Guardian Unlimited on the snags in the hydrogen ecnomy

Recently, Bibi van der Zee, a writer for the Guardian Unlimited, took a test drive in one of BMW's Hydrogen 7s. It's a damn comfortable ride, as I experienced at the AFVI conference a few months ago. Van der Zee calls the chance " irresistible," but quickly confronted the question (as we all must when hydrogen cars come up): "What's the point of making hydrogen-powered cars if there's no fuel for them?"

The article, then, is a look at the problems facing adoption of a hydrogen infrastructure here in May, 2007. We've heard a lot of this before: how to make the hydrogen in the first place, electric cars as a better choice, the constant "five to ten years from now" timeframe. I think she makes too much of a stumbling block out of the way different manufacturers are designing hydrogen cars (ICE vs. fuel cells), since the engineers are way ahead of the curve on this one and they'll have plenty of time to reconfigure powertrain parts in time for the appearance of widespread hydrogen fuel pumps.

Van der Zee even says that the hydrogen pipe dream is a bit of an American fantasy (even though it a BMW she was riding in), which I found interesting. Another bit that we don't hear much (but should be pretty obvious), is that, "an oil company insider tells me that very few people in their industry take hydrogen (or electricity for that matter) very seriously at all; it's just not considered a viable mainstream prospect. The majority of the industry believes that the future will lie in bio-fuels (which, as we are increasingly hearing, come with their own major pitfalls) and perceives hydrogen and electricity as having little more than novelty value." We do hear a lot from Chevron and the like about their biofuels programs. Could they be one of the largest factors holding back the hydrogen economy?

[Source: Guardian Unlimited]

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