The recently released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report confirmed that human activity is warming the planet, mainly due to emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Meanwhile, New Mexico regulators plan to adopt clean car standards that require up to 10% of new cars sold in New Mexico to produce zero carbon emissions by 2025.
So it makes sense that hydrogen fuel cells to power trucks and vehicles are gaining attention, especially considering that transportation accounts for around 40% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. United.
Fuel cells offer all the benefits of electric power, including zero tailpipe emissions, and provide extended run times and shorter refueling times, which is preferable for heavy trucks, trains and planes. A few technological challenges have hampered the widespread adoption of this clean energy source, but more than 40 years of research by the Los Alamos National Laboratory and others, with funding from the Department of Energy (DOE) Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office Million Mile Fuel Cell Truck consortium, is on track to resolve them.
For example, one of the barriers to the large-scale adoption of hydrogen fuel cells has been the limited number of service stations – around 50 nationwide. Also, on the technology side, although fuel cell cars are available, they still need improvements in terms of durability for the life required for heavy trucks.
If we can solve this problem, trucks make sense to turn fuel cells into renewable energy for transportation. Collectively, long-haul trucks account for about one-third of greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. As a transition, converting the fleet to run on hydrogen produced from natural gas would reduce these carbon emissions by 40%, and these emissions can be captured and stored permanently underground to reduce emissions. close to zero. Producing hydrogen from renewable energy – the ultimate goal – would also reduce emissions to zero.
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On a practical level, the trucks run on regular routes, simplifying the initial construction of hydrogen gas stations – imagine a chain of them along Interstate 40, to begin with. These stations would also make life easier for motorists, which would help develop the personal transport market.
The technological problem of durability arises from the degradation of the platinum coated membrane in the middle of a fuel cell. To solve this problem, in Los Alamos, we are developing materials to make fuel cells more viable for long distance trucking. This is part of our work as the co-leader of the Million Mile Fuel Cell Truck consortium, which is aligned with the DOE H2 @ Scale vision for clean and affordable hydrogen in multiple sectors of our economy.
New Mexico is in an excellent position to benefit from a hydrogen economy. In the short term, natural gas facilities could be tapped to produce hydrogen, which would save jobs in our energy-producing communities. In the long term, the state’s abundant solar and wind resources can be harnessed to separate hydrogen from non-potable water without negative environmental impact. By making this transition, we can help reverse global warming while creating a strong and sustainable energy sector for the state economy. Nothing less than our future is at stake.