Hydrogen; Nature's Fuel

Uploaded by PrairiePublicBcast on 04.01.2011

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 &. Environmental Research Center's
National Center for Hydrogen Technology.
and the members of Prairie Public.
[bass &. 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 &. Environmental Research Center's
National Center for Hydrogen Technology.
and the members of Prairie Public.