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New sewage gas station in OC may be world's first

August 17, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Orange County Sanitation District and UC Irvine's National Fuel Cell Research Center opened a hydrogen fuel station in Fountain Valley on Tuesday where methane gas from sewage will be converted to hydrogen to power cars and the station itself.

According to UC Irvine, the production process may be the only one of its kind in the world. It will use high-temperature fuel cells to create a two-fold renewable system that uses hydrogen to power cars, as well as electricity to power the plant.

"We hope that the public can see this and say, 'Wow! It is not something of the far-out future,' George Jetsen, if you will. It is here today and it is deployable today," said Tom Mutchler of Air Products and Chemicals Inc., a sponsor and developer of the project.

The gas that is produced during the waste water treatment process goes into fuel cells, where the hydrogen is separated and then carried through tubes straight to the fueling station.

This facility can fuel 150 cars per day and studies show the fuel should be cost-competitive with gasoline in the near future. In the short term, it reduces petroleum use and all of its pitfalls for the people in Southern California.

"The air quality in Southern California depends upon vehicle technology that will either eliminate or drastically reduce the emissions from automobiles," said Jack Brouwer, associate director of the National Fuel Cell Research Center. "Less smog, greater visibility. Hopefully we'll have a better quality of life as a result of this technology."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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