Tap Water to Hydrogen Potential

Hydrogen might not be the favorite energy carrier of some, but industry and government are determined to figure out the role of hydrogen gas as a fossil fuel replacement.

DTE Energy has opened their $3 million Hydrogen Technology Park to further the company’s research into the commercial viability of hydrogen as a replacement fuel for homes, businesses and automobiles. “We don’t know when, or to what extent, hydrogen will become integrated into the country’s energy system,” Anthony F. Earley, Jr., DTE Energy chairman and CEO, said at the park’s dedication event. “It’s likely to take years, if not decades, to fully develop hydrogen technologies.” DTE has partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the state of Michigan and the city of Southfield to develop, build and operate the hydrogen production pilot project. Current technology for producing hydrogen requires fossil fuels as a base to remove hydrogen gas from. Research at the park will attempt to remove hydrogen from tap water, according to the company press release, and the process will be powered by electricity from a combination of grid power and on-site solar photovoltaic cells. The facility is capable of delivering 100,000 kWh of electricity per year, which is enough to power a small office complex and several fuel cell vehicles per day. The project cost was shared equally by DTE and the DOE, and is part of President George W. Bush’s Hydrogen Fuel Initiative. Over the next five years the initiative will fund $1.7 billion worth of research and development into ways to make the nation’s energy system cleaner and more efficient. DTE also has a partnership with DaimlerChrysler and British Petroleum (BP) called Hydrogen to the Highways, and the program is designed to test DaimlerChrysler fuel cell vehicles and develop a corresponding hydrogen re-fueling infrastructure. Other collaborators in the Hydrogen Technology Park are Lawrence Technological University, Michigan Economic Development and six DTE Energy subsidiaries. “Together, we are learning, evaluating, revising and moving forward,” Earley said. “This is a familiar position for DTE Energy. Our track record of successfully developing expertise in diverse energy sources and technologies has already distinguished us among energy companies across the country.”