The people of Detroit have helped make internal combustion engines that, unfortunately, have helped give crude oil enough value to form monopolies that influence bad legislation and poison free market economics. General Motors, the company created and produced the Corvette that debuted in 1992, has more fuel cell patents than any other company in the world. GM claims their first production fuel cell vehicle will arrive around the year 2020. GM and Ford will soon start to make FCEVs here in Michigan to compete with those from Japan and Korea. We can help make a big impact on improving America’s economy by reducing the need for crude oil and help fix an economic problem that we unwittingly helped create with the internal combustion engine. We the people should lobby for public H2 fueling stations to start a friendly competition with other states like California to see who can build a better grid faster.
Detroit should have high regard for the small block V8 engines it has designed and produced over the years as well as many other four and six cylinder engines. Cars like Corvettes and Ford Mustangs have been fun to drive with their sweet sounding engines and the exhilaration of running the shifter through the gears. We’ve had advanced engineering come out of Detroit that we should be very proud of and we are. These internal combustion engines, however, should start to make their way into the halls of our automotive museums. We can still build cars that are a lot of fun and utility to drive without internal combustion engines. The age of electrification is here and it makes more economic sense to stop burning fuels and start using electrolysis and pyrolysis to make hydrogen to power our vehicles. We need to start a conversation with the API about their transition plan for the benefit of the workers in their industry.
The conversation needs to be started about the responsible migration away from the use of crude oil; a migration that looks out for the American worker, the American taxpayer, and America’s retirees. I tweeted to Linda Rozett, the director of communications for the API (@lrozett), the following: “fossil fuels won’t last forever. What’s the API’s plan for a responsible migration toward a post hydrocarbon society?” When I thought that she didn’t reply to the tweet after a couple days I didn’t think much of it. But, when I went to look back at her twitter account I noticed that she had responded in a manner of sorts. She went through a process to remove me as a follower rather than address the question. The API has spent untold amounts of money to create EID and pay for the TV commercials referenced above as part of what they call an education and public outreach program. Instead of reaching out to the public, however, Linda just avoided her responsibility to the public. Her actions belie the rhetoric published by her organization. People like myself and many other Americans have simple and straight forward questions about natural resources owned by the public. These questions are based on science, evidence, and facts like those cited throughout this post. I would like to think we could have an open dialogue where questions like mine are addressed and talked about in a civil manner. No American wants to see any other American that wants to work out of a job. RMP only seeks to start a dialogue about how we can responsibly move our country away from an energy source [crude oil] that is unsustainable in the coming decades.
As Detroiters, we gave crude value with the internal combustion engines we made famous. Now it is time to retire the internal combustion engine and it will be tough to close such a storied chapter of our history. Significant challenges remain in order to graduate from the hydrocarbon economy to the hydrogen economy. Storage solutions for hydrogen are complex but are getting better with each manufactured iteration. Building fueling stations costs real money, but these investments have a high rate of return like Eisenhower’s investment in building the Interstate Highway System. Any money spent to incentivize adoption of FCEVs and the Hydrogen Economy pays greater dividends to US taxpayers than investing in crude oil. Moving from the internal combustion engine to Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs) will be a major progression in America’s great history and a great paradigm shift in our domestic economy and the world economy. Detroit can still make world class automobiles that compete with Japanese, Korean, and German made vehicles. We can make world class cars that perform on race tracks and climb rugged terrain.
In 1961, in his Internal Combustion class at Purdue University, my dad’s teacher, Professor Kromer, lectured about fuel cells. In 1961 fuel cells probably seemed like a pipe dream in the halls of Purdue University. In the late 1970’s my dad took me to the Detroit Auto Show before there was any glitz & glamour in Cobo Hall. The Auto Show was just a bunch of folding card tables with pamphlets on them, some carpet remnants covering the Cobo floor, and cars parked throughout the building. In a back corner display against a wall was a Honda fuel cell exhibit. My dad took time to teach me about how Honda was one of the most advanced fuel cell developers in the world in the late 1970’s. He explained to me how fuel cells worked and how one day they might become mass produced. Now in 2015, at the North American International Auto Show, which is now such a gala event, Honda unveiled an FCV concept that looks more geared toward real mass manufacturing than anything we’ve ever seen before. Today, Toyota Motor Company is releasing video after video of their Mirai fuel cell vehicle assembly plant in Japan as they gear up for mass production of fuel cell electric vehicles. Toyota is investing millions of dollars into fueling stations in Japan & California. Toyota recently even gave away all of its fuel cell patents to help kickstart the Hydrogen Economy in America. Let’s hope Michigan steps up its participation in this exciting transition.
In the 54 years since Professor Kromer spoke about fuel cell technology in that Purdue classroom in 1961, we have reached a turning point in the practical application of the hydrogen economy. Advances in solar panels and the capture of energy from the sun have made the hydrogen fuel cell economy a viable solution for 100% of the world’s energy needs. Crude oil can be phased out of our economy responsibly with greater benefits to America and the World.
The United States can reduce conflict throughout the world and still maintain the world’s best military. It can be done without crude oil and its dead end future. The United States can create sustainable jobs and a sustainable energy infrastructure. The time has come to start the conversation about the responsible migration away from crude oil to power our vehicles. All the money in the world cannot stop an idea who’s time has come.