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Secretary Bodman, Johanns Announce Memorandum of Understanding to Advance Hydrogen Development from Biomass

May 25, 2005 - 12:56pm

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Biomass Investment Furthers President Bush's Hydrogen Initiative

WASHINGTON, DC - In an initiative to further advance President George W. Bush's vision for a hydrogen economy, Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman and Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns today announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Department of Energy (DOE) and Department of Agriculture (USDA) aimed at the development of hydrogen technologies, particularly the more cost-effective production of hydrogen from biomass resources. This effort is part of the President's $1.2 billion Hydrogen Fuel Initiative, which aims to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign sources of energy in addition to greenhouse gas emissions.

"Biomass technologies hold great promise for our rural communities and are a promising route to renewable hydrogen production," Secretary Bodman said. "By working together to make production of hydrogen from biomass more cost-effective, we are moving the nation one step closer to a hydrogen economy and energy independence."

"This partnership will hasten the day when hydrogen and fuel cell technologies are providing affordable domestic energy throughout our rural communities and the agriculture and forestry industries," said Agriculture Secretary Johanns. "Using technology to develop cost-effective energy supplies for consumers is an important goal of President Bush's energy policy."

Through this MOU DOE and USDA experts will meet regularly to share information on technologies and activities of mutual interest related to reducing the cost of chemically converting biomass to hydrogen. Biomass sources that can be used for hydrogen production include ethanol, crop and forest residues, and dedicated energy crops such as switchgrass or willow. This collaboration could help speed the deployment of emerging technologies - such as stationary fuel cells that can provide remote electric power for agricultural uses.

Transitioning to hydrogen technologies in the agriculture industry and in our rural communities is important for a number of reasons: Renewable, farm-based biomass can fuel hydrogen production; energy-hungry agricultural vehicles fueled by hydrogen can have the same efficiency and environmental benefits planned for light-duty cars and trucks; and hydrogen fuel cell technology can provide power for remote locations and communities.

DOE and USDA are also working together through the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Research and Development Interagency Task Force, which is part of the President's National Science and Technology Council. The MOU announced today will strengthen that relationship and help expand the use of hydrogen technologies throughout the nation.

The President's Hydrogen Fuel Initiative seeks to make practical, cost-effective and clean energy hydrogen fuel cell vehicles commercially available to Americans by 2020. The Department of Energy (DOE) is working with the automotive and energy industries to overcome the technical and economic barriers to a hydrogen economy through research and testing.

For more information, please visit: http://www.hydrogen.energy.gov/ or http://www.usda.gov/oce/.

Media contacts:
Mike Waldron, DOE, 202/586-4940
Ed Loyd, USDA, 202/720-4623

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