SimpleFuel earns $1 Million prize for home hydrogen refuelling station

SimpleFuel has been awarded a $1million prize by the US Department of Energy for building a hydrogen home-fuelling station that emits nothing but oxygen.

One of the concerns with hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles (FCV) when compared to electric vehicles is the CO2 emissions involved in the production of hydrogen. However this latest innovation could be a future solution.

The H2 Refuel H-Prize prize had been announced back in November 2014 to “challenge America’s innovators to deploy an on-site hydrogen generation system, using electricity or natural gas, to fuel hydrogen vehicles, that can be used in homes, community centres, small businesses, or similar locations.”

The station is an eight-foot tall box that uses a home’s electricity supply to electrolyse water, storing the hydrogen into a 5 kg carbon-fibre tank while venting the oxygen into the atmosphere. That makes it a zero-carbon method of producing hydrogen assuming the home’s electricity comes from a renewable generation source.

According to SimpleFuel, a 1 kg refill takes under 15 minutes. That makes it slower than the refuelling stations you can find around California, but perfectly usable for home use where the vehicle can simply refuel overnight.

It’s early days yet to assess the widespread viability of such a station or how much it would cost to install, but it does show that producing hydrogen is possible without having to resort to pulling it out of methane.