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‘Tri-gen’ produces clean hydrogen, electricity, water for Toyota

The biogas, which is 60 percent methane and 40 percent carbon dioxide, arrives by pipeline from a facility in Victorville, Calif. The sulfur compounds are removed, and the gas is immediately saturated with water to help remove other contaminants. It’s then heated to more than 1,000 degrees using waste heat from the fuel cell stacks. The humidified methane then flows into fuel cell modules, where it is converted to hydrogen and electricity, said Paul Fukumoto, director of technology and product solutions with FuelCell Energy.

The mix of hydrogen and electricity production can be adjusted as needed and as demand warrants, Fukumoto said.

“If we weren’t diverting [energy] to processing the hydrogen, we would be producing enough electricity to be able to power about 2,800 homes,” Fukumoto said. In previous models, the hydrogen generated “would be recirculated for heat and efficiency” within the fuel cell modules, “but now there’s a need for that hydrogen outside of the fuel cell” to power both the imported Mirais and semis used at the port.

“This is truly a zero-emission fueling center,” Fukumoto said. “Low carbon electricity, low carbon hydrogen, and they’re both renewable, with virtually zero [nitrogen oxide], the precursor to smog.”

Yamauchi said the success and scalability of the Tri-gen plant in Long Beach has Toyota looking at the technology for larger applications, including at its North American manufacturing operations, where similar plants, scaled up, could dramatically impact their carbon footprint, as well as serve as a hedge against inflation.

“We love the sustainability value chain, but from a financial standpoint, from a cost standpoint, the fixed price for power [from Tri-gen] is a 20-year contract, and it’s just about half of what we’d be paying Southern California Edison. We know where their prices are going to go over time,” Yamauchi said. “This is a great hedge for us.” ‘Tri-gen’ produces clean hydrogen, electricity, water for Toyota

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