Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe and can be extracted from many sources, including biomass, water or natural gas. Hydrogen holds much promise as an environmentally friendly and sustainable means of storing and delivering energy. The challenge is developing an economical way to extract hydrogen, to justify replacing existing fuels.
Over the last few years, we have participated in research and pilot projects to test the feasibility of this fuel source. Our projects include:
- Homosassa Springs fuel cell – We teamed up with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to develop a sustainable hydrogen fuel cell and 5-kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) system for the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park in Citrus County, Florida. View a short video on YouTube about this project.
- Microcell investment – We invested $1.5 million in Microcell Corp., a Raleigh, N.C.-based company working to bring commercially available fuel cell applications to industrial, commercial and consumer markets. For more information on Microcell, please visit the company's website.
- Palm Garden fuel cell – In a joint project with Plug Power, we installed a 5-kilowatt hydrogen fuel cell to provide backup electric power to Palm Garden of Largo, a skilled-nursing facility on the west coast of Florida.
- Hydrogen vehicles – From 2005 to 2009, we demonstrated three of the automobile industry’s first hybrid electric hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles (FCVs). These Ford Focus FCVs were driven by advisors as they made home visits to counsel customers on energy-efficiency methods. Our employees logged over 125,000 miles as part of the nationwide demonstration project. The vehicles received widespread media coverage.
- Hydrogen fueling stations – We hosted two pilot hydrogen fueling stations on our property in Florida, including one near the Orlando Airport that fueled hydrogen-powered airport shuttle buses. Another was located at an operations center and fueled our fleet of demonstration Ford Focus FCVs. This station completed more than 3,200 fill ups during the pilot that ended in 2009.
- Hydrogen curriculum – We are partnering with Florida public schools to educate students on the possibilities of hydrogen as an alternative energy fuel. "Hydrogen: The Power and the Potential" is a student curriculum initiative that envisions the use of a variety of energy alternatives – such as hydrogen – while underscoring the importance of conservation.