From next month the Chena Hot Springs Resort in Alaska will take a huge leap forward and begin to use hydrogen as its energy source for a number of amenities, says the resort's energy expert Gwen Holdmann.
Following the successful completion and operation of its ground-breaking geothermal power project, the resort will now turn to hydrogen as a positive replacement for propane in its cooking facilities, clothes dryers and gas fireplaces.
There are also plans to use hydrogen to fuel its vehicles that bring both passengers and supplies into the resort from Fairbanks, though this may not immediately be implemented.
The hydrogen projects would make Chena Hot Springs the first in the state to use hydrogen energy, according to David Lockard of the Alaska Energy Authority.
Last year, the resort, owned by entrepreneur Bernie Karl, installed the first geothermal power plant in the state.
The hydrogen projects will rely on surplus electricity generated by the resort's two geothermal plants and an electrolyser from a defunct University of Alaska fuel cell project, according to Holdmann. At low pressure, the hydrogen will be mixed with propane and used for cooking and drying. Compressed, it will be used in vehicles.
While much of the talk around hydrogen involves fuel cells, which operate without combustion, Holdmann said the gas can also be used in modified combustion engines. This would also be deemed eco-friendly as burning hydrogen in a combustion engine offers the same benefits a fuel cell does, without emitting carbon dioxide, the main gas linked to global warming.
Holdmann said the resort is still considering its options for the transportation part and has applied for grants.
The Chena Hot Springs Resort celebrated its 100 year anniversary as recently as 2005 and is regarded as the most accessible and developed hot spring resort in Alaska's interior, famous in its early history for curing crippled prospectors of their aches and pains.