Hydrogen Fuel Gets Closer to Mainstream

hydrogen_station_california

I know, I know. We talk a lot about the fuel that powers our cars on these pages.

We complain about high gas prices, we get cautiously excited about low prices, we wonder if governments should increase taxes on fossil fuels, and we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of alternative-fuel vehicles.

The question always comes back to this: environmental effects. Fossil fuels are damaging to pump out of the earth, and they pollute the atmosphere when burned. Electric-powered cars don’t emit any gasses when driving, but the production of the electricity that charges them can be harmful.

Hydrogen is, theoretically, clean from all angles. A new filling station in California could change the game on how we think about fueling our cars.

Cars running on hydrogen fuel cells emit only water vapor. The technology of using hydrogen to power cars is here, as proven by the 2016 Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell car, the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell crossover, and the Honda FCX Clarity.

Drivers of those cars have exceptionally limited options when it comes to filling up with hydrogen and usually could do so for free at stations provided by the automakers. The problem is that there hasn’t been a good way to meter the amount of hydrogen being pumped, making it hard to make it available for purchase and thus limiting who can fill up and where.

But check this out:

The Cal State L.A. Hydrogen Research and Fueling Facility is now the first fueling station to sell hydrogen. The metering problem has been solved, and even better, the station can produce its own hydrogen, onsite, to sell using solar and wind power.

That means the fuel is completely clean to produce and use. Even better, California has committed $200 million over the next decade to expand the number of stations.

All the pieces are lining up. Automakers are investing in hydrogen-powered cars, and California is investing in filling stations. If consumers invest in the cars, the problems of our fossil-fueled past could be behind us.

Would you buy a hydrogen-powered car over an electric one if you could easily refill it?

-tgriffith

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