CITRIS Feature Article

Over the past two decades American's consumption of oil has grown
steadily, resulting in more imports and more stress on international
oil markets. In response to growing concerns about oil supply an array
of alternative fuels have been championed as possible alternatives to
oil. In the late 1970s it was synthetic fuels; methanol gained favor in
the 1980s; and battery-powered vehicles were backed by many major car
companies in the 1990s. Today, however, some CITRIS researchers at the
University of California at Davis and California Governor Arnold
Schwarzenegger agree that the most plausible answer may be hydrogen.

April 20, 2004, amid a roar of applause and flashing media cameras,
Governor Schwarzenegger launched the Hydrogen Highway Network at UC
Davis and unveiled the university's new hydrogen fueling station, the
first publicly accessible station in the network.

"The goal of
the California Hydrogen Highway Network initiative is to support and
catalyze a rapid transition to a clean, hydrogen transportation economy
in California, thereby reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and
protecting our citizens from health harms related to vehicle
emissions," said Governor Schwarzenegger in his California Hydrogen
Highway Network Action Plan.

Leading the charge to help
fulfill this vision is CITRIS researcher and Professor of Civil
Engineering and Environmental Science and Policy at UC Davis Dan
Sperling. "The case for hydrogen is threefold," notes Sperling. "First,
hydrogen fuel cell vehicles appear to be a superior consumer product
desired by the automotive industry. Second … the potential exists for
dramatic reductions in the cost of hydrogen production, distribution,
and use. And third, hydrogen provides the potential for zero tailpipe
pollution, near-zero well-to-wheels emissions of greenhouse gases, and
the elimination of oil imports…"

In addition to his
professorial duties at UC Davis, Sperling is also Director of the
Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS-Davis). The institute, which
is playing a pivotal role in helping to advance hydrogen fuel cell
research and development, was recently awarded $10 million in research
and outreach grants over a five year period by the U.S. Department of
Energy. The award is part of an overarching $350 million Hydrogen
Research Initiative program being funded by the U.S. Department of

"UC Davis already partners with the Department of
Energy on many clean energy projects. The new hydrogen programs will
provide one more outstanding opportunity for us to apply our research
and education capabilities in support of federal initiatives," said

One of the projects that will be facilitated by the
grant is the development of a state-of-the-art hydrogen fueling station
based at UC-Davis that will be constructed by ChevronTexaco. This
station will be a test platform for both "well-to-wheels" hydrogen
systems and individual elements of the systems, including hydrogen
generation, power stations, fueling procedures, fuel cells, and design
codes. ITS-Davis and CITRIS researchers will also work with industry
partners on using fuel cells for off-road vehicles, such as maintenance
and utility vehicles. CITRIS is excited to add these projects to its
expanding research portfolio.

For more information: