Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Dent Proposes Converting Interstate 78 to Hydrogen Highway East

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingNo one disputes we're running out of gas. Our global gas gauge is flickering on E. We could argue about just when that might occur, but it's a simple fact that oil is a nonrenewable energy source. There's only so much. Another simple fact is that we depend on foreign sources for our oil.

Grassroots groups like Lehigh Valley Beyond Oil (LVBO) have sprung up to address this problem. Charles Dertinger, Democratic candidate for Congress (Pa. 15th), joined LVBO in an oil independence rally early this summer. But it may surprise you to know that Congressman Charlie Dent has proposed a practical solution to ease our diminishing oil supply.

When I met Dent this summer, he spoke enthusiastically about hydrogen as an alternative energy source. I honestly didn't think he was really serious until last week's debate, when he spoke of converting Interstate 78 into a "hydrogen highway." I did some research and was surprised to learn that, although he's only a freshman Congressman, Dent is actually one of the four founders of the House's bipartisan House & Fuel Cell Caucus.

Dent's congressional website tell us "Interstate 78 is uniquely situated and suited to be a gateway to the hydrogen economy - the Hydrogen Highway East." A hydrogen network will (1) decrease our dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuels; (2) protect our citizens and preserve our environment from the harmful effects of vehicle emissions; and (3) mitigate traffic and congestion. Right now, hydrogen infrastructure is being planned along the highway. Yesterday's Morning Call tells us Lehigh Valley's Air Products is already at work on a permanent hydrogen fueling station as an important link in "Hydrogen Highway East." And Allentown's Da Vinci Center is the recipient of a $400 thousand federal grant to develop hydrogen fueled cars.

But is hydrogen safe? We all remember the Hindenberg. Surprisingly, it is not inherently explosive, and is actually safer than gasoline.

There are also questions about the energy and cost consumed in hydrogen production, the relative difficulty in storage, and a worry that hydrogen will be produced from fossil fuels instead of other sources.

Hydrogen is no silver bullet, but it's nice to see local solution taking shape to combat a global problem. And, as LVDem tells us, Lehigh County is also making environmental strides with its recent purchase of a hybrid.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey does this mean the Amish SUV is two oxen pulling a Wagon?!!!!

Bernie O'Hare said...

An Amish SUV would have 2 horses. I think oxen are for a pick up truck.

Bernie OHare 4 said...

Actually, air products is putting a bit of a political spin on their "hydorgen safety" page. Hydrogen isn't inherently exposive in the sense that it needs oxygen to become a combustible. Unfortunately, that is true of anything. You can't have fire without oxygen. Gasoline would never light without oxygen either. I think from a scientific standpoint they are being irresponsible and misleading. Also, as for it being safer than gasoline, I don't buy it. Hydrogen is arguably the most dangerous gas in a lab. If you don't take every precaution there will be an explosion, and it doesn't take a lot of H2 to cause a big bang. Of course when it does combust, it is much cleaner than gasoline, so when an entire station goes up, its true, it will at least be a clean burn. I am most interested in storing hydrogen in an inert environment such as a methanol fuel cell. It will store the hydrogen as methanol until ready to be consumed by the engine. This of course has its drawbacks as well, methanol is also combustible. The tradeoff is that you don't need a whole lot of methanol to evolve a decent amount of H2. So I would like to see more funding for this type of research. We'll see.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Buddy, Thanks for the clarification. But really, H2 is very safe. I have some right here and I'd like to show you just how safe it .......... KABOOM! ("Oh, the humanity!")

Anonymous said...

An Amish Limousine is six horses pulling a family of twelve in a cart

Bernie O'Hare said...

Very good!

Anonymous said...

You don't have to worry about horses blowing up if there is an ignition problem, however, you never know what their hooves will throw up in your face!

LVDem said...

Hm... exploding horses...