engine and the potential of addressing global warming,
climate change issues, sustainable energy supplies
to fuel our vehicles to help us reach
energy independence. Our end-state goal is
commercialization, so that all of the transit buses
in the United States we would like to see as zero emission fuel cell buses. Hydrogen has been
used safely throughout our economy, we use most of the hydrogen today to
make cleaner gasoline. But it’s also used
in food manufacturing
and consumer products. If you look at hydrogen
compared to gasoline, certainly both fuels have
a lot of energy content. you must pay attention to safety considerations
when using the fuel. Hydrogen is no less safe than
gasoline, it’s just different. If there is a hydrogen leak it’s
very light, so it will go up and rise immediately and
dissipate into the atmosphere. It’s totally nontoxic,
it won’t cause health problems or environmental problems if it
is released into the atmosphere. All vehicle fuels can be
dangerous. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t
be useful as fuel. The trick for any fuel is to
engineer it so that it is as safe as currently available
technologies. Today, that’s gasoline
in conventional vehicles. And most people I know working
with hydrogen, believe that hydrogen is either as safe or
safer than gasoline is today. It is safer than gasoline. Most people were to say today
that if you were to have a gasoline engine today and you
were trying to bring it on the market for the very first time, there would be no way
that you would be able to put that gasoline engine onto
the marketplace. It just wouldn’t happen. I quite sincerely believe and I have seen test evidence
that supports my conclusions that the gas tank in the
suburban that I drive is more dangerous than
a hydrogen fuel tank. We have conducted 120,000
fuelings worldwide already. we know that hydrogen can be
delivered, compressed, and dispensed into vehicles
very safely, as safely if not more safely
than traditional fuels. We’ve done extensive safety
training with our maintenance and service
personnel. We’ve worked with some very good
partners that have designed that have designed
some very good systems. Our fueling stations,
our facility upgrades all incorporate hydrogen
sensors, and fire sensors, and very robust systems
to track that. Safety was a big part of it. I wanted to make sure the
testing they had done was adequate for our
employees’ benefit, as well as for the community. I have the good fortune to drive a fuel cell car on a regular
basis and I use it to take
my kids to school, go to baseball practice, go
grocery shopping, come to work. When they fuel the car, there’s
no fumes or drips of gasoline. I would much rather drive
my fuel cell vehicle than my gasoline vehicle. Icelandic New Energy was
founded in 1999. It’s a joint venture company. it’s owned 51% by Icelandic
shareholders which groups together the energy
companies, the government, the academia
like the university, the innovation center, investment firms,
and private investors. So all the key players in
Iceland who have anything to do with hydrogen
are joined into one company. Then we have Daimler,
Shell Hydrogen, and Stockholm Hydro from Norway
which are the other 3 investors. The goal of the company is to be
kind of an enabler to evaluate the possibility of creating the first hydrogen society
in the world here in Iceland. They foresaw Iceland
as the perfect test ground because they knew that all
the energy sources to produce the hydrogen
would be renewable coming from hydro or geothermal. This ship is mainly a touristic
boat, whale watching. On this ship we have 150 people traveling for 3 or
4 hours at a consecutive time. We put a fuel cell engine
on a commercial boat. This is actually
the fuel cell unit. The hydrogen storage
is actually back in the
engine room. So you have hydrogen pipelines
coming in connected to the fuel cell unit. Then we actually have
a hybrid system So we also have a little bit
of battery packs to have enough power for all
the auxiliaries in the boat. There have been some
technical hiccups on the way, but that’s one of the reasons
why you do projects like this– to learn how and which problems
we’re faced with taking hydrogen out to sea. There is now a project in
Germany to build a ship powered solely
by hydrogen They designed the ship
around the hydrogen. What we did here is,
we basically put hydrogen on board
an existing ship, and there are some
complications with that The main issue is
how to get certification, and how to fulfill
all the strict regulations on having hydrogen on a ship. I think those have been the
most important learning steps and teaches us a lot
about how to do next steps regarding using hydrogen
as part of a marine fuel. Usually when they go out
for whale watching when you see whales, they actually
want to shut down the engines to get rid of the noise, get ri
of the vibration of the ship. Before they had to run at least
the auxiliary engine on diesel So you still have some noise
and some vibration So what they do now
when they find whales they actually can
shut down the whole system. The only operation
is the fuel cell, and that means no vibration,
no noise, and no emissions. That’s actually pretty cool when you are sitting
in the middle of the Atlantic, absolutely no movement
whatsoever and you can see
the whales peacefully. I think people are very positive towards using the domestic
energy sources to power everything
we actually can. We are quite confident about
the hydrogen infrastructure. We don’t think that will be
a hindrance or a barrier
to a hydrogen society. People are very keen
on what can we do, and they are realizing that
the things we can actually do will also be clean, so that’s
a very big added benefit. You also have to think about how much CO2 savings
are in using hydrogen. It’s all about the environment. And if we can also power
the ship partly by hydrogen which is in at least in Iceland
a totally clean energy chain, that’s, of course,
a beautiful picture. (narrator)
From power plants
to wind turbines, city buses to lawn equipment, breweries to warehouses,
hydrogen and fuel cells are quietly improving
our ability to deliver clean, economical energy in our homes
or cars, and where we work. As the world’s thirst for energy
continues to grow and environmental costs mount, hydrogen provides us
with a choice to create our own
clean energy future. Funding
provided by: The U.S.
Department of Energy National Energy
Technology Laboratory. The Energy &amp. Environmental
Research Center’s National Center
for Hydrogen Technology. and the members
of Prairie Public.