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Hydrogen faces a number of challenges when it comes to supplanting gasoline as the world's transportation fuel of choice, one of the largest of which was underscored by two small explosions at a Rochester, New York refueling station yesterday. According to reports, two people were injured when a spark ignited the fuel during a tank exchange. Praxair driver Robert Scruggs was transported to Strong Hospital with second-degree burns to his hands and face as a result of the incident, and a female Burger King employee was treated for ear pain in connection with the explosions.

According to local news outlets, Praxair is a supplier for General Motors' fleet of hydrogen vehicles, which refuel at the Rochester station. Autoblog has contacted GM to confirm that this is the same station that the company's fuel-cell Sequel Equinox vehicles use, but we had not heard back as of publication time.

The Greater Rochester International Airport was closed for about 50 minutes due the explosions, and some flights were diverted mid-air while authorities sorted out the cause of the incident. Click on the YNN link below for local news video coverage, as well as on the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle for more information.

*Update: GM spokesperson Scott Fossgard said that the company's fleet of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles have logged over 1.6 million miles with over 16,000 hydrogen fill ups by over 800 drivers. In all of that time, the company has never had an incident like the one in Rochester. While the GM fleet uses the filling station to top off its vehicles this incident did not involve any of GM's vehicles, personnel or customers.

[Sources: YNN, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle]


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  • 64 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Just like computers, where in the 80's you needed a MainFrame to run calculations, now my iPhone can do it.

      Electric Vehicles will be powered in our own homes first from your local utility, then from your roof.

      For the oil industry to fight that is a Guaranteed Losing Battle. Only Bad Management, funded by Wall Street, would fight that battle, instead of prepare to make the future happen.

      Drill Baby Drill is the cheer of the Losers.
      JetMechMA
      • 4 Years Ago
      Nicholas: May I also remain you that Hydrogen is among the most EXPLOSIVE materials found in our Planet.

      JM: .....next to gasoline.
      • 4 Years Ago
      More details:

      " The county's fire coordinator tells News 10NBC, the fire started at the rear of the truck where the fuel is transferred.

      "We did learn that at no time were the tanks or the cylinders themselves compromised or on fire. There was actually a one inch steel plate that went between the tanks and the manifold operation in the rear of that vehicle. The fire appears to have started at the main fill valve. The reason why the fire started is still under investigation." says Samuel DeRosa, Monroe County Fire Coordinator."

      http://www.whec.com/news/stories/S1716520.shtml?cat=566

      Accidents will happen, and hydrogen refueling is still in a prototypical phase. We need to find out exactly what happened so that future accidents can be minimized.

      "Praxair driver Robert Scruggs was transported to Strong Hospital with second-degree burns to his hands and face as a result of the incident, and a female Burger King employee was treated for ear pain in connection with the explosions."

      In retrospect, how much more severe would the injuries have been if it were a gasoline tank that exploded? I wish the injured a speedy recovery.
        • 4 Years Ago
        haha Nicholas...

        Yes, hydrogen is a hoax. I have reason to suspect oxygen and carbon too. You really have to watch out for those impostor elements.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Nicholas

        All autos, whatever their power source, will have safety issues. Anytime you are storing energy - in any form - there is the potential for that energy to be released, creating safety issues.

        There is a very good reason behind Nissan making potential Leaf buyers get their home wiring inspected by professionals.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Nicholas may be referring to "The Hydrogen Hoax", an article by Robert Zubrin in the New Atlantis magazine

        http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/the-hydrogen-hoax
        • 4 Years Ago
        "Accidents will happen, and hydrogen refueling is still in a prototypical phase."

        I'm yet to read of a similar accident with a Battery Electric Car. Hydrogen is a hoax which has more than one issue, including safety.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Sorry katshot,

        Perhaps I shouldn't have used that terminology because of the specifics of where the fire occured - on the tanker.

        Hydrogen refueling stations are what are in the prototype phase, while the SAE is developing standards for connectors for hydrogen refueling nozzles designed for dispensing H2 into a private consumer's vehicle.

        It was only as recently as March 2010 when the SAE issued "Technical Information Report J2601, “Fueling Protocols for Light Duty Gaseous Hydrogen Surface Vehicles,” the first industry-wide protocol for the fueling of gaseous hydrogen into on-road passenger vehicles operating with nominal working pressures of 35 and 70 MPa (5076 and 10,153 psi)."

        http://www.sae.org/mags/aei/enrg/8004

        The technology for transferring bulk H2 (in both gaseous and liquid forms) has been around in industrial applications for decades, with an extremely high safety record.

        "I seriously doubt you'll ever see a hydrogen fueling station manned by the likes of the people you see pumping gas."

        As to this statement, I can assure you are already very wrong. Just last week I visited the H2 refueling station in Columbia, SC, where H2-powered vehicles are refueled on a regular basis, by regular people. It's located right next door to the Marionette Theater, around the corner from the Visitor's Center downtown.
        • 4 Years Ago
        BURN BA BY B U R N
      • 4 Years Ago
      So besides that GM USED this station, what connection exactly does it have with GM?

      From the information posted, sounds to me that it had little to do with GM, and a hell of a lot more of an issue with Praxair.


      But I guess fear mongering is harder to justify when you have to use facts, eh AB??
        • 4 Years Ago
        The county leases the property to GM in exchange for a hydrogen powered vehicle . Praxair is the supplier of the hydrogen for GMs fleet. Outside of that it has little to do with GM...
        • 4 Years Ago
        Gotta love that headline...
      • 4 Years Ago
      Written several years ago, this article is as much a valid point and reason to give H2 the boot from the government handout line. Let's get practical, and reasonable, and get the US off imported fuel from tyrannical countries bent upon taking us over, penny by penny.

      http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/the-hydrogen-hoax

      The US Department of Energy was introduced to the governemnt system by the Carter administration over 30 years ago. This department was formed to reduce our dependency on imported oil. It has failed. Dismantle it and use the funds that would have gone to the operation of this defunct and useless appendage of the government as an incentive payment to the company or even the garage tinkerer who develops a practical solution to replace gasoline with something viable. You give enough incentive, it will be done, I promise. 24 BILLION dollars (see article below concerning the 2010 DOE budget) would be a very good incentive payment.

      http://www.environmentalleader.com/2010/02/02/presidents-energy-budget-targets-clean-energy-energy-efficiency-advances/
      • 4 Years Ago
      That happens with forms of fuels.Its happened to every form of fuel while putting it into storage tanks.Propane is worst,that stuff is heavier than air and makes a serious boom when it goes off.Hydrogen is the only way to go,its the most abundant element in the known universe and burns really well.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Some even claim that the Hindenberg dirigible might have been sabotaged.
      • 4 Years Ago
      There is a major difference between a fire and an explosion, namely rate of combustion. If that fueling station had exploded those people in close proximity would have been dead and the fueling station would have been a hole in the ground and everything around it would have been knocked flat. Holes in the ground from an explosion are very visible and readily identified by almost everyone, knowledgable or not. So when you are exploring the facts, first look at the photo and identify the hole, or lack thereof.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Until hydrogen can be reformed from (salt) water by use of 'green' energy sources, it really is as bad a path as grain-based ethanol. The current plan of fossil-fuel based reformation to hydrogen is about as dumb as it can get. Better to burn that directly.

      Hope the injured recover fully, but there will always be accidents with flammable materials of any kind.
        • 4 Years Ago
        As long as hydrogen is reformed from natural gas, you might as well just power the cars from natural gas! Natural gas has a higher energy density anyways.

        Hydrogen is just a clean facade on the same dirty problem of using fossil fuel.
      • 4 Years Ago
      It's not your sensational headlines that got me in your bed AB, it was the way you winked at me when we first met...
      • 4 Years Ago
      See, America? SEE? GM gets bailouts and joins the terrorists!

      /sarcasm

      /glenbeck

      /i'mactuallyafanofGM

      /(I do hope that the people who were hurt will recover quickly.)
      • 4 Years Ago
      nichola check you facts the most expol;sive thing on earth is lquid oxgen is the powerful of all other chemicals its call LOX i seen first hand on aircraft carrier during a war so,your chemistry books wrong and so our you!
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