From Hindenburg to Honda

When Arnold Schwarzenegger talks about the hydrogen highway, it’s not that he’s still having trouble with English. Well, maybe it’s that. But the main point is a general enthusiasm, shared by pundits of various stripes, for continued investment in automobiles powered by hydrogen cells. Trusted as a reliable fuel source by such familiar authorities as Ford, Honda and the sun, hydrogen is, second only to political rhetoric, the most abundant of the universe’s many bloated gasses. Potentially, it’s a good resource that way.

Among the element’s chief propagandists is the California Fuel Cell Partnership, which invites you to its headquarters at 3300 Industrial Boulevard this Friday for a free demonstration from 1 to 3 p.m. Ride in a hydrogen-powered car! Tour a hydrogen fueling station! Learn exactly how the proton exchange membrane works! OK, it’s not exactly like riding in an Apollo rocket to the moon, but it is certainly quieter, safer and more comfortable.

You may be concerned. You may recall the incident with the Hindenberg. Well, look, technically hydrogen has been found at the scene of every one of history’s catastrophic explosions. But that’s because it’s pretty much omnipresent, and as a matter of fact that particular mishap had nothing to do with its use as a fuel. But if it makes you feel better, yes, it is still utterly moronic to light a cigarette while refueling your hydrogen-powered car.

Also, it’s still about four times as expensive to make as gasoline, and making it does require some pollution. But the exhaust from hydrogen-powered cars rather graciously consists of nothing more than warm water vapor, and unlike those of oil or gasoline, hydrogen spills tend to clean themselves up. Other benefits: Its acquisition needn’t necessitate intercontinental warfare. Not yet, anyway. Visit or call (916) 371-2870 for more information.