Last Friday I talked about how plug-in vehicles lack a recharging infrastructure. Critics of hydrogen autos typically say that there is absolutely no hydrogen infrastructure whatsoever inside the U. S. But, that is not true. While hydrogen autos do lack an adequate refueling infrastructure, there is already some production and distribution going on of which you may not be aware.
For instance, I’ve come across three maps recently by the Department of Energy that may be of interest. The first map shows the hydrogen pipeline system that already exists throughout Texas and Louisiana. These hydrogen pipelines cover roughly 900 miles along the Gulf Coast.
The next map shows hydrogen production centers scattered across the U. S. At least 24 states have some sort of refining centers that produce hydrogen. The third map from 2003 shows the U. S. hydrogen refining centers by volume.
Now, most of the hydrogen presently produced in this country goes towards de-sulfuring crude oil to produce gasoline and diesel fuel. As vehicles powered by gasoline and diesel start to decline because of the rise in alternative fuel vehicles, the hydrogen produced for refineries can then be transitioned over to be used for hydrogen autos.
Critics should also note two recent announcements about world-scale hydrogen production facilities that have been or are in the process of being built. Last month Air Liquide opened up a hydrogen production facility in the San Francisco, California area. This facility is able to pump out 120 million standard cubic feet per day of hydrogen.
Meanwhile, Air Products has announced that it is building a hydrogen production facility in Luling, Louisiana that will go online in 2012 with a capacity of 100 million standard cubic feet per day. As far as hydrogen fueling pumps either operational or planned, a search of the National Hydrogen Association website shows there are 112 of these H2 refueling stations across 25 U. S. states.
This little exercise is not to convince critics that there is now an adequate hydrogen production and distribution infrastructure in the U. S., since this is not so. But, what is also not so is that no hydrogen infrastructure currently exists. The truth is somewhere in-between.
Yes, an adequate hydrogen infrastructure needs to be built for hydrogen autos to succeed. But, no in order for hydrogen autos to succeed this hydrogen infrastructure does not need to imitate the gasoline station on every corner model. With a little creativity and practicality we can come up with a hydrogen infrastructure that is unique to hydrogen autos. So, let’s get brainstorming.