Developing Hydrogen Fueling Stations and Demonstrating Fuel Cell Technology

GTI built and demonstrated the first hydrogen station that relied purely on “renewable natural gas” to support BMW’s fuel cell forklift operations at its vehicle assembly plant near Greenville, SC.

In a first-of-its-kind demonstration at BMW’s manufacturing plant, project partners DOE, BMW, Ameresco, GTI, and the South Carolina Research Authority powered some of the facility’s fuel cell forklifts with hydrogen produced on-site from biomethane gas delivered to the site from a nearby landfill. There was no detectable difference in performance of forklifts fueled with hydrogen produced from landfill gas compared to those fueled with commercial hydrogen produced from water and delivered to the site.

A project has been successfully completed between GTI and the Department of Defense to condition wastewater treatment biogas into a high-quality biomethane fuel that is converted to hydrogen (via steam reforming) to operate military base vehicles using hydrogen-powered fuel cells. Hydrogen generated at Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s (JBLM)’s water treatment plant in Washington state was used to power 19 fuel cell forklifts and a fuel cell shuttle bus for a 12-month demonstration. GTI designed, built and installed the waste gas clean-up system and hydrogen generation infrastructure at JBLM.

In 2012, Capital Metro and the University of Texas Center for Electromechanics (UT-CEM) in Austin began operating a hydrogen hybrid bus as a part of a year-long demonstration to test and further refine fuel-cell technology for public transit. The bus fueled daily at a state-of-the-art hydrogen fueling station designed by GTI. The station allows for the on-site generation of hydrogen from pipeline natural gas, compression, storage and dispensing of high-pressure hydrogen. A vital component of the fueling technology is GTI’s patented small-scale steam methane reformation (SMR) process for hydrogen generation. The technology emphasizes compact size using low-cost materials and simple construction as well as effective heat integration to achieve high hydrogen content and high efficiency.

The Missouri University of Science & Technology worked with GTI to provide a mobile hydrogen unit (MHU) for fueling in Rolla, MO in 2011. The self-contained unit incorporated GTI’s patented fuel processing technology to produce hydrogen from natural gas. The MHU also contained other necessary equipment such as hydrogen purification, compression, and storage.

A separate hydrogen dispenser (with HydroFill) was used to fuel Ford hydrogen-fueled shuttle bus vehicles. The hydrogen fueling station was remotely monitored by GTI and allowed for continuous availability 24 hours per day, seven days per week. The demonstration concluded after 12 months.

GTI and the Center for Transportation and the Environment (CTE) in Atlanta were chosen by the Carolina Research Association (SCRA) to design and install hydrogen fueling facilities in the greater Columbia, South Carolina area. The facilities were used during the National Hydrogen Association conference and the Columbia Fuel Cell Challenge in spring 2009. Since 2007, GTI has hosted a publicly-accessible hydrogen fueling station at its headquarters in Des Plaines, Illinois.

In 2006, GTI worked with the University of Texas at Austin to put the first hydrogen fuel cell bus on the road in the state and install the first permanent hydrogen fueling station at the J.J. Pickle Research Center in Austin, Texas.

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