Blog: Why a GenFuel Hydrogen Infrastructure Makes Sense

October 30, 2014

Why a GenFuel Hydrogen Infrastructure Makes Sense

There are many reasons why Plug Power customers are opting to order our entire GenKey solution. A seamless transition to hydrogen fuel cell energy is just one of them. Increasing operational efficiency and reducing energy costs are other motivations.

We’ve been talking about GenKey, Plug Power’s all-inclusive hydrogen and fuel cell solution for a while now. It provides full support for material handling fleets to operate on hydrogen-based fuel cell power. GenKey delivers:

  • GenFuel – hydrogen delivery, storage, & refueling
  • GenDrive – fuel cell units
  • GenCare – maintenance service

In this blog, we’re going to focus on GenFuel, a major element of the GenKey system.

What exactly is GenFuel, anyway? Part of it is a hydrogen molecule supply which is used to power our GenDrive fuel cells. BUT – that’s just the start. Plug Power’s GenFuel solution provides a standardized onsite hydrogen fueling infrastructure that consists of multiple components, including:


  • Liquid hydrogen storage tank
  • Compression system – liquid to gaseous hydrogen
  • High pressure hydrogen storage tubes to maximize reserve hydrogen
  • Piping for delivering hydrogen into the building, directly to your dispensers


  • Hydrogen refueling dispensers

Installation of all these components by just one business partner – Plug Power – has many advantages. You have the solid expertise of your GenFuel installation specialists, one source for all communications and the entire process is directed by our knowledgeable, highly experienced project management team.

It’s like the general contractor who oversees a major home or office building renovation. You don’t need to hire a separate team for each step along the way – architect, construction crew, flooring expert, plumber, electrician, painter, etc. It’s all managed for you by the general contractor.

This same benefit applies to the installation of a GenFuel hydrogen infrastructure. Plug Power manages the entire project for you, from start to finish. We build cookie-cutter infrastructures across North America every day – so the process is seamless. It’s professional. It’s done properly. Bottom Line: POWERAhead with GenFuel: it just makes sense!

Here is a more detailed look at the elements comprising a GenFuel installation:

GenFuel Initiation – Design Phase

Once a customer agreement is approved and signed, Plug Power initiates construction and commissioning of the standard GenFuel infrastructure. This includes development of the installation plan and modified site drawings, and acquisition of approvals and permits.

Construction Phase

All GenFuel storage, compression, pipeline and dispenser equipment is installed during this phase:

Liquid Hydrogen TankAn outdoor pad, where the liquid hydrogen storage tank will be located, is built. The storage tank has a capacity of 15,000 – 18,000 gallons.

Hydrogen Compression SystemLiquid hydrogen is pumped with liquid pumps to usable pressure and put through a phase change to turn the liquid hydrogen into a gas. It’s then stored in our ground storage tubes for distribution to your indoor dispensers.

Gaseous Hydrogen TubesTubes are used to hold approximately 120 kg of gaseous hydrogen at ~7,000 psi. There are no moving parts but there are shut-off valves present to stop hydrogen flow if needed.

Hydrogen PipelinesA continuous hydrogen piping system that runs between the gaseous hydrogen tubes and multiple refueling dispenser locations is installed. The high-pressure pipelines are made of stainless steel.

Refueling DispensersGenFuel dispensers are installed in the busiest areas of your distribution center to make fueling access easier for your lift truck operators. The dispensers have user-friendly touch screens and quick-connect hoses that make re-fueling easy for forklift drivers.

GenFuel dispensers are offered with a data collection system that enables remote monitoring, file sharing and tracking of statistical information such as hydrogen consumption, fill pressure, fuel distribution by vehicle class, etc. An alarm notification system identifies specified conditions and sends out texts and emails.

Mandatory safety measures (e.g., hydrogen detection, fire detection, emergency stop, etc.) are built into each station. Additional safety measures include a bollard/rail system that surrounds dispensers to protect from approaching lift trucks, depowering of vehicles during fueling, and safety pressure mats that ensure vehicles do not leave the fueling station during a fill.

Commissioning Phase: The system is thoroughly checked and final tests are run. It typically takes about 16 weeks for the entire infrastructure install to be completed.

Employee Training: Customer employees are trained on the GenFuel system, and the first GenDrive fuel cell units are filled using the newly installed hydrogen fuel dispensers.

All Systems Go: GenFuel installation is complete. POWERAhead!


Our goal is to help customers seamlessly integrate a GenFuel hydrogen fuel storage and dispensing system without disrupting operations, while improving operational efficiencies and cost-savings.

Customers like Walmart and Kroger are using GenFuel today. For more information on how Plug Power can bring hydrogen-powered fuel cells to your business, please contact us.