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PHOTO CAPTION: This Shell station in suburban Washington, D.C. is one of handful to offer public refueling in America.

Hydrogen Stalled By Lack of Infrastructure, Political Support

According to the National Hydrogen Association, there are only 61 hydrogen fueling stations around the United States, with another 37 planned.

Published: 07-Nov-2008

Though oil and natural gas prices have fallen recently, viable forms of alternative energy are still seen as important for the future. One option touted as a replacement, particularly for gasoline-powered vehicles, has been hydrogen fuel cells. The United States and the European Union have put money into creating hydrogen infrastructure, while automobile manufacturers like Honda and BMW are developing hydrogen-powered vehicles.

Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, but it is bonded with other elements and must be separated to be used. Hydrogen can be produced from a variety of resources. Most hydrogen in the U.S. is produced from natural gas, although as this is a finite resource, researchers have also focused on producing hydrogen from nuclear power or from renewable resources like biofuels.

Hydrogen can be used to power vehicles via fuel cells or hydrogen internal combustion engines. Fuel cell vehicles are electric cars. Hydrogen is pumped into a tank, then fed into the fuel cell where it is converted into electricity used to power the vehicle. A fuel cell is also two to three times more energy efficient than a gasoline engine. Hydrogen internal combustion engines vehicles use a regular combustion engine modified to use gaseous hydrogen instead of liquid gasoline.

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