20131015-Mutolo-600x298.jpg

Renewable hydrogen to power fuel-cell vehicles can be as affordable as diesel fuel, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 60 percent. 

Hydrogen Fuel, Cheap as Diesel

April 14, 2015

20131015-Mutolo-600x298.jpg

Renewable hydrogen to power fuel-cell vehicles can be as affordable as diesel fuel, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 60 percent.

A team of Cornell scientists compared three established processes for making biofuel-based hydrogen from wastewater and wood chips. All provide practical, scalable ways to power municipal fuel-cell buses and significantly reduce emissions compared to diesel-powered buses. But one technology—steam methane reforming—managed it at a lower cost than diesel per kilometer.

ACSF faculty fellows Alfred Center, Elizabeth Fisher, and Paul Mutolo are coauthors of a paper describing the findings. The research was supported by a 2012 Academic Venture Fund award

Cost-effective hydrogen from biofuels is a major step toward public transportation with a minimal carbon impact. Mutolo is working with Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit to bring TCAT riders a hydrogen fuel-cell bus. This bus, funded by the Federal Transit Administration, will be fueled by locally produced hydrogen. The hydrogen for TCAT is likely to be generated by carbon-free electrolysis.

“The feature of offering completely carbon-free fuel to TCAT, coupled with decreased costs for the small scale of this project, points to electrolysis as the right choice,” Mutolo says. “In the future, we are interested in working with the Ithaca wastewater treatment plant on opportunities for biogas or natural gas.”

Read more.