APS News

May 2004 (Volume 13, Number 5)

APS Hydrogen Report Attracts the Media

By Ernie Tretkoff

Peter Eisenberger
Photo Credit: Joe Pouliot
Peter Eisenberger (at table on right) of Columbia University, chair of the committee that produced the APS report on the hydrogen economy, testifies on March 3 before the House Science Committee. Next to him at the table is Michael P. Ramage, ExxonMobil Research Corporation (retired), who chaired the National Academies’ study. Also testifying at the hearing, at left, is David Garman, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable  Energy at DOE.
A variety of media outlets have covered the APS Panel on Public Affairs' report on President Bush's billion-dollar Hydrogen Initiative. The report called for more funding for basic research and concluded that major scientific breakthroughs are needed to make hydrogen-powered vehicles competitive [see APS News, April 2004]. 

On March 1, which was the day of the report's release, National Public Radio aired a story in which Peter Eisenberger of Columbia University, chairman of the report committee, described the main points. He said that "the overview should be that currently we have really no production capability, we have no material that can store it and we have no infrastructure to deliver the hydrogen to a broad market."

The Associated Press, United Press International, and The Washington Times have also carried articles about the POPA report. In addition, a story on hydrogen fuel in The Dallas Morning News mentioned the report. Several specialized publications, including Greenwire, Space Daily, Inside Energy, The Electricity Daily, and Environment and Energy Daily, and a Sierra Club newsletter, covered the report as well.

In response to the POPA report and a similar report by the National Academy of Sciences, the House Science Committee called a hearing, at which Eisenberger and other experts testified that the Hydrogen Initiative is overly ambitious and short on funding for basic science. David Garman, DOE assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy, defended President Bush's proposed budget, saying it provides adequate funding for basic research. Eisenberger later also briefed two Senate caucuses about the report.

The hydrogen economy was also the subject of a press conference and several sessions at the March Meeting. At the press conference, APS Director of Public Affairs Michael Lubell summarized the POPA report, and MIT Professor Mildred Dresselhaus, former president of the APS and a former Director of the DOE Office of Science, spoke about a similar report produced by a workshop that she chaired under the auspices of the DOE Office of Basic Energy Sciences [see APS News, Nov. 2003].

The Hydrogen Economy on the Web: 3 reports, & slides from 5 talks

Three reports on the hydrogen economy have been issued, by the Department of Energy's Office of Basic Energy Science (http://www.sc.doe.gov/bes/hydrogen.pdf), by the National Research Council (http://www.nap.edu/catalog/10922.html) and by the APS Panel on Public Affairs (http://www.aps.org/public_affairs/index.cfm). All three conclude that significant basic research is needed to overcome the technical barriers to a competitive hydrogen economy. The APS sponsored a plenary symposium at the March meeting with five speakers from academia and industry. View the slide presentations

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Editor: Alan Chodos
Associate Editor: Jennifer Ouellette

May 2004 (Volume 13, Number 5)

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Articles in this Issue
Global Representatives Gather To Plan World Year of Physics
AFM Study shows old Cells Lose Their Elasticity
APS Hydrogen Report Attracts the Media
Women Physicists Learn Survival Skills in Montréal
"Smart" Drugs Target Cancer Cells
Cold Gases, Hot Topic
New Nanodevices Target a Host of Potential Applications
Plasma Physics and Laser Science Offer Distinguished Lecturer Programs
Forum on Education Launches Two Initiatives
Brain Synchronization Can Give You A Headache
Nanofoam Exhibits Surprising Magnetic Properties
The Back Page
Members in the Media
This Month in Physics History
Zero Gravity: The Lighter Side of Science