Hydropower, Monitoring, Solar

Solar Energy Produces Hydrogen in California

Humboldt State University has started to completely retrofit the control system of a major solar energy facility that can produce hydrogen.

TRINIDAD, California, US, 2001-04-02 <SolarAccess.com> A university in California has started to completely retrofit the control system of a major solar energy facility that can produce hydrogen. The Schatz Solar Hydrogen Project at Humboldt State University includes 192 solar photovoltaic modules that generate 9 kW of electricity. It also has a 7 kW electrolyzer that can produce 20 standard of hydrogen per minute and three 500 gallon tanks for storing hydrogen at 100 psi. The other components include a 1.5 kW proton exchange membrane fuel cell and three separate computers to perform automated control and monitoring. Although the current system has run unattended since 1994, a complete retrofit of the control systems was started this year. The three control computers will be replaced by a single integrated system that will allow visitors to get a better look at how the system powers the air compressor that aerates the aquarium at Humboldt’s Telonicher Marine lab in Trinidad, California. The fuel cell will also be replaced by a new model. The Schatz solar hydrogen project is a full-time, automated standalone energy system that uses energy from the sun to power the compressor and to produce hydrogen that will be used to power the compressor when the sun is not available. The end result is that the aquarium air bubbler is powered 24 hours a day by solar energy. The PV panels generate electricity which is used in two ways: to power the air compressor directly, or to power an electrolyzer that splits water into hydrogen and oxygen. The oxygen gas is vented to the atmosphere and the hydrogen gas is stored in tanks behind the lab. When the PV panels do not receive sufficient sunlight to power the compressor, the system automatically shifts to fuel cell operation.