In a small but meaningful step on the road to making fuel-cell vehicles more attractive alternatives for tomorrow's car buyers, the country's first hydrogen refueling station fed directly by an existing industrial hydrogen pipeline has been opened in Torrance, California. A collaborative effort between Toyota Motor Sales, Shell Oil, Air Products, the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) and the Department of Energy (DOE), this fully functional demonstration station is located on property adjacent to and leased from Toyota and operated by Shell using equipment provided and maintained by Air Products, the firm that also owns the hydrogen pipeline.

"Vehicle demonstration programs and demonstration stations like the Torrance station are a critical next step in preparing the market for advanced technology vehicles and future fuels," said Chris Hostetter, group vice president, product and strategic planning, TMS. In addition to affording easy access to hydrogen for fuel-cell vehicles in demonstration fleets from Toyota, Honda -- who also was instrumental in helping secure various civic approvals for the facility -- and other manufacturers located in the surrounding area, the station will serve as a learning center to better educate students and the general public. In addition, it will make the City of Torrance part of the California Hydrogen Highway initiative, whose stated aim is to create clean air solutions and develop new technology jobs across the Golden State.

"This is the first time Shell has worked closely with a vehicle manufacturer to develop a demonstration station," said Julian Evison, general manager of operations for Shell alternative energies. "The industry has made good technical progress, but cooperation is a necessity for hydrogen to achieve its commercial potential as a road transport fuel."

Air Products played an equally critical role in this undertaking, working with Toyota and other fuel-cell-vehicle manufacturers to develop the Hydrogen Vehicle Authorization System (HVAS), another first for the industry and unique to the Torrance station. This wireless vehicle recognition system allows seamless station-to-vehicle interaction to facilitate quick and convenient fueling for customers.

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