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Honda adds fuel cell electric infrastructure to its Torrance campus



Honda has been one of the leaders in fuel cell vehicles over the years. It’s a system that converts pressurized hydrogen into electricity through a chemical process, producing no emissions.

Several generations were offered to the public, as an alternative to a battery electric car.

Now, the company is turning its attention to stationary fuel cell powerplants.

“This is the culmination of the work done by our team of Honda engineers and associates. It’s a great moment for me,” said Noriya Kaihara, president and CEO of American Honda at a dedication ceremony.

Essentially, this will serve as a stand-in for a conventional backup generator, providing clean emergency power for the company’s servers at their headquarters in Torrance.

American Honda is one of the biggest employers in the city, and decided its own campus would serve as a perfect test bed before marketing the system commercially.

Local elected officials on hand for the dedication are praising Honda for what could be an infrastructure solution in the long-term.

“We’re talking about backup in the future, but there might be opportunities, not just backup, but they may be primary. And if that’s the case then we don’t strain the grid,” said Torrance Mayor George K. Chen, who assisted in the ceremonial ribbon cutting.

Fuel cell technology isn’t new, but we usually see it in vehicles — from compact cars to even big rig trucks working at the ports. Now, Honda is joining the arena of non-mobile applications for the clean-running hydrogen power source.

When the subject of new energy technology comes up there’s often a lot of debate about the sourcing of materials, and also recycling them.

Well, this big Honda power unit is actually made up of Honda fuel cells that used to be in vehicles. Literally, straight out off-lease Honda Clarity vehicles and into the large-scale 500-kilowatt unit.

“And that’s really where we’re going in the future. Not just with hydrogen fuel cell systems but also with batteries. Batteries are great for transportation, until they’re down to around 70% of their useful life. But after that, they can be part of the solution for renewable energy,” noted Jay Joseph, vice president of CASE and energy at American Honda.

Honda will have new battery electric vehicles in the near future, as well as a new fuel cell CR-V model. But the company is looking at a bigger picture, with clean energy for other needs too.

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