Roger Cooper Hydrogen-powered car article from the Washington Post

I was reading the Washington Post earlier this week and came across this article by Curt Suplee titled, “Don’t bet on a hydrogen car anytime soon.” I sent Curt a message and thought I’d share those same thoughts here to spark some discussion. My message appears below.

Dear Mr. Suplee,

I just read your November 17 piece in the Washington Post on the problems with a hydrogen-powered car. I can’t disagree that this technology still has a long way to go and may end up being a tailpipe dream. But as someone who clearly approaches these issues with a rational scientific perspective I thought you might be interested in another technology that has been developed to strip hydrogen from natural gas without generating the “copious emissions of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide” associated with the traditional steam reformation technology.

It is a technology developed by a Canadian company, Atlantic Hydrogen, that uses a plasma-arc process to drop carbon out of the natural gas stream as a solid. Earlier this year I visited their facility to look at a demonstration project and came away impressed.

The company’s focus is not on producing pure hydrogen for hydrogen fuel cells but on enhancing the hydrogen content  of natural gas stream to produce a natural gas product (Hydrogen Enriched Natural Gas – HENG) with lower CO2 and NOx emissions. The process itself produces hydrogen without producing CO2 emissions. Here is their website, which includes a paper describing the process and an interesting video.

For the record, they are not a full member of the American Gas Association and neither the association not I have a financial interest in their business.

Also I would like to thank you for addressing the issue of energy loss from energy conversion. That is something that is rarely addressed in the media and can be a source of frustration when discussing energy efficiency issues. At AGA we have been trying to get recognition of this issue because it tends to favor use of natural gas appliances.

While the norm is to look at appliance efficiency and ignore all upstream energy conversion losses, recently the National Research Council of the National Academies of Science studied the issue and recommended that the Department of Energy move to measuring appliance energy efficiency on a full fuel cycle basis.

Attached is their recommendation along with slides we use to illustrate the issue and a joint statement we recently entered into with the Natural Resources Defense Council supporting full fuel cycle energy efficiency measurement.

Thanks again for your thoughtful article.

Roger Cooper

About Roger Cooper

Roger Cooper is Executive Vice President for Policy and Planning of the American Gas Association, which represents 200 local energy utility companies that deliver natural gas to more than 64 million homes, businesses and industries throughout the United States. AGA’s primary roles are to advocate the interests of its natural gas utility members and their customers and to provide information and services promoting operational excellence in the safe, reliable and cost-competitive delivery of natural gas. Roger has previously served at AGA as Acting President; Senior Vice President for Government Relations; Group Vice President for Government Relations and Policy Analysis; and as Deputy General Counsel. Prior to joining AGA in 1986, Roger was in private practice where he represented a number of local gas distribution companies. He holds a J.D. with high honors from Georgetown University Law Center, an M.A. from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and a B.A. from Hiram College. He is a frequent speaker on energy and natural gas issues.
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