Coal and oil have been at the forefront of energy production for decades. Natural gas has become increasingly popular lately as well, and nuclear power is still in use, but very cautiously. In addition to these finite fossil fuels, there are many other energy sources to be tapped into. On the renewable end of the spectrum, wind, solar, and hydroelectric power are well known and quite popular. But as of last month, the United States Department of Energy was given the green light to continue research on hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, and to make them commercially available as soon as possible.
The United States is looking to be a leader in clean energy, and the Department of Energy has partnered with private industries and universities to ensure that the transportation sector has a clean, viable energy future. By moving ahead with these technologies, we as a nation can drastically reduce our dependence on oil to power our vehicles. Thanks to this partnership, scientists have reduced the costs and improved the efficiency of hydrogen and fuel cell systems, bringing us one step closer to their mainstream implementation. In fact, this research has reduced the costs by 50% since 2006. In addition, fuel cell durability has doubled, and the amount of platinum required to construct these cells has dropped 80% since 2005.
Combined with the grants provided last month, this cost reduction and efficiency growth is expected to continue. Infrastructure for refineries and supply lines will increase along with the efficiency of the technologies and the United States will march on to a more reliable, cleaner source of energy. The Department of Energy looks to use this money to invest in several companies in order to advance the progress of hydrogen and fuel cell technology.
The Center for Transportation and the Environment in Atlanta, GA was granted $3 million from the DoE, and they will be developing a hybrid fuel cell and electric delivery vehicle featuring a 150 mile range. They will refit 15 UPS trucks and test them with distribution centers in California. FedEx was granted $3 million to develop 20 hydrogen fuel cell trucks with a 150 mile range to test in Tennessee and California. Air Products and Chemicals, Inc of Allentown, PA was granted $900,000 to develop cost effective trailer transports for hydrogen delivery and storage. Finally, Sprint was granted $250,000 to develop fuel cell powered backup systems for their telecommunications equipment. This project is aiming to demonstrate the adaptability of these systems.
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