Promote Hydrogen as an Alternative Fuel

Chattanooga Green

Target: Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz

Goal:  Implement strategies to increase the usage and availability of hydrogen, a renewable, non-greenhouse generating fuel, in motor vehicles

Hydrogen (H2) is the building block of water, the lightest and most plentiful element in the universe, and potentially the fuel of the future. Hydrogen can be used in internal combustion engines, which function like the familiar gasoline engine, or in fuel cells, which involved the exchange of electrons without combustion.

Hydrogen has multiple advantages over oil and natural gas as a fuel for motor vehicles. While fossil fuels take millions of years to form, and can be found only in certain deposits deep below the earth, hydrogen can be produced anywhere, instantly, from petroleum, natural gas, or water. There are even bacteria that can produce hydrogen naturally. Burning fossil fuels produces carbon dioxide and contributes to global warming, while burning hydrogen or using in a fuel cell produces only water vapor, and if the hydrogen is extracted using electricity from non-greenhouse sources it has virtually zero carbon footprint. Even if produced from natural gas, hydrogen fuel produces less carbon dioxide than burning that natural gas in an engine, according to the Department of Energy. Finally, while oil and natural gas are non-renewable, hydrogen supplies can be replenished infinitely.

Hydrogen also has the added benefit of serving as a storage medium for excess electricity produced by solar and wind. This opens up the potential to a world entirely powered by solar and wind, with excess electricity stored as hydrogen for use either in generators when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing, or in motor vehicles. New Jersey engineer Mike Strizki has made his own home a proof of concept for the idea of a grid-free, emissions-free world: since 2006, his house, car, and lawnmower have all run on solar energy and hydrogen. If every house in America was like Mr. Strizki’s, we would all have zero power and gas bills, and be immune to power outages and grid failures. The national security benefits alone are astounding, to say nothing of the environmental benefits.

Hydrogen is already in use across the world. Some models of car are currently using hydrogen, and several major manufacturers have pledged to work towards hydrogen vehicles. NASA has long used fuel cells to power deep space probes and satellites, and the United States Military recently conducted a successful test of a hydrogen powered UAV. It will take considerable effort to implement the use of hydrogen as a replacement to greenhouse fuels, but the Department of Transportation, in coordination with vehicle and fuel producers and consumers, can help make it a reality.


Dear Secretary Moniz,

I am writing to you urge your department to promote and invest in hydrogen as an alternative to fossil fuel in vehicles and a storage medium for green energy. Between the increasingly severe consequences of global warming brought about by our use of fossil fuels, and the economic and political turmoil caused by the volatility of fuel prices, it is clear that now is the time to move away from our dependence on oil.

Hydrogen has the potential to replace gasoline and diesel as a vehicle fuel. Unlike oil and natural gas, which must be extracted from deep below the earth, hydrogen can be produced anywhere from water. Using hydrogen produces water vapor, not carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases. And unlike electric vehicle technology, hydrogen fuel cell technology is currently able to match gasoline engines in range and refueling times. Hydrogen can also serve as a storage medium for excess electricity produced by solar and wind; that hydrogen can then be used to produce electricity for the grid when solar and wind production is less than demand, or be used in vehicles.

A hydrogen economy cannot spontaneously emerge. While many major vehicle manufacturers are developing hydrogen cars, consumers won’t buy a car that they can’t find fuel for, and fuel stations won’t stock a fuel that doesn’t sell. That is why I am asking your department to develop the initiatives needed to encourage the greater development and use of hydrogen technologies in vehicles, industry, and the homes of ordinary citizens. Hydrogen holds the promise of cheap, clean, renewable fuel that anyone can produce anywhere from nothing more than electricity and water. Together, government, industry, and citizens can work towards a future powered by carbon-neutral fuels.


[Your Name Here]

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