Hydrogen Road Tour stops in Mo. town

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- A fleet of hydrogen-powered vehicles stopped in Missouri to promote the alternative fuel at one of the nation's few fueling stations to power the cars.

The Hydrogen Road Tour stopped in Rolla on Tuesday at the first hydrogen refueling station in the Midwest, one of 31 stops the tour in 18 states, The Kansas City Star reported Wednesday. The U.S. Department of Transportation has been showing vehicles from BMW, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Toyota and others on the tour.

"The whole notion here is to show the American people, the people of Missouri and the people of Rolla that this is reality," said Paul Brubaker, an administrator for the U.S. Department of Transportation. "These cars are real. They're here."

The caravan stopped in Rolla and at the Fort Leonard Wood Army post to highlight the fuel that some say could be an alternative to oil.

The cars had to be trucked in from their previous stop in Tennessee because there are no such fueling stations along the way to service them, Brubaker said. They were also transported out of Missouri to Albuquerque, N.M., where the tour continued Wednesday.

Researchers say the "hydrogen highway" needed to bring the fuel to a filling station near you will cost about $500 billion.

Missouri State University of Science and Technology, through partnerships with the government, the military, Ford Motor Co. and others, runs two hydrogen-powered shuttle buses around campus and between Rolla and Fort Leonard Wood.

"The idea was that we would be a rural test bed," said Mindy Limback, a spokeswoman for the university. "You hear a lot about hydrogen vehicles in California or at airports, but they're not having to deal with the Ozark hills while going 70 miles per hour."

With the buses came a hydrogen filling station, the only one in the Midwest, said Scott Grasman, an associate professor of engineering management and systems engineering.

Brubaker is one of several officials from government, the auto industry and other groups shepherding the cars from Maine to California this month. Supporters say it's a cleaner fuel.

The vehicles on display Tuesday used either a fuel cell, which combines hydrogen with oxygen to produce electricity, or a combustion engine powered by liquid hydrogen. The cars ran quieter than the average four-cylinder but had all the same pedals, displays and knobs and perform about the same.

Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com

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