Honda Fuel Cell, Solar Energy Progress

Honda R&D Co., Honda’s subsidiary responsible for research and development activities, has established an experimental Home Energy Station (HES) that generates hydrogen from natural gas for use in fuel cell vehicles while supplying electricity and hot water to the home.

Torrance, California – October 6, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] The new HES system that has been jointly developed with strategic fuel cell partner Plug Power Inc. is located on the grounds of Honda R&D Americas in Torrance, California, and will undergo experiments in hydrogen production, storage and fueling, as part of ongoing research into hydrogen energy sources. The new HES system, which can currently produce enough hydrogen to refill the tank of a Honda FCX hydrogen fuel cell vehicle taking just a few minutes once a day, consists of the following major processes and components: a reformer to extract hydrogen from natural gas; a fuel cell unit to provide power for the overall system that utilizes some of the extracted hydrogen; a refiner to purify the hydrogen; a compressor for pressurizing the extracted hydrogen; and a high pressure tank unit to store the pressurized hydrogen. Honda also announced the development of triple-junction solar cell panels made by Honda Engineering, a Honda subsidiary. The new solar panels feature a light-absorbing layer formed by a compound made of copper, indium, gallium and selenium (CIGS) which lowers the amount of electricity required for production process of solar cells, compared with ordinary silicone-crystal type solar cells. The electrolysis unit, which generates hydrogen from water, has been replaced with a new Honda-developed compact unit that achieves higher efficiency using a new Ruthenium based catalyst. Both the new solar cells and the new electrolysis unit are mounted on the Honda solar-cell powered hydrogen refueling station in Torrance, California to improve the total efficiency. Honda said they have long held the view that hydrogen fuel cell power has the potential to be the next-generation power plant needed to overcome problems related to the development of alternative fuels, reducing exhaust gas emissions, and reducing the effects of global warming. Honda is researching ways to improve the energy efficiency of the hydrogen fuel production process and vehicle efficiency.

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