By Nick Zararis and Jennifer Cooper
The bidding phase for a revamp to the town of Hempstead’s hydrogen fueling station began after the announcement on February 12th that it would be seeking proposals and consulting firms to evaluate the town’s sustainability as part of the revamping of its hydrogen fueling station.
The town also announced it received a $250,000 grant to upgrade its hydrogen fueling station a key component in reducing the use of fossil fuels in an announcement by the town board. The fueling station, which is the only one of its kind on Long Island and one of 39 in the entire United States, is expected to be renovated by the end of the year.
“The plant was built in 2009 as a prototype with grant money from NYSERDA,” Tara Schneider-Moran, a conservation biologist for the town of Hempstead said. “Originally this was conceived as a way to show that a hydrogen fueling system was practical.”
Today the town has the ability to make the fuel for its converted vehicles on site. The station draws water from the municipal water supply and using an electrolyzer the water is split into its two components, water and hydrogen. On a typical day, the plant produces 48 kilograms of hydrogen fuel, enough to fill eight converted vehicles Schneider-Moran said.
“These systems like the ones they have there are great and cost effective,” John Hall, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Buffalo said. “When you use a wind turbine the only cost is upfront and maintenance, there isn’t anything else you need to run the place.”
What makes the wind turbine and hydrogen station in Hempstead unique is that the facility has the capacity to store energy made through electrolysis. The fueling station has three storage tanks which are able to hold up to a day’s worth of production.
“The problem with wind turbines and wind energy is that the renewable aspect is variable,” Dr. H.J. Quigley, Director for Environmental Design at Stony Brook University, said. The hydrogen allows that energy to be stored when there is an abundance of wind, so the stored energy can be used.”
The grant for the upgrades to the station must be approved by the state’s Attorney General and Comptroller’s office before the town can formally proceed. Interested parties have until March 9th to submit plans for how the town could be more cost effective and energy efficient.
“Hempstead has always been a leader at protecting the environment,” Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney, the representative for Point Lookout, said. “The grant allows us to do it in a fiscally prudent way because the state’s department of conservation is footing the bill.”
The updated system will better serve the current vehicle fleet and allow for newer safety regulations. When the plant was first designed in 2009, there was no unified system of regulations from the department of weights and measures.
“The hydrogen station will get an upgrade to its cooling cycle system, software updates and three fuel cell prototypes with the grant money,” Schneider-Moran said. “When the plant was built in 2009 we tried to be as forward thinking as possible, but the types of vehicles on the market have gone in a different direction.”