Photo courtesy of HNEI.

Photo courtesy of HNEI.

The Hawaii Natural Energy Institute has commissioned a fast-fill, high-pressure hydrogen fueling station at the Marine Corps base in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.

The station was developed to support a fleet of Chevrolet Equinox fuel cell SUVs leased by the Office of Naval Research for use by Marine Corps and Navy personnel on Oahu, according to the institute.

Operational since November 2014, the station was recently certified for unattended operation, allowing drivers to self-fill their cars just as they would do at any gasoline fueling station. Unattended operation is designed serve as a model for the installation of private stations throughout the state.

The cost of hydrogen at the nozzle is a major challenge for hydrogen production and dispensing stations. For this project, the institute is conducting research to assess the technical performance and economic value of an electrolyzer-based hydrogen production system in a 350/700 bar fast-fill (under 5 minutes) fueling station. The technical analysis will include component efficiencies under various operating scenarios and the long-term durability of major components.

Economic analysis is also being conducted to determine the daily operating cost of the station and the overall cost benefits of producing hydrogen. The dual fill pressure capability will allow this station to service light-duty vehicles that have largely been designed to use high pressure (700 bar) hydrogen storage, as well as larger fleet vehicles, such as buses, that are usually designed for lower pressure (350 bar), according to the institute.

“We have been really impressed with the fill speed and control algorithms of the hydrogen station,” said Chris Colquitt, General Motors’ Hawaii site leader. “It is exciting to experience consistent 4-minute 700 bar fills.”

The fast-fill hydrogen station is part of the Hawaii Hydrogen Power Park project established by the institute to support the U.S. Department of Energy’s Technology Validation Program. Funding support for the project has been provided by the DOE, the State of Hawaii, and the Office of Naval Research.