Honda has developed and put into operation a new solar-powered hydrogen station at its Los Angeles research centre that can refill the Honda FCX Clarity fuel cell vehicle.
The new station delivers a trickle of hydrogen, designed to put half a kilogram into the FCX Clarity's tank over an eight-hour period. Enough, according to Honda, for most drivers' daily commutes. The FCX has a hydrogen capacity of 4.1 kilograms and a range of about 460km, so half a kilogram will allow it to operate for about 56km.
Honda had previously developed a number of hydrogen filling station prototypes, but most were inefficient because they required a compressor to squeeze the hydrogen gas. The new station combines compressor and electrolyser into what Honda calls a "high differential pressure electrolyser".
While the station can use electricity from its 6-kilowatt solar panel array to power the electrolyser and generate hydrogen, Honda envisions that most people will hook their FCX Claritys up to the hydrogen station overnight and use non-peak electricity from the grid. In this scenario, the solar panels would send electricity back into the grid during the day, while the FCX's owner is at work.
Given the slow fill rate of the hydrogen from this station, public hydrogen stations, which can fill the tanks in five minutes, would still be needed for longer trips.
Check out our Honda FCX Clarity photo gallery for more information.
For more information on fuel cells and other alternative fuels, visit our future fuels feature.