From the “mother” of all sources, a new device to reform hydrogen from gasoline has been developed at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richmond, Washington. What makes this reformer special is its ability to reform enough hydrogen to get a vehicle up and running in only 12 seconds. Reformer technology has been notorious for its slowness.
Fuel cell technology has long been an interest of mine. Fuel cells still face a few obstacles before they eventually replace batteries and engines. Technology aside, few proponents have addressed exactly where the hydrogen is going to come from. The most abundant element in the Universe, it is not at all abundant here on Earth. Water is a clean source, but requires a great deal of energy just to split into oxygen and hydrogen. Reformers can convert gasoline and other fuels into hydrogen, but this does not eliminate pollution entirely. President Bush calls for hydrogen production from coal-burning plants, which does not solve the pollution problem at all. Microorganisms, solar cells, nuclear power and other technologies have been suggested as being cleaner producers of hydrogen, but a national grid of hydrogen is still many years away.