What will it take for hydrogen-powered cars, which emit only water vapor as exhaust, to enter American highways in large numbers? Filling stations are a good start.
The Hydrogen Road Tour was a coast-to-coast caravan of hydrogen-powered cars organized to educate consumers and policy-makers on the promise of the technology. The two-week event, which traveled from Portland, Maine to Los Angeles, was sponsored by trade associations and the U.S. Departments of Transportation and Energy.
The first stop after leaving Portland was Billerica, Mass., where there was a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the state's first hydrogen fueling station. Click on the embedded video image to check out the scene.
The hydrogen filling station is located at the corporate headquarters of Nuvera Fuel Cells, which has developed a system to convert natural gas to hydrogen. The company will be the main customer of the hydrogen, which it will use for its product development and research.
During the event, I spoke to the CEO of Nuvera about what's needed to make hydrogen cars for the masses.
I also took a ride in a bi-fuel car that runs on hydrogen and gasoline from BMW, which it calls a transition technology on the way to widespread fuel-cell vehicles.
There are only a handful of hydrogen refueling stations in the U.S. which will be built around large cities. Fuel cell vehicle advocates say those fueling stations will bring more hydrogen cars and cleaner ways to produce hydrogen.