Transportation  January 12, 2024

Grant propels hydrogen fueling technology into transportation

FORT COLLINS — The announced federal Department of Transportation awards to Colorado State University for hydrogen fueling stations will propel a green-energy company’s proof of concept and help to develop an on ramp for transportation companies wanting to move to hydrogen-fueled vehicles.

As reported this week, CSU and Boulder County received a combined $13.8 million in grants to build infrastructure for electric-vehicle charging or fueling stations. Of that, $9 million will be used to build three hydrogen fueling hubs — all connected with CSU campuses in Fort Collins, Denver and Pueblo. Colorado company New Day Hydrogen Inc. will use its technology to build those hubs.

“It’s a huge game changer for us,” said New Hydrogen CEO Seth Terry. “We’ve been at it with our model, which uses microhubs as the cheapest and greenest way to get infrastructure in place for zero emissions. We’re confident in our model and have been working diligently with the folks at the CSU Spur campus to develop a project there.” The grant expands the opportunity, he said.

The issue with hydrogen-fueled vehicles — electric vehicles that use hydrogen fuel cells for example — is the transport of large volumes of raw hydrogen to store at fueling stations that use the common gasoline station or truck-stop model. 

“Hydrogen transport presents a physical challenge because it is light and diffuse,” Terry said. “In order to get what you need, it needs to be compressed and there are limits …”

The solution in the short term is the New Hydrogen model: Creating micro hubs that manufacture hydrogen at the site where it will be used to fuel a truck fleet. 

Hydrogen, a component of water (H20), needs to be separated from the oxygen molecules, and that takes some form of energy. It can be done using fossil fuels to create what is called “gray hydrogen.” Green hydrogen is created from water using electricity that has been produced using either solar or wind sources. 

The New Hydrogen model takes a local water source, separates out the hydrogen using a green energy source, and stores the product for refueling of trucks or vehicles. 

Terry referred to the model as an on-ramp for hydrogen use by transit companies that want to make a conversion to green energy but don’t want to wait for the longer-term solution of how to transport large volumes of hydrogen.

The micro hubs that New Hydrogen will build — the three with CSU campuses and another in north Boulder — will be small in comparison to a traditional gasoline fueling station. 

Each hub will produce 200 kilograms of hydrogen per day, which will be enough to fuel between five and 15 light duty to heavy duty trucks, Terry said. The hubs are modular and take up little space; the company’s website said they are built into cargo containers, which can be stacked or added to as demand increases.

“The idea is to put in the infrastructure and show the feasibility for fueling for hydrogen vehicles,” he said. “If we’re really into zero emissions as the objective, then fleets will be looking at a non- fossil fuel source for the hydrogen,” and this gives them a chance to try out the technology.

The company has letters of intent from three fleet entities to use the technology once it’s in place. Via Mobility, Fluid Truck truck sharing platform, and Colorado Car Share are the three entities initially that will use the technology. The first two will fuel medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, while Colorado Car Share will fuel light-duty vehicles.

Entities that have provided letters of support, among them Xcel Energy and the Colorado Department of Transportation, may join in the program as it builds out.

“Ultimately, as other infrastructure develops around delivering hydrogen, maybe over the next decade, our onsite production will be replaced with delivered hydrogen. Then these hubs can move to new locations to extend the reach of the network,” he said.

Terry said that the technology, while small in scope now, has the potential for utility-scale use. A utility producing electricity from wind or solar could store excess green power by using it to create hydrogen, which then could be used when solar or wind sources aren’t available.

The federal Charging and Fueling Infrastructure Program grants announced this week are among 47 nationwide; only four were hydrogen related and the remainder were for electric vehicle charging stations.

“We have the right approach to ramp this. So many other folks are looking at producing hydrogen at scale, which is fine for centralized production of hydrogen. But we also need an on ramp” for those wanting to make conversions now, he said.

New Hydrogen will be looking for investors in upcoming funding campaigns, he said.

FORT COLLINS — The announced federal Department of Transportation awards to Colorado State University for hydrogen fueling stations will propel a green-energy company’s proof of concept and help to develop an on ramp for transportation companies wanting to move to hydrogen-fueled vehicles.

As reported this week, CSU and Boulder County received a combined $13.8 million in grants to build infrastructure for electric-vehicle charging or fueling stations. Of that, $9 million will be used to build three hydrogen fueling hubs — all connected with CSU campuses in Fort Collins, Denver and Pueblo. Colorado company New Day Hydrogen Inc. will use its…

Ken Amundson
Ken Amundson is managing editor of BizWest. He has lived in Loveland and reported on issues in the region since 1987. Prior to Colorado, he reported and edited for news organizations in Minnesota and Iowa. He's a parent of two and grandparent of four, all of whom make their homes on the Front Range. A news junkie at heart, he also enjoys competitive sports, especially the Rapids.
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