Solar energy is being used to produce hydrogen fuel in California.TORRANCE, California, US, 2001-07-17 [SolarAccess.com] Solar energy is being used to produce hydrogen fuel in California. American Honda Motor Co. Inc. has started operation of the first hydrogen production and fueling station in the Los Angeles area. The facility is located at Honda’s research center in Torrance, and will support the automaker’s development program for fuel cell vehicles and will be used for hydrogen production, storage and fueling. The station uses solar power to extract hydrogen from water, and has back-up electrical power to increase the hydrogen production capacity. Available solar power can produce enough hydrogen to drive a single fuel cell vehicle for a year. “Fuel cell vehicles and hydrogen fuel have tremendous potential to contribute to the goals of sustainable transportation systems and the use of renewable energy,” says Ben Knight of Honda R&D Americas. “The development of a hydrogen fuel infrastructure is as important as the development of the vehicles themselves.” “This is the first hydrogen station established by an auto maker to use solar energy to extract hydrogen from water and it will help verify more efficient hydrogen production methods as well as help us solve the challenges involved with hydrogen production and fueling stations for the future,” he explains. The hydrogen station has features to provide safe and efficient refueling for fuel cell vehicles. Safety was a priority in the development of the station and it was built to standards for hydrogen systems developed by the National Fire Protection Agency. An infrared camera monitors operations and the system is designed to immediately shut down in the event of an earthquake. Solar cells are used to generate electricity, and a compressor pressurizes the hydrogen for storage in tanks. The system was developed by Honda engineers, some of whom had worked on Honda’s ‘Dream’ solar car development program. Honda fuel cell vehicles that are powered by hydrogen have been operational since 1999 and are participating in the California Fuel Cell Partnership program near Sacramento. The FCX V3 running on hydrogen was used as the pace vehicle for this year’s Los Angeles Marathon.