A Toyota FCHV-adv refueling at the new hydrogen station in Torrance, Calif.

(Credit: Toyota)

Toyota opened the first hydrogen refueling station in the U.S. that is connected directly to a hydrogen pipeline.

Unlike nearby Santa Monica and Irvine hydrogen refueling stations, this new facility, located in Torrance, Calif., on the Toyota campus, doesn't use trucks to bring hydrogen gas on-site. Instead, it receives a steady supply of hydrogen fuel from Air Products' hydrogen pipeline, which produces hydrogen at its plants in Wilmington and Carson, Calif.

Shell leases the land from Toyota, and manages the station for the manufacturer. The station will service Toyota's fleet of 100 fuel cell test vehicles that the carmaker plans to bring to the U.S. between now and 2013.

"Building an extensive hydrogen refueling infrastructure is a critical step in the successful market launch of fuel cell vehicles," said Chris Hostetter, Toyota product and strategic planning vice president. "We plan to bring a fuel cell vehicle to market in 2015, or sooner, and the infrastructure must be in place to support our customers' needs."

Until then, Toyota plans to use the facility as a demonstration center to teach local students and the public about fuel cell technology.

Air Products also worked with Toyota and other fuel cell manufacturers to develop a unique wireless recognition system for the Torrance Shell customers to speed the hydrogen refueling process. The station, which will be open to other manufacturers of fuel cell vehicles, can refuel up to four vehicles simultaneously in 5 minutes, according to a Los Angeles Times article.

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