EL SERENO – An experimental hydrogen station at Cal State L.A. has become the first in the state that can sell hydrogen by the kilogram to the fuel-cell motoring public. But don’t expect a long line of vehicles to start forming soon. There are only about 200 or 300 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles traveling the streets and freeways of the Los Angeles area, according to one university official. Still, the station’s ability to now sell hydrogen by the kilogram is considered a “milestone” in the commercialization of a hydrogen-powered fueling network across the state.
The Cal State L.A. hydrogen station opened last May but only test vehicles operated by car makers could use the facility until the state recently certified the station to sell hydrogen by the kilogram to the public. It takes about six minutes and six kilograms of hydrogen, which is produced at the campus station and research facility, to fill a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. A typical fuel cell vehicle, which emits water vapor, can travel about 60 miles on a kilogram of hydrogen.
“This is a milestone in the commercialization of hydrogen in preparation for the next generation of electric vehicles that will be powered by hydrogen,” said Michael Dray, technical operations manager at the fueling facility, said in a statement. “It’s equivalent to getting the first sticker from the state government to sell gasoline by the gallon.”
But how much does a kilogram of Cal State L.A. hydrogen cost? That depends on the leasing agreement between the vehicle owners and the automaker, which provide the fuel under the terms of a lease, said Dray, whose station bills the automakers when a customer pulls up. Payments will be used to cover production and overhead costs for production and dispensing of the hydrogen.
The Cal State hydrogen station, located near the campus athletic fields, is open Monday – Friday from 8 am. – 5 p.m., which is a relatively limited schedule compared to a typical gas station. But, Dray notes, it’s full service – a technician pumps the hydrogen into your vehicle.