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.