SMUD Opens Fuel-Cell Car Fueling Station

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The station is actually a research project. The goal is to find out just how useful this technology can be. JoAnn Milliken (MILL-eh-kin) is with the U-S Department of Energy which is involved in the venture. 

"We’re especially excited about this station because it’s the first DOE sponsored station in California that’s operating on solar power." 

As the station’s solar panels make electricity, an electro-lyzer uses that energy to separate water and hydrogen to make clean fuel. The station’s fuel pumps look a lot like what you would use to fill up a regular car. 

"It’s just like filling up a gas tank. You’re just flowing hydrogen in its gaseous state rather than gasoline in its fluid state and then the only thing that comes out of that tailpipe is water."  

Daniel Garinger is a fuel-cell program manager with SMUD. He says the state Air Resources Board’s decision last week to slash the number of emission-free vehicles that automakers must build in the next six years…won’t have any impact on the project. 

"It’s a political game and there’s going to be ups and downs and it’s just a part of the rollercoaster." 

Since fuel-cell vehicles are not commercially available yet, the fuel produced at the station will power SMUD’s fuel-cell fleet.