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Hydrogen Comes to Brentwood

The Shell station in Brentwood is “Ground Zero,† one of the first to provide the infrastructure for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

The future has arrived in Brentwood. It is at the Shell station on Santa Monica Boulevard. Brentwood is Los Angeles’ “Ground Zero†for new automobile fuel technology.

The first public hydrogen refueling station opened on June 26 at 11574 Santa Monica Boulevard. Integrated with conventional gas pumps, it is the first link in the infrastructure chain necessary to move the concept forward toward reality. Dignitaries were on site to applaud Shell for taking the plunge.

Councilman Bill Rosendahl fills up with hydrogen.

“This is truly a great day,†said Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl at the ceremony. “This is a beginning and a milestone for the planet Earth. Shell Oil has committed to the future.â€

The station is the third hydrogen refueling station in the United States Department of Energy’s Hydrogen Vehicle and Infrastructure Demonstration and Validation Project. Additional stations are located in Washington D.C. and White Plains, New York.

The hydrogen fuel cell vehicle is a zero-emission vehicle (ZEV). Made from water, hydrogen is the cleanest of all fuels. Hydrogen is produced on site at the Shell station by the electrolysis of water, using electricity. Compressed hydrogen is stored ready for fueling. The only emissions are in the form of water vapor.

Shell has converted one of the service bays into a visitor center to help educate the public.

“We applaud Shell for their forward-thinking efforts to help advance the hydrogen infrastructure,†said Larry Burns, Ph.D, General Motors vice president, Research & Development and Strategic Planning.

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles aren’t available yet. Still in the test-phase, Chevrolet is trying to educate the public about this promising technology. As part of Chevrolet’s Project Driveway, GM is placing 100 Chevy Equinox Fuel Cell vehicles into the hands of consumers to see what it will take to make such cars our future. The Shell station will be conveniently located for Project Driveway customers who need to refuel.

Jay Leno gives a thumbs up to the new Chevy Equinox hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.

The Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Cell vehicles will be lent to consumers, free of charge, for three-month test drives. The current program in Los Angeles, New York and Washington D.C. includes “regular†consumers who have signed up on Chevrolet’s website, members of the media, public policy leaders, business partners (Virgin Atlantic and Disney, for example) and celebrities.

And while Chevy is taking the lead in testing the new fuel cell vehicle in the market there are also several other options that are part of the equation. Ethanol (E85) is another product available in Brentwood at ConserveFuel on San Vicente and Barrington.

GM has produced more E85 fuel vehicles than any other manufacturer, including an impressive array of SUVs. The “flex-fuel†vehicles can run on either gas or E85, which is a blend of 85 percent gas and 15 percent ethanol. They are cleaner burning and use biomaterial grown in the U.S. Another option is the hybrid vehicle, made famous by the Prius. Chevy has created the first full-sized SUV hybrid, including the Cadillac Escalade Hybrid.

The solution to the fuel problem is coming. Infrastructure is one issue; vehicle technology is another. No one solution is the silver bullet; it will take a combination of elements.

But it’s satisfying to know that some forward-looking corporations are stepping up to meet the challenges.

in News
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