Tempting Big Oil with Hydrogen

September 24, 2013

The President and CEO of Tesoro Corporation, which operates seven refineries in the western U.S., drove a hydrogen fuel cell automobile for the first time 

from the UC Berkeley campus to AC Transit’s Emeryville hydrogen fueling station on Wednesday. 

TSRC's Tim Lipman (right) shows Greg Goff how to insert the nozzle into the hydrogen tank of the Mercedes fuel cell car.

Accompanied by Transportation Sustainability Research Center co-director Tim Lipman, Tesoro’s Greg Goff took the wheel of the vehicle, drove to the AC Transit station and then filled up in less than three minutes with non-polluting hydrogen.
 
Jamie Levin, the Director of Environmental Technology and manager of AC Transit’s fuel cell program, guided Goff through the process of filling the tank. The agency’s hydrogen facility, which is not yet open to the public, is used to fuel 12 40-foot hydrogen buses each day using an advanced compression technology.
 
Each hydrogen fuel cell bus can travel for 220 to 240 miles on a tank. Batteries recharge during braking and provide extra power for acceleration and climbing hills. It takes six to eight minutes to fill each bus at the end of its shift.
 
“We want to get the oil companies behind this technology because it is becoming a viable alternative and it is so much cleaner,” said Lipman, who conducts research on alternative vehicles and infrastructure.
 
Lipman and Levin believe the oil companies could play an important role in establishing an infrastructure throughout the state for hydrogen vehicles.
 
“The vehicles themselves are here. And they’re great to drive,” said Levin. “Once consumers experience an all electric vehicle powered by a hudrogen fuel cell engine, they won't want to return to a standard vehicle.”
 
AC Transit's Jaimie Levin (left), Greg Goff, and Tim Lipman wait three minutes while the tank fills with hydrogen.
 
Goff also visited UC Berkeley’s Energy Biosciences Institute, which conducts research in bioenergy development.