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Hydrogen fueling station now operating at Hickam

HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii (AFPN) -- State and U.S. Air Force officials gathered here Nov. 2 to unveil Hawaii's and the service's first hydrogen generation and dispensing station.

The event marked the completion of a major achievement in a multi-phased alternative fuel vehicle development program that was launched five years ago.

"From the beginning, this has been a partnership between the state of Hawaii and the Air Force," said William C. Anderson, assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and logistics.

"We've been working together since 2001 to bring this project together and through that effort created the National Demonstration Center for Alternative Fuel," Secretary Anderson said. "The 15th Airlift Wing, the (Air Force Advanced Power Technology Office) and the Hawaii Center for Advanced Transportation Technologies have driven this project forward."

With higher standards for clean air and a need for less dependence on foreign oil, interest in alternate fuels has never been greater.

Increasing energy costs for the Air Force has significantly impacted money that would be better spent on the war on terrorism or recapitalizing the aging fleet.

Hydrogen is one of the key fuels considered for this initiative because it is renewable, abundant and efficient. Unlike other alternates, it produces no emissions.

"It's great to be here today for such an exciting gathering for such an important subject. Our state is located 2,500 miles from anywhere and we are the most oil-dependent state in America," said Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle. "The opening of the United States Air Force's first hydrogen station is a major milestone for Hawaii and for the nation."

The first phase of this project focused on the development of all-electric, battery-powered vehicles and fast charging infrastructure. Phase II initiated the introduction of hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles.

In February 2004, Hawaii's first fuel cell vehicle, a 30-foot shuttle bus powered by batteries and a fuel cell, was introduced. The bus has been operational here for the past two years.

This was followed by two additional fuel cell powered vehicles -- a step van and an MB-4 aircraft tow tractor.

The development and commissioning of the DOD's first deployable on-site hydrogen generation system is a step toward the future for the Air Force, Hawaii, Hickam AFB and the hydrogen economy, according to Mike Mead, chief, Air Force Advanced Power Technology office.

"Today's Air Force is a deployable force, so we must have the technology developed to support the warfighter wherever they are deployed," he said. "The on-site hydrogen generation or fuel system is one of those initiatives we are working on."

In an effort to end this country's dependence on foreign oil, the Air Force is leading the way.

"The hydrogen experiment is all part of developing domestic assured fuels so that the Air Force can do the job every day that you all pay us to do," said Secretary Anderson. "And that job, of course, is to win the global war on terrorism."