April 26, 2021. SoCalGas and SunLine Transit Agency have partnered to test two technologies that will produce hydrogen from renewable natural gas (RNG) at SunLine Transit Agency’s hydrogen fueling station in Thousand Palms, California. The research project, called “H2 SilverSTARS,” will produce renewable hydrogen to fuel SunLine’s fleet of 17 hydrogen fuel cell electric buses.

The combination of the two technologies will make it possible to provide renewable hydrogen made from RNG at natural gas fueling stations—or any location near a natural gas pipeline. The goal is to produce emissions-free renewable hydrogen for fuel cell electric cars and other vehicles at a price competitive with gasolina.

Hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicles are expected to play an important role in meeting California Governor Newsom’s executive order requiring all new cars sold in the state be zero emissions by 2035. As demand for these cars increases, Californians will need thousands more stations where they can fuel up with hydrogen.

The project will integrate two core technologies. The first, Linde’s HydroPrime HC300 MIN system, will make hydrogen from renewable natural gas the same way large centralized hydrogen production plants do—but with compact equipment small enough to fit in a tractor-trailer container. The second technology, STARS-165 SMR, built by the start-up STARS corporation, takes the Linde system a step further. It’s more efficient in producing hydrogen because it uses a compact microchannel design and is driven by an electricity-powered induction heating process, meaning there is no combustion. This advancement significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions compared to traditional hydrogen production.