The fuel of the future – and always will be

President Bush visited California last weekend. One of his stops was at the Fuel Cell Partnership, where he again promoted hydrogen as the ‘fuel of future’.

“I strongly believe hydrogen is the fuel for the future,” he said. “It produces no pollution or greenhouse gas emissions. It can be twice as effective as gas. It can be provided from domestic sources and dramatically curb our dependence on foreign oil. It’s the wave of the future.”

Of course, today we produce hydrogen from fossil fuels like oil and gas. Many scientists refer to hydrogen as a means of transporting energy, rather than an energy source. According to MIT Prof. Mildred Dresselhaus:

While hydrogen has advantages, it’s “not a fuel. You can’t mine it. We would have to make nine million tons a year, and eventually, 20 times more than that,” Dresselhaus said. Because hydrogen is currently produced from fossil fuels, scientists would have to find a way to produce it from sustainable sources such as rainfall and ocean water.

So why is the president so excited about the technology?

Critics say Bush, a former oil executive, has fastened on the far-away technology because it enables him to be seen as environmentally progressive without having to immediately jolt the oil industry with alternative energy initiatives.