The need to transition from oil dependency to an alternative transportation fuel has been well documented over the last 30 years. Many alternative energy sources have been researched and developed, but none, to this point, has been able to compete with the cost and versatility of gasoline. The use of hydrogen fuel cells for transportation is one of the concepts being highly supported as a potential environmentally clean alternative energy technology. Significant research and development has dramatically increased the feasibility of this technology, but many additional breakthroughs, including a cost effective supply of hydrogen at fueling stations, will be required for fuel cell vehicles (FCV) to compete with gasoline fueled internal combustion engines (ICE). This paper describes the development of an on-site hydrogen supply system based on steam methane reforming (SMR) that could easily be added to a typical fueling station. The system is not intended to fuel the equivalent of all the cars on the road today, but to provide enough hydrogen for the transition period from gasoline powered transportation to the hydrogen fuel cell. Opportunities exist for a significant reduction in hydrogen cost by introducing advanced design technologies, such as Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DFMA), to the development of hydrogen production systems. A reformer-based system designed using the DFMA approach is expected to significantly reduce the capital cost by minimizing the overall part count, simplifying the design, and optimizing the assembly process. Praxair, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), is developing a small SMR-based system using this approach. This paper presents an overview of the impact of this approach on the system design as well as the overall cost for small on-site hydrogen production. The paper also provides an analysis of hydrogen fueling station criteria and an overview of issues related to on-board hydrogen vehicle storage.

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