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Under the hood of the Toyota fuel cell vehicle.

Diverse transportation infrastructure to include electric and hydrogen vehicles

The Chevy Volt and Toyota Prius Plug-in are examples of hybrid electric cars that bring practicality to the table. With their ability to run on electricity and gasoline, they have combined the innovation of the electric car with the advantage of being able to fill up at a gas station. Basically, they give you the ability to drive an electric vehicle without the fear of becoming stranded when you run out of power, a.k.a., range anxiety. The problem with the electric car is the lack of an electric-car charging infrastructure. Even Rolls Royce has an all-electric concept version of its Phantom luxury sedan, but said they don't plan on mass-producing the eco-friendly model at this time because, due to the lacking infrastructure, the cars cannot be driven a sufficient number of miles. The bottom line here is that there just aren't enough charging stations within most cities to support the industry. However, Nevada is seeking to change that. The Nevada Electric Highway is an initiative that was launched in 2015 by Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, NV Energy President and CEO Paul Caudill, and the Governor’s Office of Energy. This initiative seeks to add charging stations along the U.S. Route 95 between Reno and Las Vegas. Their goal is to integrate both Level 2 chargers as well as Direct Current (DC) fast charging options. In addition to the growing infrastructure, the average range for an electric vehicle has increased in the last few years from an average of 60 miles per charge to over 100 miles and still within an affordable price range. Both Chevy and Volkswagen will feature ranges of 200+ miles in the near future and Tesla has already unveiled a 315 mile battery. And while great progress is being made within the electric vehicle market, there is yet another option for eco-friendly driving.

In addition to electric vehicles, hydrogen holds the potential to positively revolutionize the transportation industry. It can be used as a fuel to power either a traditional, internal combustion engine or an electric motor via a hydrogen fuel cell. Hydrogen can be created through a process called electrolysis, which takes water and turns it into hydrogen and oxygen. The electrolysis process can be entirely powered by renewable energy, making the production of hydrogen fuel environmentally friendly all the way around. There is just one problem, and that is storage. The good news is that there is an answer to that problem, and that answer is carbon. Carbon, which could present itself in the form of either a lump of coal or a sparkly diamond, can also take the shape of another material called graphene. Within the last few years, significant advancements have been made with graphene which allow the storage of hydrogen to be exponentially increased within the same size container. This means that the use of carbon can allow more hydrogen to be stored per cubic foot. Current hydrogen-fuel cell vehicles include the Hyundai Tucson and the Toyota Mirai. Integrating these vehicles into the transportation mix more aggressively would require the need to build the fueling infrastructure in advance and a highly skilled and qualified workforce to handle it.