United States

United States

A call for free range hydrogen

American actor Dennis Weaver bellowed at the top of his voice, "We need free range hydrogen!" He looked like an evangelist calling for the second coming. What he meant was that he hoped scientists and engineers would find a practical method of obtaining and storing hydrogen from the world at large, from the hydrolysis of water or from some other plentiful source -- and that the source used to activate the procedure would be clean and green.

merican actor Dennis Weaver opened his arms to the heavens and lifted his face skyward. "We need," he bellowed at the top of his voice, "We need free range hydrogen!" He looked like an evangelist calling for the second coming. What he meant was that he hoped scientists and engineers would find a practical method of obtaining and storing hydrogen from the world at large, from the hydrolysis of water or from some other plentiful source -- and that the source used to activate the procedure would be clean and green, from wind or solar technology or some other form of non-fossil fuel technology.

Half those in the listening audience erupted in loud cheers as Weaver cried out his mantra. The other half clapped politely at best, or simply glowered. Weaver won fame for his portrayal of Sam McCloud in a TV series of that name which ran throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

The big battle at the 15th annual US Hydrogen Conference, held at the end of April in Hollywood, was deeply political. Many of those who had long supported increased exploration of hydrogen as an energy carrier were strongly committed to generating that hydrogen from renewable sources. They included men like Paul Scott of ISE Corporation, working to produce a hydrogen-power hybrid electric bus. Scott has already begun generating hydrogen from a wind turbine among the 4600 at North Palm Springs.

But also present at the conference were business executives from some of the major energy corporations. A number of researchers spoke about how to produce hydrogen from coal, including Arnaldo Frydman of GE Global Research and Arthur Hartstein of the US Department of Energy. "Fossil fuels are the obvious choices from which large quantities of hydrogen can be generated," said Frydman. He went on to say that the Bush administration had heavily funded research that focused on how to reduce the cost of obtaining hydrogen via either coal or natural gas.

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