Hydrogen vehicles get a second look

I remember hearing about a company in Utah which produces components for running cars on bottled hydrogen as an auxiliary to the gasoline engine. What is its name? R. Jablonski Baltimore

I can't find the name of any company which now produces components for running cars on hydrogen. However, such a conversion kit may be on the market in a year or tow. You can convert to LP gas, of course, and some fleet vehicles , such as the run by utilities, already have made the switch.

The company to which you refer is Billings Energy Corporation which has moved from Provo, Utah, to Independence, Mo.

Billings is perhaps the only company which is devoted exclusively to hydrogen r&d. It now is working with PSA Peugeot-citroen, the big French carmaker, and a conversion kit could result.

Many automakers, among them Daimler-Benz (Mercedes), Renault, and the Japanese, are exploring hydrogen gas for running motor vehicles.

"We've converted a number of US- built cars to hydrogen for research purposes ," according to a spokesman for Billings, including a Cadillac, Pontiac, and Dodge Omni. "But we've never had a contract with any domestic manufacturer for such work," he adds.

Winnebago, the big recreational-vehicle manufacturer, funded some of the early work for Billings.

By the way, Billings doesn't use bottles for storing the gas but rather uses hydrogen hydrides. Oh yes, the compnay is working with Tappan to develop a hydrogen system for its gas-burning appliances as well.

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