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Carolyn E. Wants Quicker Action to Bring Hydrogen to Market

I received an email for Carolyn E. a few days back who makes several good points, so I thought I would post her words here along with my response.

Carolyn E.: “I was reviewing info on your site, as well as other websites. I have heard a lot about hydrogen autos and the big auto companies that want us to think we will all have to buy a new auto to get hydrogen power, but I have also found that there are plenty of people working on ways to convert existing vehicles to hydrogen power. This would seem to be not only more cost effective, but better for the environment, as the conversion could take place much quicker.

I also have read about the consumer protection agency attempting to stop companies who are actively trying to bring a product to the public that retrofits current vehicles. Is the real delay in bring hydrogen to the people the fact that big business is trying to maximize it’s profit in the conversion and ensure future profits as astronomical as those big oil is currently enjoying?

We don’t need a hydrogen fueling station on every corner to make this work. There are hydrogen generators out there, being used to generate hydrogen for prototype vehicles. Of course, if I had my own solar powered hydrogen generator and could convert my 8 year old minivan to use hydrogen, the profit of this new technology would be minimized, to say the least.

I, for one, am not interested in trading doing business with “big oil” companies in favor of doing business with “big hydrogen” companies. I feel pretty certain I would still be paying too much at the pump, but of course I could feel better about it because profits would not be going to Middle East conglomerates, and the fuel would be better for the environment.

People are getting angry out there, we know the technology exists to bring us a real alternative to oil, but there is a lot of foot dragging in an attempt to realize the “maximum profit” to this “new” technology.”

HK: “To take your points one by one, Quantum and a few others are converting gasoline powered internal combustion engines to run on hydrogen. Another alternative is to use a one of the hydrogen generators for autos and trucks that I have been talking about for the past several weeks that uses a small tank of water to supply supplemental hydrogen to one’s engine making it run more cleanly, get greater gas mileage while reducing emissions and dependence upon foreign oil.”

In the wake of record profits for the big oil company, it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if there were dragging their feet about spending money on hydrogen and other alternative energies.

It’s true that we don’t need a hydrogen fueling station on every corner. I recent weeks I’ve talked about the cost of building the hydrogen infrastructure and GM’s Larry Burns has stated that building only 12,000 fueling stations at $2 million apiece will put 70-percent of the people in this country within 2 miles of a station.

This is nowhere near the current number of gas stations estimated to be around 130,000 to date. In addition, most hydrogen autos are also hybrid vehicles and average twice the gas mileage as standard automobiles. So, the price of a gallon equivalent of hydrogen at $4.99 per liter at the Irvine, California station, is in effect closer to $2.50 per gallon because of the extended gas mileage of these vehicles.

Of course, we don’t have to build $2 million hydrogen stations to make this work either. A couple of days ago, I had talked about how to build a portable hydrogen fueling station and the costs are in the range of $300,000 to $400,000. These portable stations can be moved to where the autos are located such as fleet vehicle lots, stadium, mall and airport parking lots and other places where consumers may want mobile refueling of their vehicles.

The idea of Big Oil Companies transitioning into Big Hydrogen Companies is distasteful for many. Right now, there are several companies working hard to make sure that this scenario never happens. For instance, GM, General Electric and Honda are all working on home hydrogen refueling stations so that consumers can refuel their hydrogen autos in the privacy of their own garages.

Also, even though Shell Hydrogen, ChevronTexaco and BP are all oil companies doing a little research on hydrogen fueling stations, lets not forget that the biggest players in this market are not the oil companies but gas companies such as Air Products and Linde. Because of current and future competition, a smooth transition from Big Oil to Big Hydrogen is highly unlikely.

I agree with the foot dragging part. The automakers are frustrated that the hydrogen autos they are building are far outpacing the hydrogen fueling stations being build. The regulators don’t see to have plans to keep the build up of autos and fueling station in parity with on another.

As far as what we can do right now, there is always the hydrogen booster technology that will give consumers immediate results. I see this a good transitional technology until the hydrogen infrastructure is indeed built.

It seems ironic to me, that in California at least, that the Air Resources Board, which seems to have its fingers in pies of alternative energy vehicles has not even addressed hydrogen boosting technology as a resource for cleaning up the California emissions. Hydrogen autos, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric autos seem firmly planted on their radar, but hydrogen boosting, which can cut gas mileage and emissions by 20 to 80 percent is something that is not even on their maps.

Perhaps the 2008 Hydrogen Booster Rally that I talked about yesterday, would do well to make another road trip, this time from Maryland to Sacramento, California. A couple of laps about the CARB facility, honking horns and yelling about boosters should do it. Of course, many like myself would be pleased to see the video of this posted on YouTube.”

About Hydro Kevin Kantola

Hydro Kevin Kantola
I'm a hydrogen auto blogger, editor and publisher interested in documenting the history and the progression of hydrogen autos, vehicles and infrastructure worldwide.

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