Report Questions Bush Plan for Hydrogen-Fueled Cars

National Academies report says battery-powered cars or hybrid cars, which use gasoline and electric motors, could turn out to be better choices than hydrogen

Published: 06-Feb-2004

INGTON, Feb. 5 — George W. Bush's plan for cars running on clean, efficient hydrogen fuel cells is decades away from commercial reality, according to a report by the National Academy of Sciences.

Promoting the technology in his State of the Union address a year ago, Mr. Bush said a hydrogen car might be available as the first vehicle for a child born in 2003. On Monday, the Energy Department included $318 million for both fuel cells and hydrogen production in its 2005 budget. "Hydrogen is the next frontier; a hydrogen economy is where the world is headed," said Spencer Abraham, the secretary of energy.

The Bush administration anticipates mass production of hydrogen cars by 2020. But the academy study, released Wednesday, said some of the Energy Department's goals were "unrealistically aggressive."

Fuel cells produce electricity by putting hydrogen through a chemical process, rather than burning, and their exhaust consists solely of water and heat. Some scientists think they have great promise, not only because they are clean, but also because the hydrogen can be produced from solar or wind power, thus reducing oil imports and the emission of gases that cause global warming.

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