Not normally known for its “America last” stance, Forbes magazine has recently run an article that implies the US, or rather the Obama administration, has missed a trick in dismissing hydrogen as an energy storage medium.
The catalyst for this was the new Toyota fuel-cell hybrid
which the company claims will be able to travel 300 miles between refueling stops. Due to be officially unveiled in 2015, some are suggesting that this will be a breakthrough: the planet’s first mass-market vehicle powered by hydrogen.
Pooh-poohed by Elon Musk as “fool cells”, hydrogen fuel cells were originally dismissed by former US Energy Secretary Steven Chu, due to most hydrogen being produced from natural gas… an obvious waste of a valuable resource.
Chu is now less sceptical, however, citing recent research as a reason to have a more open mind on the subject. This shift in policy has been mirrored in the US Department of Energy (DoE), which in May this year launched the H2USA program to expand hydrogen infrastructure.
What’s more, the DoE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has borrowed four Toyota fuel-cell hybrids to put them through their paces. But the NREL will have a way to go, as Toyota employees has been testing the same vehicles since 2007.