Something Hydrogen This Way Comes

When I sold my car six years ago, I pledged that I would not purchase another until hydrogen fuel cell technology had matured, and a fuel cell car was commercially available. At that time the technology was mirage-like, shimmering on the technological horizon decades away from feasibility.

Honda recently announced that the FCX, a 130hp hydrogen car with a top speed of 100mph, will go into production in 2008. If this happens, Honda will beat Mercedes-Benz's 2012 serialization date and Ford's 2015 estimate into the ground, along with my personal guess at a timeline.

The car is only a one part of a complex equation, however. Hydrogen, a volatile gas at room temperature, is infamously difficult to isolate and transport ---
Hydrogen production has been pegged as a process dirtier than fossil fuel rarefication (consuming more energy for the isolation process than is yielded in the finished fuel), and transportation has been deemed impossible due the the highly explosive nature of the gas.

The solution involves a paradigm shift, replacing centralized refineries with a dispersed system of mini-generators proximal to refueling stations. New processes use solar energy to electrolyze water, producing hydrogen and oxygen in a sustainable zero-carbon cycle (where older means of production used fossil fuels [hydrocarbons] as the hydrogen mine, freeing huge amounts of carbon to isolate the hydrogen).

The East Bay Area has two hydrogen generators / fueling stations currently in operation (Richmond and East Oakland), with a third ready to begin construction (in Emeryville near the base of the Bay Bridge). The new Emeryville station will be a solar electrolysis generator, the first of its kind in northern California.

O hai! Hydrogen solvency ahead of schedule. But...but...I'm not ready to own a car again!

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