April 26, 2002

First methanol fueling station for fuel cell cars opens in California

Sacramento, California – The very first methanol fueling station for fuel cell vehicles was put into operation on Thursday by the California Fuel Cell Partnership. This marks the beginning of the second stage of the California Fuel Cell Partnership, in which not only hydrogen but also liquid fuel is tested.

In order to ensure the safe handling of methanol, a new refueling system exclusively permitting the filling of specific methanol tanks was developed in cooperation with Messrs. Identic and the Methanol Alliance (including partners BASF, BP, DaimlerChrysler, Methanex, Statoil and Ballard).

One of the first fuel cell cars to use the methanol fueling station will be DaimlerChrysler’s NECAR 5, a fuel cell car based on the Mercedes-Benz A-Class car. Its onboard reformer extracts hydrogen gas from the liquid methanol to power the fuel cell which creates electrical power.

The final decision on the future fuel for fuel cell vehicles still remains open. The most technologically advanced method would be to use pure hydrogen in compressed or liquid form, but this would require a new, and expensive refuelling infrastructure. Methanol is an efficient and economical energy source produced from natural gas, but which can also be generated from renewable energy sources such as biomass.

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