The U. S. Hydrogen Highway system started in California. One of the reasons is that California is known to have some of the most stringent vehicle emissions standards in the country (as well as pollution from cars).
So, in order to battle pollution from cars, California has turned to alternative fuel vehicles in a big way. And, one method has been putting hydrogen cars on the road for testing as a possible future solution to pollution.
But, one of the objections to hydrogen cars has been the safety issues involved. People in general, want to know, are they safe? So, the manufacturers of hydrogen cars, H2 fueling stations, governing bodies and organizations have bent over backwards making sure safety comes first. Having multiple explosions of cars and fueling stations could set back the growth of this emerging technology for years to come.
One of the organizations that has tackled the safety issues head on has been the California Fuel Cell Partnership (CaFCP) made up from the major players in business, industry and government.
One of the safety measures that have been put in place has been to make sure that hydrogen cars and fueling stations communicate with each other in order to make sure that the vehicle and driver are permitted to dispense H2. This has kept unauthorized drivers out of the loop such as the potential for people doing their own home mods to their cars, stolen vehicles, or other non-approved use.
But, next year some of the hydrogen fueling stations in California are expected to start dispensing H2 fuel commercially. This means that the tight controls need to be loosened a bit. For instance, hydrogen cars and fueling stations will still communicate with each other for safety reasons, but the driver of the vehicle will no longer be identified (each driver usually puts in a PIN number before refueling).
According to the CaFCP, “Vehicle authorization isn’t a new idea. In Canada, for example, an authorization system identifies CNG vehicles to CNG stations. Several companies sell after-market kits to convert gasoline powered vehicles to run on CNG. The authorization system prevents a converted vehicle from filling at the station until the vehicle has been inspected and deemed safe. The system also prevents vehicles with expired fuel tanks from filling. We anticipate that as the hydrogen market grows, companies may similarly introduce hydrogen conversion kits. Like the CNG system, the hydrogen system will ensure conversions pass safety inspection before fueling.”
So, there you have it, one more step towards the commercialization of hydrogen cars will be taken. And, safety is the primary goal in this step.