In addition to providing hydrogen, the process, taking place at the Orange County Sanitation District in Fountain Valley, Calif., also provides electricity and heat.
At the sanitation plant, the wastewater sits in holding tanks, creating methane gas. This methane enters a purification system and then feeds into a fuel cell, built by FuelCell Energy, Inc. where it is reformed to hydrogen.
The fuel cell produces clean electricity for use at the OCSD facility, and the heat created can also be directed to several site uses. Excess hydrogen not converted to electricity leaves the unit and is further purified to make it vehicle grade for fuel cell automobile fueling, via Air Products’ technology.
The facility will produce enough hydrogen to fill 25 to 50 fuel cell vehicles per day and generate 250 kilowatts of electricity daily, according to Air Products. The company says that this technology is the first of its kind in the world.