A public-private effort to develop more fuel-efficient automobiles and eventually introduce hydrogen as a transportation fuel is well-planned and identifies all major hurdles the program will face, says a new report from the National Academies National Research Council. Many technical barriers must be overcome and new inventions will be needed, but the program, which was launched three years ago, has already made an excellent start, said the committee that wrote the report.
"The goals of this program are extremely challenging and success is uncertain, but it could have an enormous beneficial impact on energy security and the U.S. economy," said Craig Marks, committee chair and retired vice president for technology and productivity, AlliedSignal Inc., Bloomfield Hills, Mich. "Although it is still too early to speculate whether the program will achieve its long-term vision, it is making significant headway."
The FreedomCAR (Cooperative Automotive Research) and Fuel Partnership, a research collaboration among the U.S. Department of Energy, the Big Three automakers, and five major energy companies, seeks to develop emissions-free and petroleum-free vehicles. The program includes the Presidents Hydrogen Fuel Initiative -- initiated in 2003 to develop technologies for hydrogen production and distribution -- and is a successor to the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles, a collaboration between federal agencies and automakers during the Clinton administration.
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