Torrance Shell station adds hydrogen fuel pump

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Vehicles powered by hydrogen won’t be sold to the public until 2015, but consumers’ willingness to buy them is largely dependent on what’s happening right now: the build-out of hydrogen stations to fuel them.

On Tuesday, a Shell station in Torrance became the sixth hydrogen station to open in Southern California. It is the first to tap into an existing hydrogen pipeline. It is also the first to accommodate different auto manufacturers’ filling protocols, some of which require more high-pressure fuel. And it’s the first station capable of simultaneously refueling four vehicles at once from two dispensers.

‘This station represents the next step. It’s more accessible and higher capacity. It’s easily expandable to accommodate a larger fleet,’ said Steve Hoffman, a hydrogen energy systems engineer with Pennsylvania-based Air Products, the world’s largest supplier of hydrogen to oil refineries. Air Products was part of a collaboration among Shell, Toyota, the South Coast Air Quality Management District and the U.S. Department of Energy to build the station.

Air Products runs a hydrogen pipeline between its Southern California production facilities in Wilmington and Carson, along which many refineries are based. It was able to tap into its pipeline to feed the pumps at the Torrance station because the station was situated along an already existing line carrying the fuel.


Twelve additional hydrogen fueling stations have been funded for the Southern California area and will be built by the end of 2012. By 2015, most of the major automakers — General Motors Co., Honda Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. among them — have said they will go into volume production of hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles.


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-- Susan Carpenter