On my favorite subject:
Climate expert and former U.S. Department of Energy administrator Joseph Romm, once a proponent, now contends hydrogen cars aren’t the “Holy Grail” many portray them to be.“It’s [hydrogen] not really panned out in the last few years,” said Romm, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C., and formerly the acting assistant secretary of energy in the Clinton administration.
Romm said other problems include the fact that hydrogen is volatile and difficult to store because it can leak out of its high-pressure containers. Cars using hydrogen also require frequent fill-ups, employing a special locking mechanism with the vehicle’s tank to ensure none of the gas escapes.
Prather estimates his car can travel no more than 200 miles without extra fuel.
“You just have too many hurdles to overcome [with hydrogen],” Romm said.
He recommends hybrids, which combine gas-fueled engines and electric motors to increase mileage and reduce harmful emissions, as more practical and affordable.
Long term, Romm thinks the best solution might be hybrid cars with batteries that could be charged by plugging into an electrical outlet — especially if they are using electricity generated by wind turbines or nuclear plants.
Both Toyota and General Motors should have plug-in cars available within a few years, Romm said.
Ford’s hydrogen vehicles, such as the one Prather drives, are being tested across the country and in Europe.
“What we’re doing is gathering information. We’re getting real-world feedback,” Ford spokesman Said Deep said.
Just don’t look for a bunch of hydrogen cars on the road soon, he said. Best-case scenario: “at least 15 years.”