Late last week, startup firm SunHydro opened what it claims is the nation’s first public-use hydrogen refueling station. We suspect that SunHydro’s play on words allows it claim that this station, unlike the roughly 70 other H2 stations nationwide, is somehow different and thus justifies its claim of “nation’s first,” but we just don’t see its uniqueness. Therefore, we’ll take the cautious approach and call SunHydro’s station in Wallingford, CT one of a few in the U.S. that offer public access to hydrogen.
SunHydro’s unit utilizes energy captured from an array of photovoltaic solar cells to split water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen. This resulting hydrogen is ready to be pumped into one of a limited number of vehicles that make use of the gas, either to generate electricity like the Honda FCX Clarity and most other fuel cell vehicles do, or to burn it directly in the engine like BMW’s hydrogen-powered 7 Series can. We don’t envision many of the aforementioned vehicles pulling up for a fill with any degree of regularity, but four transit buses from nearby Hartford will use of the station on a daily basis. At least it’s comforting to know that the next time you venture to Connecticut in hydrogen-fed vehicle, refueling won’t be a problem.