This leads us to the next step in the process. We need a gas free alternative when the plug in electric vehicle runs out of power. What is it? Dr. Samuelsen sees the car companies moving over time to hydrogen as the best alternative to power a fuel cell under the hood. At this point, there are challenges with hydrogen, but these problems are being worked out and after all, we are looking at least 10 years into the future before the hydrogen car needs to be ready for mass distribution.
Hydrogen can be produced cheaply from a variety of sources. Orange County California will soon be producing the first hydrogen plant made from the digestive gases of a waste water treatment plant. Hydrogen can also be made from the gas that escapes from landfills. The requirements for hydrogen to power vehicles will drop significantly as the electric vehicle takes over most of the day to day requirements for daily trips. Filling stations will add hydrogen dispensing if the energy companies are confident this is going to be the future.
Some people say the pounds per square inch (psi) required for hydrogen vehicles is too dangerous. Dr. Samuelsen believes the psi will come down below 3600 in the future, which is about what a natural gas vehicle runs on today. Honda already is producing a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle that runs on 5000 psi with acceptable range.
So we have a three step process. First, the move we are making to affordable hybrid vehicles that recharge using brakes and an on-board gas engine. Second, the move to plug in hybrid electric vehicles that provide a generous all-electric range and convert to gas for longer trips. Third, the move to hydrogen fuel cell hybrid vehicles that will replace the gas powered engine with the same plug in attributes introduced by the PHEV.
Sure, this is one smart engineers opinion. He is connected and knows the facts. Will it come true? It could, if we will exercise the leadership and foresight to keep moving as a country to oil free automobiles. Customers are ready to make changes. Admittedly, there are many competing technologies today and we will evolve over time. I found it refreshing to speak with an expert who sees a way out of our mess and knows we can get the job done if we stay focused first on the end game of oil independence and then it’s by-product – a smog free sky!
(To learn more about Professor Scott Samuelsen, you can visit http://www.apep.uci.edu/samuelsen/)
Doug Wilson is the the co-author, with Edwin Feulner, of Getting America Right: The True Conservative Values Our Nation Needs Today.
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