A week ago I talked about how the U. S. Army decided to install hydrogen fueling stations to cleanly refuel their test fleet of hydrogen autos. The fueling stations are solar powered and use water so zero emissions are generated from well to wheel, as they say (in the oil industry).
Now, the U. S. Air Force is also getting in on the act as Kent State University and Battelle are collaborating on developing fuel cells for the U. S. military vehicles. This new generation of advanced fuel cells involves an 18-month, $200,000 contract to commercialize the technology in its final phases.
The new gen fuel cells will be used in general military vehicles along with troop transporters and tanks. By using hydrogen fuel cells, vehicles are more stealth as they emit much less noise and lower heat profiles.
Using fuel cells also makes vehicles lighter and thus faster than using traditional internal combustion engines. Fuel cell vehicles also have a much longer range than those operating on batteries and only require that a supply of hydrogen be on hand for refueling.
With the U. S. military buying into hydrogen as viable transportation technology, other governmental agencies can’t be far behind. Yes, President Elect Barack Obama has come out with his short-term preference for plug-in hybrids and all electric autos saying that half of all government vehicles will be these by the year 2012.
But, the President Elect has also stated that hydrogen will be part of his $150 billion alternative energy research and development budget. With a little education from the military and other sources, perhaps the President Elect will also realize that moving to a hydrogen transportation system will create millions of new jobs in building the infrastructure alone.
Add to this the building of clean, green hydrogen autos, that people want to buy and the positive economic impact will be hard to overlook. The contract with the U. S. Air Force is a good start. And, since the finish line hasn’t been determined yet, there is still time to make a case for hydrogen as the clean, green fuel of the future.