L.A. gets state's first hydrogen station

WEST L.A. The Shell gas station on Santa Monica Boulevard is only the second station in the country to have a hydrogen fuel pump in a retail setting.

With gasoline prices continuing to soar, there's a lot of attention on the need to find alternative energy sources, and authorities hope this will help the public learn more about hydrogen, which they say is good for cars and emits nothing harmful to the environment.

In the future, when Californians pull into a service station to fill up, they may be buying hydrogen instead of gasoline.

"This is a beginning and a milestone for all of us on planet Earth," said L.A. City Councilman Bill Rosendahl. "We have to get off of oil."

Rosendahl joined executives from General Motors and Shell for the opening of the first retail hydrogen fueling station in California. The hydrogen pump is right next to the gas pump. Water is separated into hydrogen and oxygen, and the hydrogen is pumped into the fuel-celled vehicles.

"The Chevrolet Equinox fuel-celled vehicle uses no petroleum and the only emissions that comes out of the tail pipe is pure water vapor. It is absolutely safe for the environment. It actually will remove the automobile from the environment and energy debate," said Dave Barthmess from General Motors.

There are only about 200 fuel-celled vehicles in California, most used commercially. GM said by the end of the decade, it will have the technology to mass produce hydrogen-powered vehicles. The challenge for the state and the nation is to create the refueling structure.

"Although the hydrogen itself is a little bit more expensive, the efficiency of the vehicle is much higher, and over time what we seek to do is to bring the cost of all of this down," said Dr. Graeme Sweeney from Shell.

Price is a big question because everyone wants to know what these vehicles cost when they're on the market. The demonstration vehicles would cost hundreds of thousands if they were sold on the market. When they do get to the market, GM said they ho9ep to make it comparable to the price of gasoline-powered vehicles.


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