Is hydrogen power real or hype?

September 23rd, 2008

Remember the Hindenburg?

The horrific explosion in 1937 of that zeppelin was arguably caused by use of hydrogen.

Have we learned nothing in the last 70 years or so? Is hydrogen really the answer to the world’s oil crisis?

Partly because of the publicity around the limited release of Honda’s FCX Clarity hydrogen-powered vehicle, the public is being misled into believing that hydrogen is a viable and immediate solution to our dependency on importing oil.

It’s not. I’m not saying hydrogen isn’t a possible source of powering our transportation needs in the future, but I have serious misgivings about any predictions of it being in use by the general public within the next 20 years.

And we can’t wait 20 years to do something drastic about our oil use. We need something today, right now, to substantially reduce the amount of fuel we use so it will last another 20 to 50 years before hydrogen, or whatever other source is discovered, becomes a truly viable option.

But surely, if Honda can offer hydrogen power to the public in 2008, the technology can’t be that far off, can it?

Oh yes it can.

While Honda’s FCX Clarity is a brilliant piece of engineering, it’s really nothing more than a publicity stunt by experts in the field of public relations and branding. Offering a hydrogen-powered car to the public is absolutely huge, and the press they have received goes a long way towards appeasing the green peace crowd. It also influences the rest of us into believing that Honda is on the cutting edge of eliminating the need for fossil fuels.

The FCX Clarity is a marketing gimmick. It’s an ad campaign. A brilliant one, no doubt, but Honda is no closer than any other car company in offering a mass-produced hydrogen powered vehicle.

And check this out: To implement and build the infrastructure required to support a nation of hydrogen vehicles would take 20-50 years alone. Folks, that’s just to put in the filling stations.

As it stands right now, the cheapest fuel to power our transportation needs with is oil. The immediate solution is not hydrogen. The solution is for automakers around the world to step up and offer cars that average 40 MPG, not the current U.S. average of 20.

What do you think: Is hydrogen real or hype?

-tgriffith

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