According to a new report on TreeHugger.com, more hydrogen powered buildings have gone up in New York City since 2005 than anywhere else in the world. These include two of the world's largest hydrogen-powered mixed use buildings, and the first residential hydrogen-powered homes. And a residential building is being planned across the Hudson that will be the largest hydrogen powered residential tower in the world. The cost per square foot is not as high as you might think, so hydrogen power (probably in combination with solar) may become increasingly common.
Some of the buildings use solar power-generated energy to create hydrogen, another uses fuel cells to convert natural gas to hydrogen.
Here are a couple examples of these green projects.
The first hydrogen powered house is in Kings Point, Long Island, just outside of NYC. It was built by the New York Institute of Technology. The house is tiny, only 800 square feet, and has a solar-hydrogen system that was engineered by the US Merchant Marine Academy. It uses a Proton Energy Systems HOGEN 40RE Electrolyzer, Plug Power GenCore 5 kW Fuel Cell and 54 Sanyo HIT 200 Photovoltaic panels. The solar panels generate electricity, which powers the electrolyzer. That in turn creates the hydrogen by splitting the molecules that make water. Then the hydrogen is stored in tanks until needed.
The New Haven project, at 360 State Street (building pictured in the first shot) encompasses the full block. It is 700,000 square feet and has 500 apartments, a grocery store, retail, a parking garage, and an early childhood education center. The cost of the development was about $260 per square foot. The fuel cells used in the building weigh over 60,000 lbs and provide 400 kilowatts of energy by converting natural gas to hydrogen, then converting hydrogen and oxygen into energy and heat. The project was completed in 2010.
These hydrogen powered buildings are a smart way to supplement solar power, since solar can have a tough time providing 100% of the energy, especially for a large building. Hopefully we will see more of this technology in the next few years.