While the critics keep kicking hydrogen cars to the curb, the funding continues nonetheless. This week the U. S. House of Representatives passed a $2.9 billion bill for advanced automotive research, some of which will go to hydrogen car R&D. On July 20, 2009 (and before) I had talked about how DOE Energy Secretary Steven Chu recommended to President Obama that all hydrogen car research money be zeroed out.
The U. S. House and Senate took a dim view of this cut, partly because it would mean a loss of jobs in some of their states at a time when unemployment is at an all-time high and partly because we need to spend money on green zero emission resources to combat global warming and increase energy independence.
Now the House measure, lead by Representative Gary Peters, D-Michigan passed this bill 312-114 at a time when the automakers are struggling financially and the way out of this struggle is to research, create and promote greener cars. Whether President Obama signs this bill, however, is another hurdle that must be passed before hydrogen research can continue full tilt.
And even though Energy Secretary Steven Chu wanted to zero out the hydrogen budget a few months ago, his department, the DOE is now offering a $1 million H-Prize. The H-Prize was first introduced in 2007 by Bob Ingles, a representative from South Carolina as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.
The newest version of the H-Prize focuses on unique and advanced hydrogen storage methods on vehicles. One of the hurdles for hydrogen cars has been how to store hydrogen, safely, effectively and with adding as little weight as possible on H2 cars while still retaining the 300 mile range the DOE has called for in the past.
The purpose of the H-Prize is to incentivize small businesses and entrepreneurs to come up with this one solution that will help towards the commercialization of hydrogen cars in the future. So, hydrogen vehicles are not dead as some critics are proclaiming. They are just getting started.