PRODUCTION of hydrogen is not the challenge in using hydrogen as a new transportation fuel. BP’s Kwinana refinery is producing up to 80 tonnes of hydrogen each day.
BP Australia environment affairs director Colin Gomm said this was sufficient to refuel 240,000 fuel cell cars.
However, BP Kwinana consumes all its hydrogen in the oil refining process.
The hydrogen is produced at low cost during processing using a method known as steam methane reforming.
This same method will be used by BP Kwinana to produce the hydrogen for the Western Australian Government’s fuel cell bus trial.
The fuel for the bus trial will not be produced from renewable sources, but from hydrocarbons.
The trial will, however, be a test for the delivery of hydrogen for vehicle use.
BP Kwinana will pipe the hydrogen across the road to BOC.
The gas will be purified to a higher level than that needed for oil refinery and compressed for delivery in tankers to a bus depot in Malaga.
Mr Gomm said taking the refinery hydrogen and purifying it would be a unique trial but so would the depot storage and dispensing. He said there was no clear preferred refuelling technology anywhere in the world.
Safety and convenience remain challenges and delivery is expensive.
BP general manager hydrogen Mike Jones said hydrogen produced at $US8/GigaJoule cost at least 10 times this amount for delivery by tankers as compressed gas.
The cost for the trial facility at Malaga is as yet undetermined, however, a California refuelling station that dispenses one quarter of the daily amount of equivalent conventional fuel dispensed has cost $US1 million.
BP has set a $US400,000 target for single hydrogen dispensers at 300-car US service stations.
The WA bus trial is just one of several pre-commercial hydrogen-powered vehicle demonstrations worldwide in which BP is participating.
The company has plans to have hydrogen refuelling stations in Berlin, Los Angeles and Singapore within a year for hydrogen fuel cell car trials.