When you think about the future of fueling cars, chances are your mind may drift to dreams of electric or hydrogen. Although plugging your car in sounds straight forward enough, where are they going to get all of that hydrogen for fuel? In a story by Julia Pyper and ClimateWire on Scientific American, the bathrooms of America may be a new frontier for automobile gas in the future.
The article said in one suburb of Los Angeles, the world’s first “tri-generation” plant is converting sewage into electrical power. While some of this energy is going to an industrial facility, another part is going to renewable hydrogen for fuel.
The system runs on anaerobically digested biogas from the Orange County Sanitation District's municipal wastewater treatment plant. A 300-kilowatt-hour molten carbonate fuel cell uses the biogas to produce heat, electricity and hydrogen—making it a "tri-generation" system.
Hydrogen produced by the fuel cell is captured, compressed and sent to an on-site public hydrogen filling station for fuel-cell vehicles (FCVs) to use. The energy station produces approximately 100 kilograms of renewable hydrogen per day, which is enough to fuel up to 50 cars.
Jack Brouwer, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of California, Irvine, who has been working with FuelCell Energy on this project calls it “his baby” and loves the progress he has seen since the project started 13 years ago.
Read more about this topic in the second part of a three-part series on Scientific American. Here is the first part of the series.