ST. CLOUD -- St. Cloud has a plan to become the first city in the entire world to produce green hydrogen at its wastewater treatment facility.

Public Services Director Tracy Hodel says we are partnering with another city in Germany on the project so it will be somewhat of a race to see which city gets it up and running first.

St. Cloud has just applied for a nearly $1.1 million state grant to help pay for the $3 million project. Hodel says the city already has a lot of the infrastructure in place including the engines, aeration system, solar arrays, and the digestion process. The piece of equipment the city needs to buy is an electrolyzer, along with a place to store the hydrogen fuel they produce, and a way to transport the fuel.

The electrolyzer brings in water and then separates it into hydrogen gas and oxygen gas. The oxygen gas would be used on-site to lower overall costs.

With the pure oxygen, it's so concentrated that it will bring down our costs because it brings down electricity demand.  So our cost to provide treatment for that one gallon of water will be significantly reduced if we're able to put this process in.

Hydrogen gas created at the facility would be used to power the facility, making it an economical option for the city, while also producing zero carbon dioxide emissions.

Compressed natural gas is better, it's cleaner than coal or petroleum-based fuel sources for vehicles, but it still has some carbon dioxide emissions.  So with hydrogen, you're talking zero emissions, so if you're talking about decarbonizing our economy this is a key part of making that happen.

Any excess energy produced could then be sold creating a revenue source for the city.

Hodel says they are already looking for local partners, possibly Xcel Energy or New Flyer which has reached out to the city about the possibility of manufacturing hydrogen-powered buses.

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If the grant is approved later this year, Hodel says they could have it up and running by next summer.

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