November 24, 2004 Honda R&D Americas and Plug Power have announced the successful operation of the second-generation Home Energy Station (HES II), a home-based hydrogen refuelling solution for fuel cell vehicles that furthers the development of a hydrogen infrastructure, and in turn, a sustainable energy future. HES II is the further evolution of a joint development effort by Honda and Plug Power to produce a home refuelling unit that provides hydrogen from natural gas for vehicle refuelling, heat for domestic hot water use and electricity for the home. Testing of the HES II system will be done in conjunction with demonstration of Honda's 2005 FCX fuel cell car on public roads in the Northeastern U.S.
Gizmag has previously covered the first generation HES announced back in 2003. The development of this new, more compact, HES II, along with operation of the Honda FCX and Honda FC Stack in sub-zero temperatures, represent significant advancements in this industry-leading program to develop advanced, real world, fuel cell vehicle and hydrogen refuelling solutions.
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"We feel that home refuelling could play an important role in the introduction of fuel cell technology and the development of a hydrogen refuelling infrastructure," said Ben Knight, Vice President Honda R&D Americas.
In a continuation of earlier research efforts with the first-generation HES station - located on the campus of Honda R&D Americas in Torrance, California, the HES II incorporates several subsystems which utilize Plug Power's proprietary technology.
By optimising production and storage of hydrogen for home use, the space needed for natural gas reformation and hydrogen compression is significantly reduced. Previously housed in two separate units, it has now been internalised into one, significantly smaller package that includes the natural gas reformer, hydrogen purifier, fuel cell stack, compressor, fuel storage and delivery system. This fully integrated system now provides improvements in overall operation and efficiency.
By testing the HES II in conjunction with the 2005 Honda FCX, Honda is taking another step forward in its comprehensive approach to advancement of both the vehicle and refuelling infrastructure components of a hydrogen-based transportation system.
Honda began demonstration of its 2005 FCX with the Honda FC Stack on public roads in the Northeast in September of this year.
The 2005 FCX, an advanced fuel cell vehicle, is the first production fuel cell vehicle to be powered by Honda's own fuel cell stack (Honda FC Stack) with the ability to start and operate in below-freezing temperatures, a significant breakthrough in fuel cell vehicle technology.
The FCX is the first and only fuel cell vehicle to receive certification from both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California Air Resources Board (CARB), and in December 2002 became the first fuel cell car leased for everyday commercial use.