Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Researchers Think Fuel of the Future Will Be Hydrogen

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Researchers Think Fuel of the Future Will Be Hydrogen

Article excerpt

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - The search for an oil substitute has lost much of its urgency, but researchers in Florida, Texas and Hawaii believe they are getting closer to the day when hydrogen is as common as gasoline.

They view hydrogen as the fuel of the future, a replacement for all fossil fuels - not only in cars but in the home, in industry and elsewhere.

``The arguments for development of hydrogen resources are irrefutable,'' said David Block, director of the Florida Solar Energy Center, one of the four facilities trying to come up with methods to produce hydrogen inexpensively on a large scale, use it to generate power, and store it.

Hydrogen is one of the most abundant elements. It can be separated from its chemical combinations - like water - in a number of ways. It won't pollute the environment and in fact, scientists working on the project sa, can help stave off the global warming blamed in part on the effect of burning fossil fuels.

Perhaps the best-known use is on space shuttles, which burn 385,000 gallons of supercold liquid hydrogen, mixed with liquid oxygen, to reach orbit.

Participating in the federally funded research project with the Florida Solar Energy Center are scientists at the Clean Energy Research Institute at the University of Miami, the Center for Electrochemical Systems and Hydrogen Research at Texas A&M University and the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute.

``Hydrogen can be produced now. The problem is that th cost is prohibitive'' for everyday consumer use, said John Appleby, who heads the Texas A&M effort to use photovoltaic cell structures to make hydrogen to use in cars. He, too, believes using hydrogen is important to curtail the greenhouse effect.

``We feel that the way to go in the future would be nonpolluting vehicles powered by fuel cells using hydrogen, to get rid of the pollution once and for all,'' said Appleby, a professor of applied electrochemistry. ``The cost would be reasonable to the consumer and the cost to society wouldn't exist.''

However, efforts to come up with an economically affordable hydrogen fuel cell - or produce hydrogen by a variety of other methods - ``will take forever. We're talking well after the year 2000,'' Appleby said. …

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