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Secretary of Energy Appoints Hydrogen Technical Advisory Committee

Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman has announced the members of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) new Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technical Advisory Committee (HTAC).

The HTAC includes representatives of domestic industry, academia, professional societies, government agencies, financial organizations and environmental groups, as well as experts in the area of hydrogen safety.

Formed in accordance with the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT), HTAC will advise the Secretary on issues related to the development of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. Committee members were selected from more than 100 nominees submitted in response to a Federal Register Notice. HTAC will give recommendations to the Secretary regarding DOE’s programs, plans, and activities, as well as safety, economic, and environmental issues related to hydrogen.

Under the Advanced Energy Initiative announced by President Bush, the FY 2007 budget requests $215 million for hydrogen research and development, a 55% increase from 2006.

Following EPACT 2005 guidelines, DOE will deliver a biennial report to Congress describing committee recommendations, how DOE will implement those recommendations, as well as a rationale for recommendations that might not be implemented.

HTAC members will elect a chairperson at their first meeting to be held in the coming months and will meet approximately twice per year. Meetings will be announced in the Federal Register.

Membership of
Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technical Advisory Committee
Larry Bawden Jadoo Power Systems President and CEO
John Bressland U. S. Chemical Safety Board Board Member
Mark Chernoby DaimlerChrysler Corp. V.P., Advanced Vehicle Engineering
Uma Chowdhry DuPont Director of Engineering Technology
Millie Dresselhaus MIT Professor
David Friedman Union of Concerned Scientists Research Director Clean Vehicles
John Hofmeister Shell Oil Company President & U.S. Country Chair
Art Katsaros Air Products & Chemicals Inc. Group V.P., Development & Technology
Dan Keuter Entergy Nuclear Vice President
Alan Lloyd California EPA (retired) Former Secretary of California EPA
Byron McCormick General Motors Executive Director of Fuel Cell Activities
Mike Mudd FutureGen Alliance Chief Executive Officer
Rand Napoli Florida State Fire Marshal Director
Ian Purtle Cargill, Inc. Corp. V.P. & Director of Process Solutions
Michael Ramage ExxonMobil Executive Advisor
James Reinsch Bechtel Power Senior Vice President
Gerry Richmond University of Oregon Noyes Professor of Chemistry
Roger Saillant Plug Power President & CEO
Robert Shaw Arete Corporation President
Kathleen Taylor General Motors (retired) Director of Materials & Processes Lab
Jan van Dokkum UTC Power President
J. Craig Venter J. Craig Venter Institute Founder and President
Gregory Vesey ChevronTechnology Ventures President
Robert Walker Wexler & Walker Public Policy Associates Chairman
John Wootten Peabody Energy (retired) V.P. of Environment and Technology



Membership looks heavy in industry, light in academia. May get slanted towards vested interests.

Ron Fischer

The economic trash can called 'hydrogen' remains open for business. Many problems requiring breakthroughs in basic science, and no solutions amenable to mass-production. Stop kicking this dead horse and let the market decide.


You sound exactly like the tobacco execs chanting there is no cancer... grow up.

An Engineer

This would be comical if it wasn't as serious. Hydrogen is a CARRIER FUEL, not a PRIMARY FUEL. There is a world of difference between PRIMARY FUELS and CARRIER FUELS. Primary fuels are the basic starting materials for the energy business. Crude oil, coal and natural gas are examples of PRIMARY FUELS. Carrier fuels are just ways of delivering the energy to the consumer. Electricity is an important CARRIER FUEL. For the sake of this discussion, it would be meaningful to differentiate between oil (primary fuel) and gasoline (carrier fuel).

Right now, it seems like all the discussion is about the CARRIER FUELS: Ethanol and gasoline, diesel and biodiesel, HYDROGEN, butanol, etc. In reality, the CARRIER FUEL does not really matter. For example, many people seem convinced that eventually we will make the shift to renewable hydrogen - living happily ever after in the land of perpetual motion and no pollution. The fact of the matter is that 90% of today's hydrogen comes from non-renewable sources.

Likewise, in most people's minds, gasoline is just another word for refined crude oil. But it is possible to convert renewable feedstocks into gasoline, using biomass-to-liquid (BTL) technology. The German company Choren ( is a good example of that.

The debate about the best CARRIER FUEL is of some importance, but to break the addiction to crude, you need an alternative PRIMARY FUEL, regardless of what CARRIER FUEL you end up using. It should be obvious that neither ethanol nor hydrogen is a replacement for crude, since you cannot replace a PRIMARY FUEL with a CARRIER FUEL. The bottom line is this: what is the best PRIMARY FUEL to replace crude?

It should be obvious that FOOD is a terrible PRIMARY FUEL. Would you burn popcorn to keep your house warm? Of course not. There are cheaper and better fuels for warming the house than popcorn, in spite of the fact that popcorn is renewable, locally produced, etc. etc.

The ideal PRIMARY FUEL would be cheap, plentiful and locally available. Call me unimaginative, but I can think of no better PRIMARY FUEL than waste: widely available, cheap (sometimes you can get paid for accepting it) and, in large part, renewable (40% of US landfill waste is PAPER).

How much waste do we have? According to DOE and USDA, we have enough to replace a third of our petroleum use ( So here we are, getting excited about the "promise" of replacing 1% of our oil use with food (corn ethanol) when we could be doing 33% with a feedstock that is essentially FREE.

What about the other two-thirds? If it depends on the market, we are stuck with fossil fuels for the foreseeable future. Beyond that, we need an energy crop. Now, the ideal energy crop would be something that grows fast, requires little maintenance/labor and can be harvested mechanically. It should also not require more land than there is available.

The answer, I believe, is ALGAE. Research by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (part of DOE) showed that one could produce about 625 barrels per day of biodiesel on one square mile of pond in the southwestern US ( Since biodiesel has roughly the same energy content per gallon as crude oil, 32,000 square miles (about the size of the state of South Carolina) of ponds could produce all the crude oil the US currently consumes. While that is a lot of land, it is less than 5% than the total US cropland. Difficult, but possible.

Now, again, that research was geared towards a specific CARRIER FUEL (biodiesel). The result from the research does not have to be limited to biodiesel, though. Using BTL technology, the algae can be converted to pretty much the exact same gasoline (and diesel) we are using today. The benefits of doing that is obvious: no need to replace the entire fleet of existing vehicles. No need to replace/supplement the fuel supply system. Just a quiet conversion than nobody would even notice.

Lastly, I want to point out that I am not saying that gasoline (and diesel) will remain the CARRIER FUEL of choice forever. But the challenger should be able to beat the reigning champion without outside help, in the ring known as the marketplace. The internal combustion engine did not need government help to replace the horse: it replaced the horse because it was a better technology. In much the same way the CARRIER FUEL of the future should be able to prove itself superior, without being forced down anyone's throat.


An Engineer:
You did not include solar, wind, or wave energy as the primary fuels and electricity as carrier fuel. I would think with development of electricity storage or use of one of the other carrier fuels, these might contribute some portion of the other 2/3s.

An Engineer

Yes, it is quite possible that electricity would make up a part of the remaining 2/3rds. PHEVs is one way to test the waters in that direction. My main concern with large scale solar, wind and wave would be the fact that you cannot easily match demand peaks with production peaks. Hence the requirement for large storage facilities.

The advantage of BTL from waste (WTL anyone?) over wind/solar/wave would be:
1. A fuel that can be stored relatively cheaply until it is needed.
2. The environmental benefits of recycling the intrinsic energy from the waste.
3. The environmental benefits of taking waste and converting it to non-polluting products.
4. The potential to take biohazardous waste (such as medical waste, sewage sludge) and producing sterile products.
5. Potential to recover fertilizer from the wastes in a form that is not hazardous to handle, unlike for example sewage sludge.


Wrong. There will be no one or even 10 primary fuel/s in the future. There will be thousands.

Amoung these are solar wind wave nuke plant oils of a great many types both natural and gm mutant general biomatter of a great many types again both natural and not coal, tar, shale, sweaty fat white men jumping on trampoleens blah blah blah blah.

H2 is such a big deal and so pushed because it does one thing few other fuels can do. It takes out all the customer side issues of pollution and fuel eff. Only the place that makes the fuel will matter.

And while it may not always be easy to make it cheap it will always be easy to make ANYWHERE.

Rafael Seidl

For reference:

$215 million is what the US spends in Iraq in a day, maybe two.

An Engineer

Mark my words H2 is going nowhere. Fifty years from now (like fifty years ago) scientists will still be predicting that widespread hydrogen use is "at least twenty years" away. Some things never change.

Don't take my word for it. See

Also note that RENEWABLE hydrocarbons (that is gasoline and diesel produced from renewable sources, such as BTL) solves the bulk of the "sustomer side" issues you are so concerned about.

You also need to understand that as a CARRIER FUEL, hydrogen cannot replace crude, coal or other PRIMARY FUELS. Hydrogen can only replace other CARRIER FUELS.

But hydrogen is not a good CARRIER FUEL. Period. The reasons are legion. See the above references for that.

tom deplume

The zinc-air system has all the advantages that hydrogen claims to have plus none of the storage problems. Its biggest disadvantage is that it can't be extracted from fossil fuels. The committee has people from 3 oil companies and 1 coal company.

An Engineer

More hydrohen FACTS for Wintermane: "There are also safety issues: an electrical storm several miles away can ignite hydrogen, as can a slight charge from a cell phone."

Let me just say, I am staying away from any hydrogen vehicle for now...

An Engineer

Sorry, Wintermane, I should include the reference for that quote:

allen zheng

Direct high efficiency solar for peak electrical energy. Nuke, hydro (current, tide, wave, etc), multi-gigawatt high efficiecy (~60-80%+) biomass fueled powerplants for base loads. Wind when available.

Not An Engineer

An Engineer...LOL! You are a joke man. Gasoline is refined man...they don't pump the stuff out of an oil well. It's produced. It's not a primary energy carrier. Worse yet...with today's dirtier and dirtier crude need more and more hydrogen in the refining process to produce gasoline. So that really makes gasoline sort of a tertiary fuel as it requires massive amounts of hydrogen. The hydrogen currently produced just for oil refining is sufficient to fuel over 100 million fuel cell vehicles and the hydrogen being used in refining is moving towards doubling in the next few years with the shift dirtier crudes.


An Engineer:

Hydrogen economy (and, BTW, global warming) already become kind of religious movement, rootlessly guided and lobbied. It zealots are far beyond scientific discussion or even common sense reasoning. Do not expect much understanding here.

Waste-to-energy is very tricky business. Municipal waste is impossible to use directly because it consisted from very different substances. Amount of paper and useful components in it is dropping year after year due to recycling at source and separation – indeed huge and mostly invisible industry. Whatever is separated, is way more valuable raw material for manufacturing, not for energy production. The rest of organics undergo anaerobic digestion in capped landfills, and biogas is captured and used for energy generation. No place for economical fuel production here.

BTW, if looked closely, all current and planned for near future biofuel production is kind of waste-to-fuel. Obvious sources include cooking grease, agricultural residues, wastes of pulp&paper and forestry industry; but grain, corn, sugar cane, rapeseed, etc., used in production of biofueals, are surplus of chronic overproduction, and hence are wastes too.


Hydrogen economy: because there's a sucker born every minute.

Rafael Seidl

Hydrogen is most easily transported and stored when it is attached to chains of carbon atoms. The trick is figuring out how to recycle those carbon atoms without braking the bank.

As for the hype about the hydrogen highway et al.: you can fool some of the people all of the time. And those are the ones you want.


Oh realy? They why are they ahead of schedual on ALL aspects of the h2 goals? Every single one is ahead of schedual some are already DONE.

There are only 4 things that matter.

1 Can you make enough.

2 Can you move enough.

3 Can you make it cheap enough.

4 Can you cram enough onto the vehicle.

1 Yes
2 yes
3 far ahead of plans ALREADY h2 production is cheaper then gas in some places.
4 With plug in hybrid h2 cars.. yes. With others.. varies a totaly h2 fueled ice car sure cant store enough yet cheaply.

Oh and on the issue of bio fuels.. they still pollute they still requite emmissions control equaipment on the car and that can still get messed up and needs to be monitored anfd repaired..

As for explosion danger.. they already tested it and h2 is already safer then gasoline and getting safer.

When I want to know how solar is doing.. I dont go to the sites that hate solar and I dont listen to the people who want solar to fail. Whe I want to know how nuke is doing again I dont go to such sites.

H2 is doing fine and its backed by a huge number of powerful people and a zillion bucks.

Do I love h2... why? its a freaking molecule for crying out loud! Who givea a flying ardvarrk? What I care about is alot of very useful prgress is being made and no matter if it all works out or not its VERY good for the future. I dont actauly give a rats ass if it becomee uber fuel or not it will be rather damn handy and cool. The futue might be a little less farty cars and a bit more whirrrr cars... THAT I care about.


The molecule you need is C17H19ClN2S•HCl


I dont give a rats ass if its virgin blood as long as I can afford it and my car is nice and the world doesnt go the heck in a handbag I realy dont give a damn.

An Engineer

Wintermane, I think you just proved what was said about hydrogen proponents - our sympathies.

Not an engineer, tell you what, read my posts. then respond.

Audrey, I believe you are wrong about the paper. Paper takes up forty percent and is growing. A year's worth of the New York Times weighs fifty pounds and takes a volume equal to about fifty thousand Big Mac containers. Landfills are stuffed with paper used to package goods - which has grown by a third since 1960 - and also paper plates, junk mail, and computer paper, which have all doubled over the decades. - No doubt recycling is increasing, but I don't think it is keeping up. So much for the paperless office.

Biogas from landfill is a good idea, but it is not used everywhere. The problem with that is also that you cannot control the rate of degradation - it may continue for 20 years or more. Much better to put it through a plant where you can control things. Also note a gasification process yields sterile byproducts, a major benefit for some waste materials.

I also think you are wrong about the biodiesel plants. Most of those I read about on GCC are going to use virgin plant oils. Another food-to-oil boondoggle.


Here is a simple fact. Gasoline didnt win because it was cheap it also didnt win because it was safe and it sure didnt win because it was easy. It won because alot of rich people forced it to.

The safe system is in force today. The rich are backing h2 and bio. And yes they have the power to force it to work.

Roger Pham

Way to go, wintermane.
I used to be a devout of the anti-hydrogen faith...I used to lash out at any suggestion of the "hydrogen economy." But I kept informed of progress...and...Lo and Behold...One day I saw the Light! and Halleluah! It looks promising that someday Hydrogen can be produced at the equivalent gasoline at $2.50/gallon...from many sources...and especially from GE..."GE, we bring good things to life" you know...When GE talks, I listen...GE has great record as an environmental innovator, with highly efficient power generating turbines, state-of-the-art huge wind turbines...And then, it turns out that hybrid ICE-electric car can utilize H2 and methane almost as efficient as the super-expensive fuel cell can use H2 to heat up your house same as natural generate electrical power same as natural gas...that hybrid ICE-electric car can be a bridge between the fossil fuel economy to the future hydrogen and methane economy...
Don't y'all get excited learning about all these exciting stuffs? A clean energy future, free of cancer-causing and global warming fossil fuels...Forever renewable til the end of time...


Yup when bush pushed alot of stuff changed rapidly. In 1 year the cost of making h2 from methane a renwable gas went down 40%. The ability to make h2 from various low weight hydrocarbons has greatly improved. The ability to make it directly from electricity has also improved as they have found catalysts to boost the process.

Now yes in 150 years or so battery power alone will do the job. But not now. Most batteries cant take more then a 20-25% discharge without shortenting thier working life greatly and that means even todays uber batteries have a real operational range of 40 miles. They tout long range.. but jide how you pay for it they tout fast recharge but again hide the downsides. It simply isnt there yet and wont be for awhile.


I don't know about using hydrogen in your home like natural gas. It is my understanding that it is very difficult to contain and pump hydrogen in existing pipes. The hydrogen leaks and the pumps are much less effective. Also, the hydrogen makes the pipe material brittle and prone to breaking.

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