A dedication event for the first commercially produced, affordable solar hydrogen home in the United States took place in Hopewell on September 11.
The Hydrogen House Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that pursues clean and renewable energy technologies and offers education on renewable energy (through lectures, presentations, student internships, etc.).
A crowd of several hundred people gathered as speeches were given by project leader Mike Strizki; Harvey Lester, mayor of Hopewell Township; and group tours of the grounds were given by Cassandra Kling, account manager at Bright Power.
Bright Power is a New York-based energy efficiency company that is a partner of the Hydrogen House Project.
The property features a 40-kilowatt solar panel system that puts out 55,000 kilowatt hours of energy per year, and a web-based monitoring system that provides analytics and data for energy optimization.
Inside the house, “islanding” inverters stay on in the event that utility-company service shuts down, providing the house with 16 kilowatt hours of energy, which translates into electricity for two or three days.
For Strizki, the project’s leader, the fight for a sustainable future is a matter of life and death.
“No more wars over oil. No more seeing kids die. I renamed 9/11 ‘Energy Independence Day’ because it’s time to turn something negative into a positive,” he said.
The unique piece of technology behind the hydrogen house is the Joule Box, a portable power unit created by Strizki that turns hydrogen into electricity. The Joule Box provides 1,100 watts of hydrogen power, 1,330 watts of solar power and 1,000 watts of wind power.
Powered by the solar array that sits on the property, the Joule Box is a “smart electrolyzer” that splits inbound solar energy into hydrogen gas and oxygen gas. The oxygen then disperses into the air, while the hydrogen is pumped into an underground storage tank.
Fuel cells take the stored hydrogen and pull it up from the tank when the home needs emergency power. The machine recombines the hydrogen with oxygen, creating electricity, and even small amounts of water.
At the event, guests drank clean water, thanks to a mobile purification system powered by the Joule Box.
Also featured at the event was the Toyota Mirai, a zero-emissions hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicle that Toyota is introducing to the North American market this month. The Mirai will run on carbon fiber-reinforced tanks that store the hydrogen. The car can drive up to 300 miles on a single charge, and the hydrogen fuel cell will provide more than 100 kilowatts of power.
New Jersey is a critical location for Toyota’s strategy for the Mirai, as there will be hydrogen-dispensing stations throughout five states between New Jersey and Boston. The hydrogen fueling stations are being built first in New England, and will become operational in 2016. The Mirai price tag will start at $50,000.
“It’s great to see excitement here at the grassroots level. The auto industry press and regulators are starting to ‘fall in line,’ but it’s really up to everyday people to make this happen,” said Robert Wimmer, director, Energy and Environmental Research Group, Toyota Motor North America, who demonstrated the car to a group of Rutgers students at the event.
The Rutgers Solar Design and Process class was brought to the event by their professor, Dr. Dunbar P. Birnie, III.
“It’s good for them to see the real technology on the cutting edge,” explained Dr. Birnie.
In 2006, Mike Strizki gained international acclaim by developing the original Hydrogen House, which was the first lived-in, solar-hydrogen home in the western hemisphere. The original Hydrogen House won the Clean Tech Award in 2006 from the New Jersey Clean Energy Program, and has been operational for the last nine years.
The new Hydrogen House is owned by Alice De Tiberge, and is located at 26 Snydertown Road in Hopewell.