Proton OnSite Achieves Milestone in Hydrogen Electrolyser Technology for Refuelling of Fuel Cell Vehicles

01 Jun 2012

Proton OnSite ElectrolyserProton OnSite has announced that its latest project with the US Department of Energy (DOE) has yielded a proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyser stack that can produce hydrogen gas at the pressure required to fuel a vehicle, without the need for a compressor.

The high-differential pressure PEM stack can safely generate hydrogen gas at 5,000 pounds per square inch (350 bar) without the need for a compressor, and while releasing the outgoing oxygen gas at atmospheric pressure. Proton OnSite, a leading supplier of on-site gas generators using PEM technology, began collaborating with the DOE in February 2010 on Phase I; with this achievement, Proton OnSite will successfully end Phase II in August 2012.

Currently, fuel cell buses and some passenger cars require hydrogen gas at 5,000 psi/350 bar, which is usually reached by attaching a compressor to the refueller. Achieving this pressure in the electrolyser instead means that the compressor, which is a capital- and maintenance-intensive piece of equipment, can be eliminated. This would allow stations to pass these savings onto drivers of fuel cell vehicles through lower fuel costs.

“This advancement helps create the technological foundation for an affordable and reliable refuelling infrastructure across the country,” says Mark Schiller, vice president of business development at Proton OnSite. “These electrolyzers represent a big leap toward attaining that goal, while cementing PEM electrolyzers’ position as the choice technology for large-scale hydrogen production, which will continue to evolve.”

PEM electrolyzers work by running a current through a solid polymer electrolyte, which through electrolysis draws a hydrogen ion (proton) from deionised water and through the membrane. These ions combine at the other end of the membrane to produce hydrogen gas, leaving oxygen on the other side. Manufacturers who are currently developing fuel cells to power the next generation of automobiles are using this same PEM technology in reverse.

Reference: Proton OnSite

Photo: Proton OnSite

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