Hydrogen fueling stations may create green contracting work

Construction has begun on Long Island's first hydrogen fueling station. This spring, a company called Air Products Technology is scheduled to begin providing three alternative fuels to a fleet of vehicles operated by the Town of Hempstead, N.Y.

Hempstead, N.Y. — Construction has begun on Long Island's first hydrogen fueling station. This spring, a company called Air Products Technology is scheduled to begin providing three alternative fuels to a fleet of vehicles operated by the Town of Hempstead, N.Y. Air Products is a member of this alternative fuel green energy initiative, along with the Town of Hempstead, the New York State Energy Research Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the National Grid.

The promise of hydrogen-powered vehicles has been known for years. Vehicles running on hydrogen — powered by either hydrogen fuel cells or from reinforced tanks of the compressed gas — burn clean. Water is the only byproduct of hydrogen combustion, making it the ideal green energy choice. Barriers to the adoption of hydrogen technology have included the efficient, cost-effective electrolysis of hydrogen; reducing the weight and improving the performance of hydrogen fuel cells; and safety concerns on compressed-gas tanks.

But the largest barrier, as with the adoption of any new transport fuel, has been giving the early adopters of the technology a place to fuel up. Electric and hybrid-electric cars can plug in overnight at most locations. Even vehicles running on natural gas have a string of fueling stations in most urban areas. But that's not currently the case with hydrogen.

The goals of the Hempstead project are to demonstrate, evaluate and educate people about the potential of hydrogen technology. That technology, at its most basic level, involves an electrolyzer, storage and compression systems, and multiple fueling dispensers.

For plumbing and piping contractors, the success of the project could mean a lot of high-end, high-tolerance installation work, with a strong emphasis on safety.

Future stations will be able to provide hydrogen, a hydrogen and compressed natural gas (HCNG) blend, and compressed natural gas for alternative fueled vehicles. Air Products is supplying the fueling technology and hydrogen infrastructure for the demonstration project. The electrolyzer is provided by Proton Energy Systems.

“We expect to begin commissioning the fueling station this spring,” said Bruce Luff, business development manager of Hydrogen Energy Systems at Air Products. “Our dispensing technology has the capability to provide hydrogen generated from multiple sources and has been used in other projects around the world that supply hydrogen generated from electrolysis, including electrolysis driven by solar and wind methods. We congratulate the Town of Hempstead and all the New York agencies involved with this green energy demonstration project.”

“The construction of the first hydrogen fueling station on Long Island demonstrates our commitment to reducing reliance on traditional fossil fuels and improving our air quality through the use of cleaner alternate energies. It is a step toward breaking free of unclean conventional forms of energy,” said Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray.

Air Products has placed more than 90 hydrogen fueling stations in the U.S. and 16 countries worldwide.