North Dakota State University's North Central Research Center, Basin Electric Power Cooperative and other partners are planning a station to refuel hydrogen-powered vehicles using wind power.
MINOT, N.D. North Dakota State University's North Central Research Center, Basin Electric Power Cooperative and other partners are planning a station here to refuel hydrogen-powered vehicles using wind power.
North Central Research Extension Director Jay Fisher said the electrolyzer-based refueling station will be on research center property south of Minot. Ontario-based Hydrogenics Corp., which is providing the equipment, said the project is expected to be operating later this year.
The electrolyzer process, powered by the wind, puts electricity into water and splits it into hydrogen and oxygen, Hydrogenics spokeswoman Jane Dalziel said. The hydrogen then can be used for fuel, she said.
"From stem to stern, it's a clean process," she said.
"We're ready to go," Fisher said. "This is the spot -- Minot, N.D. This is where it (research) is going to be done. This is a great fit for us because agriculture uses a lot of energy and produces a lot of energy. Research is what we do."
Basin Electric owns two wind turbines south of Minot along U.S. 83.
Fisher said the research center got involved in the project because of its location between the wind turbines and because of the research aspect of it.
"Right now, we have an issue in North Dakota storing and transmitting the wind power we produce," he said. "Our transmission grids just aren't large enough. We need to find a way to store that excess energy."
The Minot center is getting a hydrogen-powered forklift, Fisher said, and the technology is available to operate other hydrogen-fueled vehicles, even city buses.
The project was sponsored by the federal Energy Department and announced by Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., its organizers said.
Basin spokesman Daryl Hill said the next step will be evaluating what types of vehicles to use at the station.
The electrolyzer is about the size of a room, Dalziel said. Other refueling stations have been opened around the world, but hydrogen technology is still in its early stage, she said.
"This is an opportunity to show the practicality of hydrogen as a fuel," she said.
"It's pretty new," Dalziel said. "The one at Minot is definitely on the leading edge."
Source: Associated Press