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Bush’s Earth Day Message: Hydrogen, Plug-Ins and Ethanol

22 April 2006

President Bush chose the California Fuel Cell partnership as the venue for an Earth Day address on advanced transportation, during which he emphasized hydrogen as the future solution, but referenced hybrids, plug-in hybrids and ethanol as being important transition technologies in the short-term.

Before touching on the solutions for the future, the President talked about rising oil and gasoline prices, and some sporadic shortages. The President attributed the rising price of gasoline to three factors: rising demand with constrained supply, lack of refinery capacity in the US, and the switch from MTBE to ethanol as an oxygenating additive.

We’re going to have a tough summer because people are beginning to drive now during tight supply. The Energy Department predicts gas prices are going to go up...And all these factors remind us that we got to do something about our dependence on oil. That’s what the lessons at the pump say today.

The solution to oil dependency and high prices, according to the President, is “to promote hydrogen and hybrid vehicles and ethanol.”

I strongly believe hydrogen is the fuel of the future. That’s what we’re talking about. Hydrogen is clean; hydrogen is domestically produced; and hydrogen is the wave of the future. And the people here at the California Fuel Cell Partnership understand that.

One of the reasons I have come here is because I want the American people to understand that their tax dollars are yielding important results, that we are making progress, that the idea of having a hydrogen-powered automobile is not a foolish dream. It’s a reality that is going to come to be.

With hydrogen as the long-term solution, the President made a case for the immediate use of hybrids—and especially plug-in hybrids—as “a good way to reduce our oil consumption right now.

We can affect our dependence on oil by encouraging people to purchase hybrid vehicles. And that’s why the federal government passed a law that says you get a tax credit of up to $3,400 for a hybrid vehicle purchase.

What’s really going to be interesting, however, is what’s called plug-in hybrid vehicles. And we’re spending $31 million annually to speed up research into these battery technologies.

...We’re trying to develop a battery that will power your vehicle, where you plug it in at night and you drive the first 40 miles on electricity alone...A lot of people don’t drive more than 40 miles a day in big cities. So all of a sudden...we’re developing a technology that says you’ll drive by the use of electricity, and you won’t use gasoline at all.

And one way to affect consumption is to speed up the development of these plug-in hybrids, and we’re doing just that at the federal level. It’s a promising technology that will help people change the way they drive. It’ll be a transition to the hydrogen fuel cell batteries.

The President also described himself as “a big proponent of ethanol”—pervasive E10 blends in any vehicle with a transition to E85 flex-fuel vehicles. And he once again noted the importance of cellulosic ethanol, and the production of the fuel from “wood chips and stalks and switchgrass.”

Catherine [Dunwoody, the executive director of the California Fuel Cell Partnership] reminded me, however, in my discussions with her that switchgrass can also be used to manufacture hydrogen. She wanted me to make sure that in my description of what is possible in the United States that we make sure one technology does not pirate money for another technology.

And it’s not going to happen. What’s going to happen is we’ll have research on all fronts to achieve a grand national objective. And there’s no doubt in my mind we’ll be able to achieve this objective.

Resources:

  • Transcript of speech to California Fuel Cell Partnership

April 22, 2006 in Ethanol, Fuel Cells, Hybrids, Hydrogen, Plug-ins, Policy | Permalink | Comments (54) | TrackBack (0)

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tony,

plug-in hybrids are a good step towards full battery electrics, so, if the pres is supporting plug-ins, he is supporting your Ultimate Battery

of course, batteries and hydrogen are not energy solutions, they are just energy carriers. so, the elephant in the room is where the energy will come from in the first place?

all of the new 100+ MW power plants planned in the US are coal powered. not advanced coal, traditional coal.

I just wish Bush would do more than just talk about it! Why doesn't he raise fuel economy standards appropriately? Why is he fighting California on this issue? It seems to me its all PR...

Shaun, you are correct in that I did not talk about where the energy was going to come from. I wanted to focus on the electric solution to personal transportion. From energy source to car, the EV is the most efficient solution.
The problem with the President, and congress is that they have NO CONCRETE PLAN for fossil fuel elimination.
Hell, the Nordic countries already have plans in place to do it, by what, 2020?

For the 300billion the US spent on the war so far, the US could have bought 2 and 1/2 times the electric output of the world's largest Hydroelectric dam(Itaipu)! in solar panels!! (at $9/w)

We need solar panels on homes in the west and south, wind turbines in the nothern midwest, bio fuel production for jets and big trucks in the midwest and south.
Country! Let's get with the program! (for fossil fuel elimination)

As it was rightfully noticed, hydrogen is not energy source, but rather energy carrier. And extremely lousy one. It has 6 times less energy per volume even then natural gas, along with other numerous disadvantages. Before solution will be found to refuel car with liquid based hydrogen carrier, (such as methanol), fuel cell car is a pipe dream. Situation with electric car is even worth. It will never work for very simple reason: it is physically impossible in two minutes to pump into car battery amount of electricity your home spend in a week. Wires and connector will melt and battery will explode. No matter what fairy tales are told about “fast charge”, for EV-sized battery it is not possible.

Meanwhile hybrid cars offer real and very substantial advantages. Aside from substantial fuel savings, hybrid drivetrain could be tuned for high performance and comfort. Equipped with CV transmission, gasoline direct injection engine working on optimized Atkinson cycle, and in near future running lean mixture with NOx adsorber cat (technology on a brink of commercialization), family sedan with good performance, near zero toxic emissions, and close to 100 mpg fuel efficiency is clearly on the horizon. As a bonus, such hybrid is inherently suitable to plug-in option allowing recharge at night and driving first 40 miles on electricity without performance sacrifice. Fuel also could be quite flexible – propane, mix of ethanol/methanol/gasoline, natural gas, etc.

I do not believe that such global problem as personal transportation could be solved by one ultimate technology. So lets keep all options open.

tonychillings's "crazy christian" comment:Isn't it funny how people can be bigioted as they want to about christians, but is some dares to mention a certain other religion, which is driving the Irian Presindent to seek nuclear amaragedon, as well as create a army of suicide bombers, they get chastised as being a racist, interesting.

And Bush makes a speech promoting all the stuff this sites promotes and you just criticize and complain. That's great.

You hit it right on the nail, Paul. It's rather interesting how leftists have a "damned if he does, damned if he doesn't" policy. If Bush pursues alternative energy, he is wasting time or lying. If he doesn't, he's in Big Oil's pocket.

Stepping off the soapbox, Dubya has the right idea. We are going to have to do something for the inevitable day the oil runs out and at least his proposals are an idea as opposed to those who simply whine and offer no solution.

Are you aware that energy policy has to go through the gauntlet of congress?Your assaults should be upon your representatives.Assault them with them with educational materials.Barrage them with your zeal for green and independent fuel supplies.There is legislation pending{vehicle and fuel choices for American security act.}that is supported by republicans and dems.You can continue barking at the president or you can become part of the process at the local representative{your congressmen and senators.}level.I suggest the latter.


Good point gerald. I have been doing just that. Since they have no idea what I'm talking about, I get back a generic form letter that profusely thanks me for writing but doesn't say why.

One of our solutions for the situation we find ourselves in would be, to not to return a single incumbent next November, but we all know that won't happen.

Another solution would be a constitutional amendment, limiting every politician to one term in office.

That's most likely to happen when Pigs learn to fly.

$31 million annually for the research of battery technology. I certainly wouldn't call that aggressive research.

Mr. Bush, here is a simple, short term fix:

Low range, plug-in (lithium ion or even NiMH) flex fuel hybrids....Period

I would fill up with gas twice a year if this were available.

Bush mentions the $3400 hybrid tax credit. But he fails to mention that this is for only 60,000 vehicles per year per model. Also, he fails to mention that the biggest tax credit for a vehicle is for small business owners and buying a huge SUV.

Someone previously mentioned in another topic, if we double the fuel economy of a toyota prius it certainly helps reduce fuel usage. But if you double the fuel economy of an SUV or convince that person who drives an SUV to drive something the gets double the mileage, you'll reduce fuel usage much more.

Research on hydrogen is fine, but let's quit talking about how it has any relevance to to today's gas prices or much relevance at all for at least twenty years. Bush likes to talk about the future because he doesn't want to do anything about the present. The fact is that vehicles were getting better mileage twenty years ago than they are now. We didn't hear a peep about raising CAFE standards or doing anything else to encourage conservation now.

Notice that we have a bunch of poorly funded programs and that we continue to piss away our heritage and our future on war. Bush has no plans to withdraw troops or do something about our bloated defense budget. Most of the job growth during the Bush years have been the result of defense spending. We only have so much intellectual capital and piss it away on this stupid war and not energy alternatives.

Bush cut the budget for increasing energy efficiency within the government. Good move!

Notice that Bush, and no politician for that matter, will come out and actually set a goal for reduction of oil use and overall energy use. Once you set a goal, then you need to come up with a specific strategy to reach that goal. All this general talk about ethanol and hydrogen will get us nowhere.

In the spirit of nonpartisanship, I will say that the Democrats are not much better in this area. They, like Bush, will only talk about solutions that are seemingly pain free. They rail against high prices, when that's what we need unless we're willing to impose some sort of market based rationing system. Americans won't stand for higher gas taxes or rationing, so they are just going to have to live with high prices wherein most of our dollars go overseas.

Oil will be rationed, one way or another. It will be rationed through the market system, the tax system, or some other system.

Hydrogen is far from pie in the sky. They have made a ton of progress on every area.

Its now only a matter of time.


As for batteries... Bush already talked up batteries last time and the military and various other gov groups have many projects on batteries.

As for the war in iraq... If your clueless enough to think the war was realy about iraq then ya it was a big waste of money to you. If you know why they did it then you understand exactly why it was garanteed to cost alot and worth every penny.

A simple question.. why cant we find bin laden.. answer we already have many times hes worth far more to america alive then dead. for now.

If we need E10 and E85, WHY DON'T WE MANDATE IT?

Problem here seems to be not the current president but how
political parties are sponcored in USA. Both Dems and Reps are fed from the same corporate pocket and that is where music is being ordered. Somehow oil pockets are most deep
once, so I think, this is your answer why Americans are still encouraged to drive SUVs. Somehow I find that both political parties are too much dependant on corporate money flow. While I would agree that corporations are the ones that provide jobs and goods
and money to budget (and lobbies) but still I think there should be sound system that in case of conflict of interests between corporations and american security
should side polititians on later. Its a very tricky to implement as many polititians are shareholders of exactly those corporations (oil ones comes to mind of course due to huge market capitalization) whose interests are not in favour of american security as I view it. Mr. Bush is just a soundspeaker of that system
so there is no surprise for me his talk has no serious actions (accept riding the bike on Earth Day).

So Bush burned 116 tons of JetA and what do we get, a lot of hot air and a country deeper in debt.

The fuel choice bill addresses the suv tax break.It switches the tax incentives to hybrids and alternative fuels vehicles.Even if it seems that your rep ignores your letters,their staff makes note of them especially if they come in large numbers.Ranters and name callers please look up this legislation.You may find that your concerns are finally being heard.

Stop criticizing my hero!!

President Bush seems to be taking steps in the right direction. Being pro-electricity, I think that much more than $31 million (i.e. billions instead of millions) are required to enhance and accellerate the production of low cost cleaner electricity and distribution systems, compact lower cost storage devices and control sub-systems, high rate charging stations and various size high efficiency on-board motors/generators/controllers.

Private industry may eventually do it all without much governmental help but the transition would take much longer. Government incentives have been around for a long time and transistion from oil to alternative cleaner energy sources will certainly need a lot more. The objective fully deserves massive investments.

Improving the current ICE technology may be one of the quickest way to reduce oil consumption. However, in the longer term, PHEVs and EVs will compete favorably and should replace ICE cars and light trucks by 2020+.

Are hydrogen fuel cell powered cars really required? Will the on-board fuel cell become an option to extend the range of PHEVs or to replace the ICE/genset?

If Bush wants a way to promote ethanol and reduce fuel costs, why doesn't he just drop the $.54 a gallon tariff on ethanol? We could be importing from Brazil and other tropical nations for a lot less than the $3.00 a gallon for gasoline that we are paying now.

Its not energy independence but it is a lot better then sending our money to Saudi Arabia.

The only big threat to United States sercurity is OIL!
Look what happened when oil production went down during Katrina?
Congress and the Administration need to get a plan in place to stop fossil fuels from having a strangle hold on us.

The tariff on ethanol would probably be traced to a corn state senator not adolph Bushler.The president could be naive could be wrong but he is not the epitomy of evil represented in the marxist dissertation previous to this post.The game is played between the two parties.They tend to forget to be agents for the good of the nation and instead war agaist each other.We need to play our role in prodding them to come to necessary compromise.neither side has grasped the keys to eternal enlightenment.We can appeal to the enlightened self interest of reps.Clean coal tech appeals to coal states.Ethanol and biodiesel to farm states.Photovoltaic and other high tech answers to high tech states.Lets encourage a basket of American technologies to produce Americas energy giving Americans jobs.Energy security,cleaner energy,and economic opportunity is knocking.We can answer the door together or trample each other to death in our scramble there.

The Honda energy station is going to be availlable in my area later this year.It is a product of hydrogen fuel cell research.It will provide heat and approximately fifty percent of electricity by using waste heat from fuel cell.It reforms hydrogen from the evil fossil fuel natural gas.It is however approximately fifty percent more efficient than current tech being used.It is clean er cheap er but not perfect.In five to ten years I may be able to trade it in for a super efficient solar roof and a turby wind turbine.Then energy would be clean and cheap.Is it worth an intermediate step or two to get to such a desireable end.I think so.

I am material engineer and I work with MIT scientists on new battery technology. All of you must know that fuell cell tech is not the answer and that it will take many [decades] years to even see any serious and commercially viable FC use. And to the contrary to some posters here that mention the lack of relaibility of pure [battery powered] EVs or even Hibryd EV/EV, you must know that very soon a 60 second+/- battery with a 300% increase in power storage capacity will be available to be fitted on highway-legal pure EVs.
We know of a new EV company that is already in the final stages of testing of beautiful {I was on a engineering team that helped them with battery technology] new Evs that will be intorduced to the US market in a year or so.

Bush and his cohorts are not the answer for the future.
Dems might do the exact same [wrong] thing if we Americans don't act upon it and make them change the view and the policy of oil dependency.
Why is not the Green party taking more votes and a stronger share in the political arena if they are the party of environment and future???

The ever biggest problem with this country is that there are ONLY two political parties that pretty much act the same way and that will cripple the US one way or the other.

Fred!!
PhD

> The tariff on ethanol would probably be traced to
> corn state senator not adolph Bushler.

True, although a certain all-hat-no-cattle fake cowboy who didn't manage a veto even when his approval ratings were sky-high may also have something to do with it.

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