Hydrogen fueling station opens in Burlington

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(Host) Leaders in Vermont’s alternative energy industry were in Burlington this morning to celebrate the opening of a fueling station for cars that run on hydrogen.

The demonstration project is the thirteenth such hydrogen fueling station in the country and the first in the northeast.

Backers say hydrogen’s benefits include zero carbon emissions, and an easily available fuel source – water.

John Kassel is the president of e-Vermont, a nonprofit that develops technology for alternative-fuel vehicles:

(Kassel) “It takes water and splits that into its component parts of hydrogen and oxygen. The oxygen is vented into the atmosphere, the hydrogen is stored in a tank. And then we put it into this car, which is a standard Toyota Prius that has been converted to run, to burn hydrogen. And then we drive it.”

(Host) Congressman Bernie Sanders drove up to the hydrogen fuel pump in that Prius.

He says the goal of pilot projects like this one is to curb dependency on fossil fuels:

(Sanders) “It’s not going to happen overnight. But this is an important part of moving forward. The hope is that in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years we’re going to have hundreds of thousands of vehicles running on hydrogen – not on gasoline – and we could begin the process of reversing global warming.”

(Host) Sanders say Vermont’s demonstration project will look at the effect of cold climate on hydrogen-fueled cars.

Backers at today’s celebration agreed that this technology isn’t ready yet for wide consumer use.

The station in Burlington can keep 6 to 8 hydrogen-fueled cars on the road, and currently only one such vehicle exists in Vermont.

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