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Automobiles Need to Transition to Hydrogen, Not Fossil Fuels

Honda's Hydrogen Fuel Cell Clarity

Representative Ed Paquin is a member of The Vermont House Committee on Natural Resources and Energy, and in an article in The Fairfax News last month, he discussed some initiatives to save energy and reduce dependence on oil imports. I talked to Mr. Paquin about hydrogen as a replacement for gasoline, and offered to write him to encourage transition to hydrogen in Vermont, which would surely promote the transition nationally.

Ford, GM, BMW, DaimlerChrysler, VW, Nissan and others have hydrogen cars on the road, or in development, but the gas stations have yet to be replaced with hydrogen stations. Hydrogen is inexhaustible, generated from water, and burns to water. No pollution, no prospecting or drilling for oil on eco sensitive lands or mining coal, no more oil company driven foreign policy or oil wars, no kidding. I favor a transition tax from fossil and nuclear power plants to hydroelectric, wind and solar energy.

As one example, BMW has six hydrogen-fueled cars on the road. They look very much like conventional BMW'S. The engine can even run on gasoline when the car is out of range of a hydrogen fuel supply. Flicking a switch next to the gear lever switches the fuel injection from gasoline to hydrogen, which is stored in a low temperature parallel tank. When on hydrogen, the car has a top speed of 130 miles per hour.

In other designs, hydrogen is absorbed in powdered metal forming metal hydride, with the hydrogen released as required. But in safety tests, cars liquid hydrogen tanks were dropped up to 90 feet and the hydrogen tank did not explode even though it was under pressure.

Last, but not least, hydrogen costs 1,5 cents per mile compared to 3 or 4 cents for gasoline. Since hydrogen engines have only small variations from gasoline-only engines, we should encourage the development of retrofit kits to convert standard cars to dual fuel. Many other designs use fuel cells, but even in California, where government subsidies and regulations are the most favorable in the world, fuel cell cars are not expected on the road in significant numbers until 2004.

Vermont has neither the air problems nor the finances of California but even here, Montpelier could enact hydrogen subsidies (from a Fossil Profit Tax, "FPT") and favorable regulations to speed transition to dual fuel cars starting now.

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