March 1, 2004

Hydrogen Initiative Report from American Physical Society Panel Released

Major scientific breakthroughs required for the Hydrogen Initiative to succeed, panel finds

The American Physical Society's Panel on Public Affairs (POPA) today released a report that analyzes the Hydrogen Initiative. President Bush proposed the initiative in his 2003 State of the Union Address. The Hydrogen Initiative envisions the competitive use of hydrogen fuel and a hydrogen-fueled car by the year 2020.

The POPA report concluded that major scientific breakthroughs are required for the Initiative to succeed. The most promising hydrogen-engine technologies require factors of 10 to 100 improvements in cost or performance in order to be competitive. Current production methods are four times more expensive than gasoline. And, no material exists to construct a hydrogen fuel tank that meets the consumer benchmarks. A new material must be discovered.

These are very large performance gaps. Incremental improvements to existing technologies are not sufficient to close all the gaps. Significant scientific breakthroughs are needed. According to Peter Eisenberger, chairman of the committee that drafted the report, "Hydrogen storage is a potential show stopper."

The panel made several recommendations to make success more likely. It also urged that Congress take particular steps to hedge against the possibility that the significant technology hurdles for the Initiative will not be met within the proposed 2020 timeline.

Peter Eisenberger, will be testifying before the House Science Committee on Wednesday, March 3 at 2:00 pm EST.

The full report is on the APS website

About APS

The American Physical Society is a non-profit membership organization working to advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics through its outstanding research journals, scientific meetings, and education, outreach, advocacy, and international activities. APS represents over 53,000 members, including physicists in academia, national laboratories, and industry in the United States and throughout the world. Society offices are located in College Park, MD (Headquarters), Ridge, NY, and Washington, D.C.