Saskatchewan demos hydrogen fuelling station

December 15, 2010
Franca Romano

PURCHASINGB2B MAGAZINE, NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2010: Two Saskatchewan government fleets demonstrating the use of hydrogen-powered trucks now have a fuelling and loading station in Saskatoon.

The station will fuel a fleet of seven hydrogen trucks from both SaskEnergy and the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC). The vehicles incorporate a more flexible and lower cost technology that assists in bridging the way to 100 per cent hydrogen use.

“SRC has been a leader in developing alternative fuel technologies which has highlighted Saskatchewan’s strong innovative capacity,” says Rob Norris, minister for advanced education, employment and immigration minister and minister responsible for SRC. “As vehicle manufacturers adopt hybrid and enviro-friendly engines, hydrogen technology like this one has the potential to be commercialized and benefit Saskatchewan’s economy.”

The project’s cost is over $2.3 million, with funding provided by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), Enterprise Saskatchewan, SaskEnergy and SRC. In-kind support has also been provided by AkzoNobel, ERCO Worldwide and SaskEnergy.

“SaskEnergy’s expertise, combined with their existing fleet of natural gas/gasoline vehicles and province-wide network of natural gas refuelling stations, assists SRC to test this cutting-edge technology in real-world situations,” says Dustin Duncan, minister responsible for SaskEnergy. “This project demonstrates SaskEnergy’s commitment to finding alternative, green energy sources for the future, as well as the province’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

Using more than three decade’s worth of technology, research, development and demonstrations, four SRC trucks and three SaskEnergy trucks have been adapted to operate on hydrogen.

“The Smart Fuel Solutions project—in particular the hydrogen fuelling station—will allow SRC to safely and efficiently fuel the hydrogen vehicles,” says Dr. Laurier Schramm, SRC president and CEO. “Besides the potential environmental benefits for Canadians, this project provides real-world testing to advance the commercialization of hydrogen technology.”

To obtain hydrogen fuel for the project, SRC engineers designed a system that takes by-product hydrogen from ERCO Worldwide’s Saskatoon chemical production plant and transfers it through a short pipeline to a loading station at AkzoNobel’s nearby facility. There the hydrogen is dried, compressed and injected into tube trailers that make their way to SaskEnergy’s commercial fuelling station in Saskatoon where it is pumped into vehicles.

When operating in the hydrogen mode, the vehicles substitute about 45 percent hydrogen for fossil fuel use in city and highway traffic. At idle and low load, the gasoline and diesel engines operate on approximately 100 percent and 60 percent hydrogen, respectively.