West Virginia stands ready to move to the front of the alternative energy line, thanks to a $1.15 million grant to the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium to develop the state’s second hydrogen production-fueling station.

The station, to be located near Bicentennial House on Mileground Road, will be the northern terminus of a “hydrogen highway” between Yeager Airport in Charleston and Morgantown

“Hydrogen is being used as a fuel for passenger vehicles,” said Al Ebron, executive director of the NAFTC which submitted the project proposal. “It can be used in fuel cells to power electric motors or used in internal combustion engines. Hydrogen is currently only available at a handful of locations, mostly in California, so making it available in West Virginia will put the Mountain State at the forefront of a relatively new industry.”

By building and operating a new hydrogen fueling station in Morgantown, West Virginia University will demonstrate the efficiency of running automobiles on hydrogen fuel made from coal-powered electricity – a step that could help break America’s dependence on imported oil, use coal in an environmentally-sound manner, and keep the Mountain State at the forefront of another evolving energy industry.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory recently awarded NAFTC the competitive grant to develop and install equipment to produce and dispense hydrogen fuel along with a detailed testing and evaluation program.

The program is part of the WVU’s Advanced Energy Initiative, a campus-wide movement that focuses research efforts on addressing US and West Virginia energy challenges.

Curt M. Peterson, WVU vice president for Research and Economic Development, said the program will educate target audiences, beginning first in West Virginia, about the safe use of hydrogen and the potential for fossil fuel-to-hydrogen programs of NETL.

“The effort is unique in that it will support obtaining hydrogen fuel by using domestic fossil energy,” Ebron said.

“NETL envisions that in the long term, hydrogen will either be produced from coal, or coal will provide the electricity necessary for the production of hydrogen via electrolysis. Ultimately, the program could not only make hydrogen acceptable to the citizens of West Virginia, it could make West Virginia a leader in the use of hydrogen. The program could then be duplicated in other areas.”

The facility will produce the hydrogen from water by using an electric current to separate hydrogen and oxygen molecules — the two elements that make up water. The resulting hydrogen will be stored as a gas at a pressure of up to 5,000 psi. It will then be piped to a pump that looks much like a standard gas pump.

“This open architecture will support the evaluation of all the various components, devices, subsystems and systems for creating and dispensing hydrogen energy,” said.

Funding for the one-year award began Oct. 1 and will continue through Sept. 30, 2011. An anticipated second phase of the project will provide follow-on funding to complete the station and purchase hydrogen test vehicles. The total amount of the project, including $288,500 in cost share, is $1.4 million.

Phase one funding for the project will enable:

  • Site survey and site preparation
  • Purchase and installation of a building and weather cover to house the hydrogen fuel dispensing station
  • Procurement of an electrolyzer, buffer tank and chiller; a compressor; high-pressure storage composite tanks; electrical equipment and lighting; and grounding and lightning protection.

NAFTC is the nation’s only alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicle training organization, providing training infrastructure for implementing widespread use of alternative fuels, alternative fuel vehicles and advanced technology vehicles. The effort is focused on increasing America’s energy security, lessening its dependence on petroleum and improving air quality by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transportation systems.

NAFTC is a program of West Virginia University and consists of National Training Centers located nationwide from Maine to California. Each NTC provides “Training with Impact” through its experienced instructors and real world shop facilities. Including a current group of 50 higher education institutions, NAFTC is dedicated to informing and educating instructors, technicians, first responders, industry representatives and other interested groups about clean, cost-effective and energy efficient vehicles. For more information about the NAFTC and its programs, visit www.naftc.wvu.edu.


CONTACT: Judy Moore, National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium
304-293-7882 (o), 304-669-4870©; Judy.Moore@mail.wvu.edu

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