Portable hydrogen fuel cell generator
Camden and Croydon Council have joint ownership of a 5kW portable hydrogen fuel cell generator, funded by Transport of London.
The project is being carried out in partnership with the London Hydrogen Partnership, the Vehicle and Operating Services Agency (VOSA) and Air Products Ltd.
The portable fuel cell generator will be used for the following applications:
- to power roadside vehicle emissions testing equipment operated by VOSA and Camden’s air quality team
- to power lighting and sound equipment at Council events like our Green Fair and Car Free Day
- as temporary back up power source at our transport depot
The fuel cell generator is housed in a trailer which can be towed by a vehicle, making the system portable. The trailer will be transported around the borough by Camden’s Modec electric van. All our staff who operate the fuel cell have received training regarding the handling and storage hydrogen by Logan Energy, the company who maintain our fuel cell.
We are keen for other local authorities and organisations to use our portable fuel cell generator for temporary power at their events. For further information please contact the Air Quality Policy Officer
How does the fuel cell work?
The generator works using a Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell, manufactured by Plug Power. This type of fuel cell is ideal for transportation applications. The fuel cell generator is fuelled directly by compressed hydrogen gas stored onboard the trailer. The fuel cell generator converts chemical energy into electricity using hydrogen and oxygen from air. A fuel cell essentially works like a battery.
- When a hydrogen atom (from the fuel source) contacts the negative anode catalyst layer, it splits into a proton and an electron
- The proton passes straight through the central electrolyte layer, while the electron produces electricity as it passes through an external circuit
- The circuit returns the electrons to the positive side of the electrolyte layer, where they bond again with the protons and join with an oxygen molecule, creating water in the positive cathode catalyst layer
Why use hydrogen fuel cells?
Conventional generators are powered by diesel combustion producing air pollution and noise. Fuel cell generators are electro-chemical devices that produce zero emissions and the only waste product is water. These appliances also generate no noise when operating.
Adopting non-fossil fuel based power sources is an important route to reducing CO2 emissions, and harmful air pollution which contributes to poor air quality. Fuel cells are very efficiency devices which brings about benefits in terms of energy savings and emissions reductions.
How is hydrogen produced?
The two most common methods of producing hydrogen are steam reformation or electrolysis (splitting water). Hydrogen can be produced for a variety of carbon based products including methanol and biogas. An important step in the future will be to produce hydrogen using renewable energy sources.
Hydrogen fuel cells can be used in a variety of transport applications including cars, buses and bicycles. Hydrogen fuel cell buses where introduced on the streets of London as part of a two-year European-wide trial of the technology in 2005. The Mayor is considering introducing additional fuel-cell buses.
Other countries such as the United States, Germany, Japan and Iceland are working towards a 'hydrogen economy', and all major vehicle manufacturers now have hydrogen-powered vehicles in development.
Fuel cells are also used for stationary and temporary power sources. One of the most beneficial uses of fuel cells, in terms of carbon savings and reducing air pollution emissions, is with Combined Heat and Power Plant (CHP).
Page last updated Oct 28, 2008 12:26 PM
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