Renewable Hydrogen Production Part of New Toyota System at California Port

FuelCell Energy and Toyota Motor North America said they have completed what the groups call a “Tri-gen” production system at the Port of Long Beach in California. The system, owned by FuelCell Energy and serving Toyota’s operations at the port, will produce electricity from renewable resources, as well as hydrogen, along with water from directed biogas.

The project announced September 7 is Toyota’s first port vehicle processing facility to be powered by renewable energy produced totally onsite. The company said the system provides a model for how fuel cell technology can help reduce emissions from commercial and industrial operations. The system is scalable, and the groups said it could be implemented “in a variety of settings [and] locations.”

“Tri-gen takes various fuels, such as biofuel or renewable natural gas, and converts them into hydrogen, electricity, and water. Its uniqueness lies in its triple functionality, producing three essential elements at once,” said Jason Few, CEO of FuelCell Energy. Few told POWER, “Tri-gen’s versatility allows it to adapt to various industries and regions. Potential applications include warehouses, industrial facilities, and metropolitan areas with hydrogen vehicle fleets. As Tri-gen’s commercial operation begins, it is expected to attract more projects and expand its footprint.”

Toyota has contracted with FuelCell Energy to receive the Tri-gen products under a 20-year purchase agreement.

Blazing a Trail

“By utilizing only renewable hydrogen and electricity production, TLS [Toyota Logistic Services] Long Beach will blaze a trail for our company,” said Chris Reynolds, chief administrative officer for Toyota. “Working with FuelCell Energy, together we now have a world-class facility that will help Toyota achieve its carbon reduction efforts, and the great news is this real-world example can be duplicated in many parts of the globe.”

The companies on Thursday said Tri-gen “is an example of FuelCell Energy’s ability to scale hydrogen-powered fuel cell technology, an increasingly important energy solution in the global effort to reduce carbon emissions.” FuelCell Energy said its technology will support Toyota’s operations at the port through an electrochemical process that converts directed renewable biogas into electricity, hydrogen, and usable water. Officials said the process is highly efficient, combustion-free, and emits virtually no air pollutants.

“FuelCell Energy is committed to helping our customers surpass their clean energy objectives,” said Few. “By working with FuelCell Energy, Toyota is making a powerful statement that hydrogen-based energy is good for business, local communities, and the environment. We are extremely pleased to showcase the versatility and sophistication of our fuel cell technology and to play a role in supporting Toyota’s environmental commitments.”

Power From Renewable Energy

The Tri-gen system will produce 2.3 MW of electricity from renewable energy. Part of that will be used by TLS Long Beach to support its operations at the port. Toyota processes about 200,000 new Toyota and Lexus vehicles annually at the Port of Long Beach.

The FuelCell Energy Tri-gen system can produce up to 1,200 kg/day of hydrogen, which will provide for TLS Long Beach’s fueling needs for its incoming light-duty fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV), the Toyota Mirai. The system also will supply hydrogen to a nearby heavy-duty hydrogen refueling station, which will support Toyota’s logistics and drayage operations at the port. Officials said the system’s hydrogen production can be ramped up and down based on needs and requirements.

The hydrogen production process also will produce about 1,400 gallons of water each day, which will be used by TLS Long Beach for car wash operations for vehicles that come into port prior to customer delivery. Officials said using the co-produced water will reduce the use of local water supplies by about half a million gallons annually.

“Renewable hydrogen is an important fuel for the future of the Port of Long Beach and the shipping industry,” said Port of Long Beach CEO Mario Cordero. “The renewable hydrogen generated by the Tri-gen system that Toyota commissioned, and similar projects, is part of our multi-strategy approach to help fuel the transition of equipment like locomotives, harbor craft, cargo-handling equipment and trucks to zero emissions.”

The system will help reduce the port’s emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), and has the potential to reduce diesel consumption by more than 420,000 gallons each year as hydrogen-powered trucks replace diesel-powered vehicles at the port.

Excess electricity from the Tri-gen system will be delivered to Southern California Edison, the local utility, under California Bioenergy Market Adjustment Tariff, or BioMAT, program.

Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).

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