there's a ray
of light for the hydrogen industry amid the darkness.
Connecticut-based SunHydro has announced plans to transform
Interstate 95 into a hydrogen highway. Those who live in the
U.S. East Coast know that I-95 stretches from Maine to Florida and is
one of the nation's busiest interstate highways.
will construct 11 stations on the highway. Each station will be
a self-contained hydrolysis unit with solar power collectors
attached. The solar power will provide energy to create
hydrogen from water via hydrolysis. The hydrogen production
system will come from an Proton Energy, an alternative energy
start-up. The net process is expected to be much more carbon
friendly than transporting hydrogen by truck to fueling
The plan is ambitious. Explains company
president Michael Grey, "Our goal is to make it possible for
hydrogen car to drive from Maine to Miami strictly on sun and water.
Having talked to several of the auto manufacturers, the indication
that we’ve received is that there has to be a network of stations
on the east coast for them to bring the cars here. They want to
bring the cars here, but there’s nowhere to fuel them."
the hydrogen industry is stuck in a chicken and egg dilemma of
sorts. Lack of vehicles makes stations a poor business
investment, while lack
of stations make developing hydrogen vehicles problematic.
Paul Williamson of the University of Montana College of Technology,
notes,"There’s no sense having hydrogen cars if there’s no
place to refuel them. Most of the development is happening in
California. Why? Because they have refueling stations."
initial SunHydro station aim for a gradual build up, initially
producing enough fuel to fill up 10 to 15 vehicles a day. The
stations will be located in Portland, Maine; Braintree,
Massachusetts; Wallingford, Connecticut; South Hackensack, New
Jersey; Claymont, Delaware; Richmond, Virginia; Charlotte, North
Carolina; Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia; and Orlando and Miami,
The stations may cost up to $3M USD a piece in
private investment. Mr. Grey says his company is taking a bold
risk shouldering these high costs in order to bolster the market.
He states, "We’ve just decided that somebody needed to start
this process. You have a lot of the big companies talk about it, but
nobody’s stepped up to the plate and made it happen. You’ve got
to have some visionary risk taking if you want to be a company of the
future. Otherwise, you’ll fall by the wayside."
several companies still have hydrogen plans despite the cold
reception by the research community and government. GM has
worked for several years on fuel
cell-powered Equinox SUVs. Honda has its FCX
fuel cell test vehicle that has seen limited U.S. deployment.
And Mercedes-Benz plans to release F-Cell, a limited edition fuel
cell vehicle to “selected customers” in Europe and the United
States this spring. Mazda and Volkswagen are also eying