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Honda's next gen solar-powered hydrogen fuel cell station for home use


February 1, 2010

Honda has begun work on a domestic solar-powered hydrogen refueling station that is smaller and intended to fit within the home's garage for overnight charging of fuel cell EVs, like the Honda FCX Clarity

Honda has begun work on a domestic solar-powered hydrogen refueling station that is smaller and intended to fit within the home's garage for overnight charging of fuel cell EVs, like the Honda FCX Clarity

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Honda has begun work on a smaller solar hydrogen station prototype intended for use as a home refueling appliance. Capable of an overnight refill of fuel cell electric vehicles it is designed to be a single, integrated unit that will fit in the user's garage. Honda's next generation Solar Hydrogen Station, though not as big as the previous systems, will still produce enough hydrogen (0.5kg) via an eight-hour overnight fill for daily commuting (10,000 miles per year) for a fuel cell electric vehicle.

The company says its previous solar hydrogen station system required a bulky electrolyzer and a separate compressor unit to create high pressure hydrogen. The compressor was the largest and most expensive component and reduced system efficiency. By creating a new high differential pressure electrolyzer, Honda engineers have been able to eliminate the compressor entirely - a world's first for a home use system. This innovation also reduces the size of other key components to make the new station the world's most compact system, while improving system efficiency by more than 25 percent (value calculated based on simulations) compared to the solar hydrogen station system it replaces.

This will make the unit much more palatable for motorists with smaller-sized garages or apartment dwellers with shared parking facilities.

Designed to work in conjunction with Honda's FCX Clarity vehicle, the charging station is also compatible with a "Smart Grid" energy system. Honda says its Solar Hydrogen Station would enable users to refill their vehicle overnight without the requirement of hydrogen storage, which would lower CO2 emissions by using less expensive off-peak electrical power. Honda says that during daytime peak power times, the Solar Hydrogen Station can export renewable electricity to the grid, providing a cost benefit to the customer, while remaining energy neutral.

Engineered for an eight-hour, slow fill for overnight refilling of a fuel cell electric vehicle, the home-use Solar Hydrogen Station would replenish the hydrogen for a typical daily driving, meeting the commuting requirements of many drivers. As with the previous generation system, Honda says the hydrogen purity from the new station meets the highest SAE (J2719) and ISO (14687) specifications.

Solar power

Installed at the Los Angeles Center of Honda R&D; Americas, the new Solar Hydrogen Station will employ the identical Honda Soltec 48-panel, 6.0kW solar array that powered the previous system. The array utilizes thin film solar cells composed of copper, indium, gallium and selenium (CIGS).

A key strategy in Honda’s creation of a solar hydrogen station for home-use was to create a new lifestyle with convenient, clean, energy-efficient and sustainable home refueling, by addressing the need for refueling infrastructure that can advance the wider use of fuel cell electric vehicles by consumers.

Honda hopes the combination of a fuel cell electric vehicle and the solar hydrogen station will help lead to the establishment of a hydrogen society based on renewable energy, resulting in a major reduction of CO2 emissions and greater energy sustainability. No word yet on a testing schedule or availability.

Historically speaking …

Honda began operation of its first Solar Hydrogen Station at the Los Angeles Center of Honda R&D; Americas in 2001 with the creation of the three-unit system with hydrogen storage in July.

By October that year, Honda was working on a new two-unit system with an original Honda electrolyzer and a new solar array utilizing prototype Honda CIGS solar cells that offered improved system efficiency.

In August 2008, a solar array fitted with mass production CIGS cells from Honda Soltec Co., reduced the size of the array by 20 percent and further improved photo voltaic (PV) energy efficiency.

Now, a new single-unit station begins operation, improving to world's best system efficiency - increasing the efficiency by more than 25 percent (value calculated based on simulations) compared to the previous solar hydrogen station system, for a world's highest system efficiency.

The current research is taking place at the Los Angeles Center of Honda R&D; Americas, Inc.


I wouldn\'t want pressurized hydrogen gas in my back-yard. I would prefer algae based bio ethanol fuel cell electric car then a hydrogen FC car.

bio-power jeff

@bio-power jeff: you say you don\'t want pressurized hydrogen gas in your back-yard, but yet there is pressurized natural gas lines all around you already (for the typical suburb neighborhood). No problems there.

You may also have 240V electricity coming into your house for your dryer, and most have natural gas coming in to their house, too, for furnace, fireplace and dryer. All capable of killing, but typically don\'t... they\'re relatively safe.

Again... don\'t be afraid of technology... it\'s not that scary! Lots of engineering controls for safety.

You still drive don\'t you? That\'s the most dangerous thing you\'ll do all year: you have a 1 in 5000 chance of dying in a car wreck in the coming 12 months... and the same odds for every year thereafter. I don\'t think you need worry about the 1 in a million rare dangers from a hydrogen refueling station. In fact, I dont\' think anyone has ever died from a hydrogen refueling station accident.... :)


Again to bio-power jeff and all the other hydrogen-phobes in the world,

The Hindenburg accident took place in 1937. Back then, I am led to believe, hydrogen was stored in rubber bladders; technology has moved forwards since.

Personally I am pro-hydrogen in a big way; you can produce all the hydrogen you want to in my backyard if I\'m allowed a supply. Electric cars need large, weighty, toxic batteries to run on. Apart from the environmental issues of heavy-metal batteries, my mechanic reckons they have to pump out massive currents too, enough to fry any living beast in a nanosecond. So there is another safety issue that you hydrogen-phobes may have to reckon on.

Part of my bias toward hydrogen can be attributed to the sound of an internal combustion engine. I should admit to being a mild petrol-head and I don\'t expect to hear any spunky sounds from electric vehicles. But I particularly like the idea of a comparatively non-toxic hydrogen-vehicle compared to a big nasty battery which presently has an expected life of a decade at most.

Lastly, and I may be entirely mistaken on this one, but I believe that some petrol engines would be suitable for hydrogen conversion. If this is true, I hope you can see the advantages.

I expect that both types of vehicle will get a start initially, each with their strengths and weaknesses.


The efficiency of this technology will depend upon the pace of further improvement of high pressure electrolysis which is a somewhat slow process in the current state of development.

S P S Sabharwal

The thing about hydrogen is, its complete combustion or its use in a fuel cell yields no CO2 emissions. Algae-produced biofuels are nice because they can offset the need for hazardous drilling operations (if implemented on a large scale), but oxidation of ethanol still produces CO2. Hydrogen is the only fuel that does not produce CO2, because hydrogen is the only fuel containing no carbon.

By the way, algae can also be engineered to produce hydrogen.

And as other have pointed out, fear of hydrogen is absurd. Hydrogen is no more dangerous than any other fuel. Of course they are explosive. They are fuel.

Sam Underwood
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