America to get glimpse of hydrogen-powered future

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Americans will have a unique opportunity to see what the future holds for hydrogen in the United States with the launch of an historic two-week cross-country trek of a fleet of clean, efficient hydrogen vehicles.

“Five years ago, President Bush challenged America’s innovators to develop new hydrogen technologies to help reduce our nation’s dependence on oil, and today we have a fleet of hydrogen vehicles making their way across the country,” says U.S. Deputy Secretary Thomas Barrett. “These hydrogen vehicles are the nonpolluting cars of tomorrow, and they are being demonstrated today on our nation’s roads.”

Nine auto manufacturers, the U.S. Department of Energy, California Fuel Cell Partnership, National Hydrogen Association and U.S. DOT are sponsoring the Hydrogen Road Tour to show that hydrogen vehicle and fueling technologies are approaching commercial availability, even as new research and development breakthroughs continue.

“The technology necessary to put these cars on the road, and keep them moving, exists today,” said Administrator Paul Brubaker of the U.S. DOT’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration. “The question is not if hydrogen-powered vehicles will be available commercially, but when.”

Brubaker noted that six transit agencies across the country currently operate hydrogen-powered buses, Southern California auto dealers are leasing hydrogen vehicles, and hundreds of individuals are driving hydrogen-powered vehicles in demonstration programs across the United States. And, he added, hydrogen can be used as a fuel for both a fuel-cell vehicle or in a modified internal combustion engine.

In addition, Brubaker said, hydrogen produces virtually no greenhouse gas emissions, leaving behind only water as a byproduct.

“Hydrogen is part of a balanced and diverse energy portfolio that will help address our future energy, environmental and economic security needs,” U.S. Department of Energy Under Secretary Clarence “Bud” Albright, Jr. said. “This tour provides Americans an opportunity to see what the future could hold for hydrogen-powered vehicles, as we work to help make these vehicles cost-competitive and available for all.”

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The tour will make 31 stops in 18 states, stretching from Maine to California. Hydrogen vehicles from BMW, Daimler, Ford, GM, Honda, Hyundai-Kia, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen will be making the journey and will be joined by hydrogen transit buses along the route. Air Products and Chemicals Inc. and Linde are providing mobile refueling stations and hydrogen fuel.