Washington, D.C. — A hydrogen production and dispensing station constructed and operated with support from the Office of Fossil Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) was officially opened Monday at the Yeager Airport in Charleston, W.Va. The facility is an example of how domestically produced fuels may be used to power a variety of vehicles and equipment, lessening U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
The facility will produce, compress, store and dispense hydrogen as a fuel source for vehicles that have been converted to run on hydrogen, as well as other types of ground equipment at the airport.
Hydrogen is considered the fuel of the future because it does not produce air pollutants when used—clean water is the only byproduct. NETL directs research and development in hydrogen energy to resolve the challenges faced by many of its most promising technologies.
The Yeager facility uses coal-generated grid electricity to split water to produce pure hydrogen fuel. About 300 gallons of water is used to produce up to 12 kilograms of hydrogen per day, enough to completely refuel three vehicles. The fuel will be used by airport operations, the 130th Air Wing of the West Virginia Air National Guard, and the Charleston community. The fleet of vehicles that will use the dispensing station includes:
- A full-size Chevrolet Silverado pick-up truck that has been converted for hydrogen use;
- A mid-size pick-up truck that has the ability to run on hydrogen, gasoline, or a blend of the two;
- A full-size sport utility vehicle;
- A hydrogen-fueled fuel cell fork truck;
- A tug for moving aircraft; and
- A Gem electric vehicle with an integral hydrogen-fueled fuel cell for battery re-charging and range extension.
The facility at Yeager Airport is a research, development, test, and evaluation platform designed to allow new innovations in hydrogen technology to be "swapped in" and tested within the context of an operating hydrogen station.
The new hydrogen-dispensing facility is the first of three that are planned along Interstate-79 from Charleston, W.Va. to Pittsburgh, Pa. to demonstrate the viability of hydrogen as an alternative transportation fuel. Additional facilities will be constructed at West Virginia University in Morgantown, W.Va., and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.