Honda held a band average on Friday, March 3 from its Torrance headquarters, previewing the company’s zero-emission hydrogen backup power supply and the applications it will have for future vehicles, consumers and businesses, as well as the impact it will have on the environment , 2023. (Photo by Brittany Murray, Press-Telegram/SCNG)
Honda unveiled a new fuel cell system at its North American headquarters in Torrance on Friday, March 3 – officials said the system will serve as a backup source for its data center and reduce local air pollution.
Rather than relying on diesel fuel, which results in higher CO2 emissions, the new generator converts the chemical energy in hydrogen into electricity, with water vapor as the only by-product.
The new system has an approximate capacity of 500 kilowatts and reuses fuel cell stacks from previously leased Honda Clarity Fuel Cell vehicles, company executives said at Friday’s unveiling.
“This is the first demonstration project of its kind in the world,” said Jay Joseph, vice president of American Honda’s CASE & Energy Business Unit.
The Japanese automaker chose its corporate campus in Torrance as the first global test site for the technology, largely because of its previous experience making hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and its need to get rid of aging diesel generators, Joseph said.
“And we thought, instead of replacing them with new diesel generators,” he said, “why don’t we demonstrate our new technology and install it on our Torrance campus and show the world that we’re also renewable energy users.”
In recent years, the power demand of data centers has increased rapidly with the expansion of Internet cloud computing and the use of big data. Any power interruption can cause downtime or problems such as data corruption and damage to servers.
“Here in Torrance, the biggest problem is in really hot weather, when people use air conditioning a lot,” Joseph said, “there’s a risk of power outages, so we have to be prepared for that so we can protect our servers and our data system with that.” we don’t lose power to these systems.
“It doesn’t happen often,” he added, “but we have to be prepared for when it does.”
Amid concerns about climate change and soaring oil prices, the world’s automakers have increased investment in hydrogen and other alternative fuel vehicles. Honda was a pioneer in fuel cell cars and introduced its prototype in 1998.
Other companies have their own initiatives. BMW, for example, produces hydrogen-powered SUVs in addition to electric cars. Toyota and Hyundai have both announced similar plans.
Compared to their electric counterparts, vehicles with fuel cells can be refueled much faster and offer longer ranges.
But hydrogen cars are complex and expensive to manufacture. And much of the hydrogen is now known as “grey hydrogen,” produced by reforming natural gas — a process that releases large amounts of carbon dioxide.
However, hydrogen fuel cell technology is one way to “mitigate the risk of insufficient power supply,” said Torrance Mayor George Chen, who attended Friday’s unveiling.
That’s important, he said, because more and more vehicles are going electric.
“Therefore, in many cases, fuel cells actually have better advantages compared to electric cars,” Chen said. “Their output is water, can you imagine that? So it’s like a win-win situation.
“I have a feeling that the hydrogen fuel cell will probably gain more traction in the future,” the mayor added. “Not just Honda, I think other vehicles, other manufacturers are going to switch to hydrogen pretty soon.”