Honda R&D Americas and Plug Power have introduced the third-generation Home Energy Station III, which could provide heat and electricity for the home as well as fuel for a hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicle.

The third generation unit, located for demonstration and testing at the company's North American headquarters in Torrance, California, is more compact and efficient than previous models.

The Home Energy Station III uses natural gas as its base energy source. Like the earlier models, it is designed for home-based refuelling and is able to supply a "sufficient" amount of hydrogen to power a fuel cell vehicle, such as Honda's own FCX, for daily operation while providing electricity for an average-sized household.

A goal of this energy station is to provide high overall energy efficiency and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the more effective use of natural gas.

The Home Energy Station III is roughly 30% smaller than its predecessor with an approximate 25% increase in electrical power output. Overall performance increases with more energy-efficient operation, increased hydrogen storage and production capacities, and a faster start-up time of about one minute.

Additionally, hydrogen storage and production capacity are both improved by about 50% with the use of a new, high-performance, natural gas reformer. The unit is also able to function as a backup power generation system during power outages by using the hydrogen in the storage tank to power the internal fuel cell, providing as much as five kilowatts of electrical power to the home in normal and emergency conditions.

The Home Energy Station III will be tested in conjunction with the FCX at Honda's R&D Americas facility, also in Torrance.

Although the fuel cell refueller is not yet available to consumers, Honda recently launched a device called Phill, which allows owners of the natural gas-powered Civic GX sedan living in Southern California's South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) to refuel their cars at home.

Private owners of the Civic GX can get the home refuelling appliance at no additional cost for four years without any additional commitment at the end of the term.

SCAQMD and the California's Mobile Source Reduction Air Pollution Reduction Review Committee are offering incentives of US $2,000 and Honda will cover the remaining balance of the "Phill" lease. Additionally, for qualified customers, Honda is offering installation financing of up to $1,500.

Honda US Home Energy Station III
Honda Phill CNG home refuelling device