Chris Schneider: The power of Hydrogen energy

Chris Schneider: The power of Hydrogen energy

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Chris Schneider

Chris Schneider

As a young scientist, I marveled at the NASA space program. Rocketry earned me a victory in a science fair when I was in seventh grade in La Crosse. In July 1969, the country was astonished by our landing a man on the moon.

Hydrogen energy was a vital part of the “one giant leap for mankind.”

In June 2002, Honda introduced the Honda FCX. The first zero emission fuel-cell car on the road. It fused the body of the EV plus (Honda’s EV alternative to GM’s EV1) with the compressed gaseous fuel tank from a 1998 Civic GX (Compressed Natural Gas—CNG).

A star was born and I yearned to experience it.

In September 2003, Gunnar Lindstrom met me at the Honda headquarters building in Torrance, California, with an EV plus that I drove to the hydrogen pump on the other side of the campus. My mission to experience it became reality.

Steam reforming of natural gas does separate the four hydrogen atoms from the single carbon atom in methane. This process only becomes renewable if bio methane and steam heat comes from renewable sources.

I have had the experience of putting both landfill and cow manure, bio-digested, bio-methane in a Civic GX. Janesville’s wastewater treatment facility does clean its bio-methane for transportation and lawnmower fuel but would not share it.

In 2008, I added two significant experiences to my hydrogen knowledge. The Hydrogen Road Tour allowed me to drive Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Nissan, Mercedes and Hyundai experimental vehicles. It also allowed me to take my family to the Paris Auto Exposition, which was showing the Honda Clarity FCEV, the Mitsubishi I-MiEV and Axiom’s additional Electric Vehicles.

Axiom is a French manufacturer that Columbia Par Car worked with on its Neighborhood Electric Vehicles, which I represented in La Crosse.

Now comes the very exciting experience of leasing a Honda Clarity fuel cell vehicle (FCEV). I was able to take my first grandchild home from the hospital in it and that was another dream come true.

During the past three years, I have visited most of the pumps in California. All of the pumps combined must have 33% renewable hydrogen factor or the project is stopped due to California law. One of the pumps I used is 100% renewable, although it does use an electrolysis of water hydrogen production system.

I had the distinct pleasure of being a panelist on the 2017 Fuel Cell Seminar and Energy Exposition conducted by the Fuel Cell & Hydrogen Energy Association in Long Beach.

Its port is one of the most active in the USA. As such, it has many diesel-powered oceangoing vessels, container-removal equipment and drayage trucks.

City rules now prevent diesel-powered trucks from taking containers from the port to a rail or truck yard due to emission challenges. As a result, electrified trucks have become the answer.

Yosemite National Park was my destination after the seminar and I ended up going past an enormous dairy operation.

I believe that if concentrated animal-feeding operations are to be allowed at all, they should have to deal with numerous manure issues.

My driving buddy and I noticed an unusual structure being put up at the dairy farm. Two weeks later, Wisconsin Public Radio would make the announcement that Toyota was planning to anaerobically digest the cow manure and then perform steam reformation on the bio-methane.

Local solar panels would provide the energy for both processes and compressing the hydrogen. A tanker truck would come out for the hydrogen and take it to the port for refueling hydrogen electric trucks. That’s 100% Green Hydrogen from cow manure.

David Bange’s column (Tribune, May 31) talked about hydrogen as electrical power stations, and while his first premise that cost is an issue is always true, the second premise that they can’t operate on pure hydrogen is not true.

Hydrogen fuel cells for utility-scale electrical energy for the New York City Central Park police department have existed for a decade and the Coca-Cola bottling facility that my son works at in nearby Elmsford also has one.

Please don’t wait for the government to push the Green New Deal. Grassroots methods are far more successful and economic. Look at what we have learned in the green transportation segment during the past two decades.


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