While scientists and politicians bickered about carbon emissions at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, the Bronx established itself as a leader in clean automotive technology.
On Thursday, December 10, General Motors, Shell and the New York City Department of Sanitation opened a hydrogen fuel station at the intersection of E. 223rd Street and Provost Avenue near Seton Falls Park, only the third such station in the metropolitan area. There are fewer than ten Shell hydrogen stations worldwide. Shell previously opened stations at JFK International Airport and in White Plains.
GM has lent one of its Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Cell Electric vehicles to DSNY to test. The “green” vehicles run on hydrogen and produce no poisonous exhaust, only electricity and water vapor. The DSNY vehicle will fill up at the Bronx station, in back of a DSNY garage. So will a handful of vehicles lent to businesses and individuals in the metropolitan area. Only 100 or so hydrogen-powered Equinox vehicles exist.
DSNY agreed to partner with GM and Shell because it wants a cleaner fleet, Commissioner John Doherty said. DSNY will have the vehicle for at least six months, he added. It will be assigned to the Bronx.
“We want to test [the hydrogen-powered Equinox] because…it’s the cleanest vehicle available,” Doherty said. “We want to see whether it works.”
GM and Shell were thrilled to open a hydrogen station in the Bronx because New York City has high standards for new technology. The station passed a battery of safety tests. Hydrogen fuel remains too expensive for widespread use. Shell researchers hope to reduce the cost of hydrogen fuel production, expand clean hydrogen production and build hydrogen fuel infrastructure.
“[The station] represents what is needed on a wider scale to make hydrogen-powered vehicles viable,” GM expert Charles Freese said.
Shell researchers expect global demand for energy to double by 2050 but want to help keep carbon dioxide levels the same.
Neighbors of the DSNY garage weren’t alerted to the new hydrogen fuel station. Neither was Community Board 12, district manager Carmen Rosa said. The news worried some neighbors, already frightened thanks to the Hexagon Laboratories hazardous waste site nearby. Cecilia Colon was glad to hear that the station wouldn’t add to truck traffic in the neighborhood.
“The trailer traffic here is terrible,” Colon said.
Reach reporter Daniel Beekman at 718 742-3383 or firstname.lastname@example.org