Air Products has announced it has signed an agreement to be the hydrogen fuelling station and technology supplier for FirstElement Fuel’s initial network of 19 hydrogen-fuelling stations to be built throughout California in 2015. 

The SmartFuel® hydrogen fuelling stations will be supplied to FirstElement Fuel following the company’s success in winning multiple grants through the California Energy Commission’s (CEC) hydrogen-fuelling program. Air Products will also be the hydrogen supplier for all 19 stations, which will be open to the public at a time when several vehicle manufacturers prepare to launch fuel cell vehicles into the California market in 2015.

“This is recognition of Air Products’ innovative hydrogen capabilities. Our hydrogen fuelling station technology is a product that has a small footprint, can be placed on-site at existing retail gasoline fuelling stations, and is also cost-effective. We are excited to be a part of the project team and to have been selected by FirstElement Fuel to supply the station infrastructure and the hydrogen fuel for this impressive effort,” said Ed Kiczek, global business director – Hydrogen Energy Systems at Air Products. Mr. Kiczek added that this is the second of three hydrogen station product lines to be introduced in the retail space by Air Products.

Commenting, Diana Raine, European Business Manager, Hydrogen Energy Systems, Air Products, said, “This is an exciting opportunity for us to expand our network of SmartFuel® stations across California, deploying state of the art standardised refueling technology. Hydrogen fuel has an important role to play in the future transport mix, and its benefits have already been demonstrated by our existing projects, both in California and here in London. Creating this wider network of fuelling stations will allow fuel cell vehicles, when they are deployed on a mass scale, to be put immediately into practical use.”

“After assessing a variety of equipment technologies and providers, we chose Air Products for their superior performance, and innovation,” said Dr. Tim Brown, COO of FirstElement Fuel.  “These will be retail stations so their performance needs to be impeccable. Air Products has a proven track record in this industry from both a safety and reliability standpoint.”

Beyond the coming network of 19 FirstElement Fuel stations, Air Products has nine existing SmartFuel stations in the state already fuelling cars in public and private use.  It is in the process of adding nine more locations from previous CEC program fuelling station awards, with those stations featuring the company’s first hydrogen station product line.  In addition, Air Products operates three hydrogen-powered forklift fuelling stations in the state.  When all of these stations are onstream, Air Products’ hydrogen fuelling technology will be in place at 40 California locations.

All 19 stations for FirstElement Fuel will be SmartFuel stations, providing hydrogen fuelling at 700-bar (10,000 psi) and include Air Products’ technology referenced in the SAE J2601 hydrogen fuelling protocol. Air Products has available several SmartFuel station concepts incorporating modular and expandable technology and holds an entire portfolio of global patents, with additional patents pending, related to the advancements to be deployed under this program. Additionally, this novel patented supply system to cost-effectively seed early markets with fuelling infrastructure in California is able to be deployed anywhere in the US. 

The stations will also include Air Products’ advanced consumer-friendly retail hydrogen fuel dispenser.  The new Air Products offering, developed by the company in conjunction with Bennett Pump Co., is the market’s first fully-integrated retail hydrogen dispenser, mirrors traditional consumer gasoline fuelling and payment practices, and is readily available to meet consumer expectations of refilling hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles in a safe, fast, reliable, and familiar manner.