Submitted by Don Doman.
I read the article in the Seattle Times with anticipation. The headline read First U.S. hydrogen fuel-cell ferry will serve Calif. Red and White Fleet, is a family-owned business in the bay area and has operated since 1892. President Tom Escher said, “It’s very exciting.” He wants to run his entire fleet with zero-emission fuel. I hadn’t heard much about hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in some time, so I eagerly checked on the internet. Over the last half-dozen years a number of automobile manufactures have produced electric vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel. Our vehicle for 2018 is by Hyundai.
“The Hyundai Nexo is a hydrogen fuel cell powered crossover SUV that was revealed at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show on January 8, 2018. Set to replace the Hyundai Tucson FCEV, the Nexo will be the flagship for Hyundai’s eco car portfolio. Hyundai plans to introduce up to 18 eco cars in the global markets by 2025, and sources are told that India also happens to be a key area of focus.” – Wikipedia
I checked on prices and hydrogen cells are cheaper than gasoline and the only by-product is water. What could be better? They could drive these in the desert and possibly use the water for irrigation. California has almost 5,000 hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles. The ferry would be the first passenger ferry in the United States powered strictly by hydrogen fuel cells. On June 25th a three million dollar grant was announced by the California Air Resources Board. It will be administered by the California Air Resources Board.
I did some more research and found that the Bay Area has a fleet of H2 Zero Emission buses. They even have a clip and fold model of an AC Transit bus. I quickly printed it out, did the cuts and folds, plus used a little tape to secure the model and placed it below my monitor screen alongside Ralphie guarding my valuables with his Red Ryder Carbine. Defending the other end of the bus is Beethoven petting an Oregon State Beaver object d’art. What a glorious day.
Unlike complex diesel engines, hydrogen fuel cells are less complicated. They stack up like computer servers. If one malfunctions, it’s an easy swap for complete replacement. The most plentiful gas in the entire universe is hydrogen. Not only that but it is the simplest element and contains only one proton. Hydrogen is a miracle waiting to be harnessed . . . and it appears to be well on its way.
Appearances are deceiving, however. The bus project began in 2007. The last one stopped running in 2015 and on June 24th it was announced the project is through. There were multiple problems with fueling. I would think someone might want to tell both Tom Escher and the California Air Resources Board about the fuel problem. Is the ferry project sunk? I hope not, but I think I wasted my time working on the model bus. In the mean time, I’ll visit the Electric Car Show in Steilacoom on September 8th.