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.


The Cadillac Provoq fuel cell concept uses GM's E-Flex propulsion system, combining the new fifth-generation fuel cell system and a lithium-ion battery to produce an electrically driven vehicle that uses no petroleum and has no emission other than water.

Powered by a 100 kW electric engine and fuel cell stack, the i-Blue is capable of running more than 370 miles per refueling and achieves a maximum speed of more than 100 miles per hour.

Based on the full-size 2007 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 HD pickup truck, the vehicle underwent extensive internal modifications to meet the technical demands and requirements needed to run on a compressed hydrogen fuel system.


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