Greg Frenette, a lead engineer at Ford Motors, said last week that it may take at least 20 years before hydrogen-powered cars become widely available because obtaining the fuel is so costly and difficult. However the latest news from the Reuters Global Environment Summit is that these zero emissions cars could become a reality in California very soon. The state plans to build out “Hydrogen Cities” to support the hydrogen car industry.
How Does the Hydrogen Car Work?
Fuel cells create electricity in a chemical process that combines hydrogen and oxygen, emitting water vapor as a by-product. instead of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. Since the conversion of the fuel to energy takes place via an electrochemical process rather than combustion, the process is clean and highly efficient. The hydrogen car reduces greenhouse gas emissions while also reducing dependency on crude oil.
Development of a Hydrogen Highway Across Hydrogen Cities in California
The main impediment to the development of the hydrogen car has been a lack of refueling stations in the country. However, California plans to change this. Today there are roughly 70 hydrogen stations in the U.S., nearly half of which are in California according to the Fuel Cells 2000 website (www.fuelcells.org). At the summit, California Air Resources Board Chairman Mary Nichols said that she expected to see a fairly rapid build-out of stations in the next couple of years forming a “Hydrogen Highway” across the state’s most concentrated cities. These cities are referred to as “Hydrogen cities”. Nichols expects there to be tens of thousands of hydrogen cars in California over the next decade or so.
Already car manufacturers like General Motors and Honda are testing small numbers of fuel cell vehicles in California.
Photo Credit: www.hydrogencarsnow.com