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Is West Virginia’s First Hydrogen Fueling Station a Good Idea?

West Virginia University will be opening the state’s first hydrogen fueling station in Morgantown, WV this summer. The idea behind this is figuring out how to use West Virginia vast coal supplies in order to create a source for clean energy.

According to National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium acting director Bill Davis, “Hydrogen is being used as a fuel for passenger vehicles. Several vehicle manufacturers, such as Honda, Toyota and GM are using it in fuel cells to power electric motors. Our study will be testing its use in internal combustion engines. Hydrogen is currently only available at a few locations nationwide, mostly in California, so making it available in West Virginia will put us at the forefront of a relatively new industry.

“The effort is unique in that it will support obtaining hydrogen fuel by using domestic fossil energy. It is likely that in the long term, hydrogen will either be produced from coal, or coal will provide the electricity necessary for the production of hydrogen via electrolysis. Obviously, as a coal-powered state, this could be significant to West Virginia and could make our state a national leader in the use of hydrogen.”

So, I have mixed feelings about what West Virginia University is doing and the statements made. First, I do like the idea of using different methods of producing hydrogen. But, second, there was no mention of using clean coal technology to produce electricity to produce the hydrogen. Third there was no mention of producing hydrogen directly from coal and sequestering the carbon.

Fourth, coal is a non-renewable fossil fuel that at some point will run out. Fifth, this statement is not accurate: “The effort is unique in that it will support obtaining hydrogen fuel by using domestic fossil energy.” The fact is the over 90-percent of hydrogen produced today is from a fossil energy call natural gas.

If the only point is to sell more coal, then I understand where they are coming from and don’t agree with this philosophy. If the point is to create a clean energy source, then they need to articulate how the coal will be a clean part of this equation.

Smoking cigarettes while running on a treadmill isn’t the most healthful idea and I’m struggling to see where this coal-to-hydrogen plan, as stated, is a good idea, too.

About Hydro Kevin Kantola

Hydro Kevin Kantola
I'm a hydrogen car blogger, editor and publisher interested in documenting the history and the progression of hydrogen cars, vehicles and infrastructure worldwide.

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One comment

  1. Howdy Fellow Passengers on SpaceCraft Earth…

    Using our human ingenuity derived from the evolving Star Dust we are all made from it seems to me we have a solvable hydrogen gas production situation. As we all know, every internal combustion engine, old and new, can be modified to run on hydrogen gas. Forget the external hydrogen gas filling stations. Let us devise an internal catalyst hydrogen gas conversion system. It would go like this. We fill the former gasoline tanks in or on our vehicles with water. We add a combustible lubricant and anti-freeze to the water when needed. The water is then transported via gravity or pumps to the engine compartment. This is where it is converted, with a catalyst, to hydrogen gas just prior to entering the carburetor or combustion chamber. No storage required!!! Anything else would be rather primitive. All the folks put out of work in our new hydrogen energy age are needed to repair our deteriorating infrastructure. What good is it to have a new renewable, inexpensive, non-polluting, drought fighting, energy source when our bridges are falling down and our highways are falling apart? Nothing to it, but to do it!
    Bob

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