In 2003, President George Bush announced a $1.2 billion hydrogen fuel initiative in his State of the Union address that was intended to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil to provide the petroleum we need to produce gasoline that would power our vehicles. That commitment allowed scientists to develop the technology for commercially viable hydrogen-powered fuel cells to power cars, trucks, homes and businesses with no pollution or greenhouse gases.
Since then, there has been so much new funding in developing hydrogen fuel as an alternative to gasoline that we are now seeing many vehicles being powered by hydrogen fuel than ever before. Hydrogen fuel depends on fuel cells to store and process the gas that will power a vehicle. As a result of the initiative promised by President Bush, fuel cell technology has developed so much over the years that General Motors now boosts a one hundred percent hydrogen fuel powered vehicle.
Hydrogen fuel doesn’t come without its downfalls. Hydrogen is four times as expensive to produce as gasoline (when produced from its most affordable source, natural gas). The hydrogen fuel initiative seeks to lower that cost enough to make fuel cell cars cost-competitive with conventional gasoline-powered vehicles by 2010; and to advance the methods of producing hydrogen from renewable resources, nuclear energy, and even coal.
By using hydrogen fuel instead of gasoline, we can actually become energy independent. We won’t have to depend on other countries for our energy resources. Hydrogen is domestically available in abundant quantities as a component of natural gas, coal, biomass, and even water. The Department of Energy estimates that the hydrogen fuel initiative may reduce our demand for petroleum by over 11 million barrels per day by 2040 – approximately the amount of oil America imports today.
Vehicles are a significant source of air pollution in America’s cities and urban areas. Hydrogen fuel cells create electricity to power cars without any pollution. The hydrogen fuel initiative may reduce America’s greenhouse gas emissions from transportation alone by more than 500 million metric tons of carbon equivalent each year by 2040. Additional emissions reductions could be achieved by using fuel cells in applications such as generating electricity for residential or commercial uses.
Hydrogen fuel is the key to a clean energy future. It has the highest energy content per unit weight of any known fuel. When it is burned in an engine, it produces no emissions. In fact, the only emission given off by hydrogen fuel when powering an engine is water vapor.
The newest, biggest thing in the alternative fuel industry is hydrogen fuel. President Bush knew that and now the American people know that as well. With new fuel cell technologies, owning a vehicle that is powered by hydrogen fuel alone is now a reality. And it’s just the beginning! How exciting!