Twin Transit and its partners are on track to submit pre-application materials this summer for what is planned be the state’s first hydrogen fueling station.
Twin Transit Executive Director Joe Clark presented an update on the project to the Port of Chehalis during Thursday’s port meeting, along with the first rendered images of what the finished fueling station could look like.
Current designs depict a 700-bar fuel pressure “light duty” fueling station for cars and light duty trucks on one side and a 350-bar “heavy duty” fueling station for medium and heavy duty trucks on the other, Clark explained to the commissioners Thursday.
With hydrogen fueling, Clark said, higher pressure means more hydrogen can fit in a smaller tank, so vehicles can go longer without refueling.
“The more pressure you can get into that tank, the more condensed that hydrogen,” he said.
A bar is equivalent to 14.5 pound-force per square inches (PSIs) of pressure.
Some hydrogen truck manufacturers are looking into 700-bar fast-fueling for large trucks.
“And if so, we will upgrade those dispensers to be able to accommodate that view and style,” Clark said.
The Port of Chehalis commissioners unanimously approved a motion to enter into a memorandum of understanding with Twin Transit on Sept. 9, 2021, to eventually construct the hydrogen fueling station on a port-owned site off Bishop Road near Interstate 5 Exit 74.
The site survey and critical area assessment have both been completed for the 8-acre project site, Clark told the commission Thursday. Twin Transit is on track to submit pre-application materials to the City of Chehalis and Lewis County in mid-July, and to submit for land use permits in August.
“Things are going very well,” Clark said of the project.
Most of the design work for the project site will be completed after the pre-application goes through, but project coordinators are tentatively planning to spread the functions of the fueling station across multiple buildings on the site.
“There (are) a couple of things that are unique to this in that we will have hydrogen storage compression in this facility. And then we will potentially (it) have next to it the electrolyzer so that we're not putting such a big building in one place, but we separate those out and then connect them through some underground piping,” Clark said.
While the plan is to build several buildings on the site, Clark said project coordinators hope to complete all the construction at once rather than in phases.
“We would really like to do that construction simultaneously, just mobilize and go, as opposed to having to do it twice,” he said.
Current project timelines show the construction could be completed as early as June 2023.
“We'll have probably a six- to 12-month break-in period where we'll have buses and trucks and things like that, that will be controlled primarily to do our testing and those kinds of things before the site is just like, open to the public,” Clark said.
The fueling site is expected to be primarily self-service, with some technicians and a manager on site.
The current designs anticipate it will be mostly used by industrial vehicles like forklifts and trucks, but the functionality of the site plans means that the use could easily adapt to accommodate more fleet or passenger vehicles.
“Just because I call it ‘industrial’ doesn't mean it's different than what would happen at a retail site, say at Exit 68. It's just incorporating some bigger radiuses and that sort of thing to accommodate trucks,” Clark said.
Twin Transit will receive a small fleet of buses equipped with hydrogen fuel cells in 2023 as part of a grant, according to previous Chronicle reporting.
The station is expected to take up about 1 acre of the 8-acre site, so Clark plans to be back before the port commission in August to talk through options on which section of the site would work best for the fuel station.