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The station will likely look similar to this self unit. It will cost about $3M USD and fuel 10 to 15 vehicles daily with hydrogen produced by hydrolysis. The energy to split the hydrogen from the oxygen will come from attached solar panels.  (Source: The Center for Energy Research)

SunHydro plans to make I-95, one of the busiest East Coast highways a "hydrogen highway".  (Source: AARoads)
Just as the future looks increasingly dim for hydrogen, the industry gets a boost

Prospects of seeing hydrogen vehicles available commercially anytime soon have looked increasingly bleak.  U.S. President Barack Obama has refused to provide significant federal funding to hydrogen vehicle development, supporting battery electric vehicles instead.  In addition, recent research reports indicate that hydrogen would actually release more net greenhouse gas emissions than traditional gasoline, when analyzed over the entire life cycle.

However, 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. 

SunHydro 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 stations.

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."

Currently, 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."

The 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, Florida.

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."

Currently, 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 hydrogen plans.

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RE: Pfft...
By Penti on 1/28/2010 8:19:26 PM , Rating: 2
I don't, Sweden essentially plans to produce 20-25 TWh of wind power, or up to 15 TWh is the political goal for now. This will be built in just a few years. But even US's well developed wind power market wouldn't deliver anywhere near enough to on hydrogen drive the transportation sector of Sweden. Or maybe 0.66% of you own transports. And you can't scale to onehundredfifty-onehundredsixty times the size. Only way to power countries with any significant portion of renewables is to drastically use less energy. Sweden is already at ~30% renewables, 30% oil/fossils and 30% nuclear in primary energy. We could essentially get by without any nuclear and fossil fuels. But we would have to be without personal transportation. Rebuild our houses and close down most industry. Most countries aren't that blessed with hydro and renewables (forestry) though.

We got a lot of preferable circumstances, we got more hydro per head then Germany uses for it's entire society but we uses way to much energy. However we couldn't even dream on running a hydrogen economy. It's just too inefficient.

Btw you could easily run 20 million passenger cars of plug-in type with your current wind power. If that would be the only thing they were used for. And fuel for range extending would be up to 80% less then just using gasoline. So it's only natural for that to have more of an appeal, there's a real market for it for the car companies. Fuel cells will always play a minor role. We got better ways of energy storage.

There's no way you just can replace 127 450 TWh's (14.5 TW average) of energy with ANY other sources. You also must produce the plants to use the potential energy. As said you can do it with ridiculous amounts of nuclear power if we could build hundreds of reactors every year... construction costs will be several times the world combined GDP either way. 86%+ of the worlds energy is fossil fuels. Pipe dreams aren't implementable. I don't really like it but I expect fossil fuels will dominate pretty much forever.

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