also see

Follow the Footsteps of History Across America logo
Governor William Gilpin of Colorado
1894--- The Cosmopolitan Railway- Colorado to Alaska.
map of EuroAsia CanAm Hydrogen Highway   
Hydrogen Intermodal Transporation
A Foundation for All Nations to Compete in the Global Economy
Major Dates in History
Welsh Chemist William Grove took a step backwards.
It was well known that adding electricity to water would separate its component elements, oxygen and hydrogen—a process known as electrolysis.
By the same logic, Grove figured, there must be a way to reverse the process: to join oxygen and hydrogen to produce water and electricity.
His experiment worked, and the fuel cell was born.
But fuel cells sat on the shelf for more than 100 years, little more than a laboratory curiosity.
1886--- April 19
the U.S. Senate requested a study on how to facilitate the settlement and develop the resources of the territory of Alaska, and an overland Rail Route between the United States / Russia / Japan.

Chief of the United States Geological Survey Department, Mr. J.W. Pwell was given the task f writing this Study.

This Study suggested three different Routes from Montana to the Bering Straits, based mainly upon information from Western union Telegraph and the Hudson Bay Company.
 1890--- The Cosmopolitan Railway- Colorado to Alaska
Governor William Gilpin of Colorado Published a Book entitled, The Cosmopolitan Railway.
Ravenstein estimated Earth’s carrying capacity at 5.994 billion people based on 73.2 million square kilometers in fertile lands (supporting 80 people per square kilometer), 36 million square kilometers of grasslands (supporting 3.9 people per square kilometer), and 10.9 million square kilometers in desert (supporting 0.4 people per square kilometer.)
1894--- The Cosmopolitan Railway- Colorado to Alaska.
Governor William Gilpin of Colorado gave a speech at Lawrence Kansas, and again later that year at Independence Mississippi.
The speech called for a Widelly Extended Railway System that would traverse the Continent and continue across the Bering Strait and across Siberia to connect with the Railways of Europe.
The New York Botanical Garden was established, following legislation drafted in 1891.
The First Modern day Expedition to Explore & Study the Pairs / Bering Strait / New York / Rail Corrior, was by English Engineer & Explorer Harry De Windt.

He Left New York City in the Spring of 1896, and worked his way to St. Michael Alaska & across to Cape Khoplin on the Asiatic Shores (Siberian Coast) of the Bering Sea.
At this point he had to return do to a supply Contract failure.
E.R. Harriman, Great Rail Magnate, Expedition to Alaska / Siberia / Bering Strait.

Although Mr. Harriman did go on this Expedition and wrote 10 to 12 volumes, giving full detailed reports of the entire trip, he did so as a rest Cure, while taking some 50 Scientists along on this Expedition, according to the former Union Pacific Railway Chairman Rollin Harriman and New York Governor Harriman.
THE ALASKA MIDLAND RAILROAD, With only a little imagination one can bring alive a 12x28-inch blueprint of the Haines-Fairbanks R.R. Route on display at the Sheldon Museum and Cultural Center.

Signed by H.P.M. Birkinbine, in April 1914, it sketches a project begun four years earlier as a dream of financier John Rosene and a group of surveyors to push the Alaska Midland Railroad from Haines to Fairbanks.

The typed legend accompanying the blue print shows mileage, resources along the route, and cost of transportation per ton from tidewater.

On the blueprint itself is recorded weather notes for 1907-1912: average weather- April to September, max. 75, min. 33; October to March, max. 51, min. 4; precipitation-April to September, rain 10.3 inches, snow 00; October to March, rain 7.09 inches, snow 88 inches.

Headlines in the Haines Pioneer Press during 1913 observed that "From Puget Sound to Fairbanks via Haines eliminates the open ocean and saves 330 miles."

Since other communities were beginning to push for a railroad to the Interior, the advantage of Haines' connection with the Inside Passage was important, and Haines was the only Southeast community requesting approval by the U.S. Congress.

The Haines Chamber of Commerce wrote directly to President Woodrow Wilson about the advantages of the Haines-Fairbanks route over those of Cordova and Seward.

Alas, Seward sent a delegation of business people to Washington to plead their case in person, which apparently proved more forceful than correspondence.

On June 21, the newspaper reported that the Alaska Railroad bill before Congress provided "for the construction of three roads with terminals at Seward, Cordova, and Controller Bay at Katella, extending to the Yukon River and the Bering and Matanuska coal fields."

The railroad actually built was much less extensive with Seward as its terminus.

By November 1910, the survey team had reported that from Isobel Pass to Wells there was a grade of only one and one-half percent, and the high point of the pass was 2,735 feet.
Early plans discussed crossing the Bering Strait, either by bridge or by a tunnel, to connect the railroad with the Siberian railroad.

In 1911, Rosene studied the Swiss monorail system at Brennan for a design to build spurs for the Porcupine and Rainy Hollow District on his railroad.

He thought the monorail system could even be used across the pass.

In the fall of 1911, the survey team of John Rosene, H.R. Robbins, H.P.M. Birkinbine, Steve Sheldon, and Gus Klaney returned to Haines, and Rosene reported that "the building of a railroad through this territory would be an easy undertaking."

Much of the route could be laid on a straight line with little grade. But the crew encountered stretches of tangled brush that had to be cleared by hand.

Rosene envisioned the opening of a rich mineral deposit in Alaska and Canada and shortened travel time between Seattle and Fairbanks.

"It would be but a 24-hour trip from Haines on into Fairbanks, a distance of 750 miles," he wrote.

It is reported that he raised two million dollars for the construction of his railroad.

He even foresaw possibilities of great farming country opening up.

The government decision in 1913 to support the railroad to Seward did not immediately dampen local enthusiasm for the Haines-Fairbanks project. Backers believed they might find private support.

The small blueprint on display is the one carried by Birkinbine the following year as he went to potential shippers to show them advantages of the Alaska Midland Railroad.

The U.S. government showed that it did not support railroad construction across Canada, and it was the period when the rich coal fields of the territory had been bottled up by a growing national conservation policy, but what other political and commercial considerations thwarted the railroad plan are not known.

The dream seemed shattered as America was drawn into World War 1.

By another generation and another war Haines would have its link with the Interior through the Haines Cut-off Highway, which joins the 1,520-mile Alcan Highway built by the U.S. Army in a little over eight months in 1942. Just surveying the Alaska Midland Railroad project took about two years.
Knibbs calculated that (exclusive of the Arctic and Antarctic) with a land area of 33 billion acres, Earth could yield 752.4 trillion bushels of corn, which could support a population of 132 billion.
The 18th Amendment to the US Constitution initiated a period of alcohol prohibition.
The nearly two decade period of prohibition caused great hardship for US vineyards and other growers and producers in the large beer, wine, and liquor industry.
July 1923---
The Alaska Railroad was completed when President Warren Harding rode the train into the Interior to drive in a golden spike across the Tanana River from Nenana, where the Alaska Railroad Museum now sits in the depot.
A major windstorm in the plains states removed 350 million tons of topsoil, scattering it over the eastern US and out into the Atlantic.
It is estimated that 12 million tons fell on Chicago.
The storms continued and by 1938 the top five inches of soil had been removed from 10,000,000 acres of land.

 In that year 850 million tons of soil were lost.  By 1938 3.5 million people had abandoned farms on the great plains.  One fifth of Oklahoma’s population moved to other states.
The Rural Electrification Administration (REA) was created through executive order by President F. D. Roosevelt, receiving Congressional authority the following year through passage of the Rural Electrification Act.

REA offered loans to cooperatives and power districts in order to finance distribution, transmission, and generation of power to rural areas.  In 1935 approximately one in ten US farms received electricity; by 1962 electricity was supplied to more than 97% of US farms.
Thor Heyerdahl sailed a raft made of balsa logs, the Kon Tiki, from South America far into the Pacific Ocean, to support his contention that prehistoric people could have made such journeys.

 Heyerdahl would use the presence in the Easter Islands of a plant called totara (Scirpus) that is native to coastal South America as suggesting ancient travel.

A closely related plant, also called totara, is used extensively by inhabitants of the area around Lake Titicaca -
for thatching, for construction of mats, even for building boats. (Heiser, 1985)
The US National Science Foundation was established.
The U.S. space program needed a renewable power source for its Gemini spacecraft.
It turned to a new fuel-cell technology, the proton exchange membrane, which dramatically increased the amount of energy captured from the hydrogen-oxygen reaction.

Today, that technology is vying to be the next great power revolution: clean, decentralized energy, powered by hydrogen.
Liquid balsam produced by species of Copaifera (copaiba tree) was found to be so similar in composition to diesel fuel that it could be utilized (with no further processing) to power a diesel engine.
State of Alaska Department of Transportation, completes Environmental Study:
Alaska Rail Road Extension to Canada and 48 States.
1985 / 86 ---
State of Alaska Buys the Alaska Rail Road from the United States Congress.
The state of Alaska bought the railroad, its real estate and its rolling stock from the federal government for $22.3 million.
French T G V Second Generation High Speed Rail Locomotive is Placed into Service.
1994 / 96---
French / English Channel Rail Road Tunnel OPENS.
Control of Hong Kong was returned to China in response to treaty conditions negotiated following the Opium Wars with Great Britain.
November 2000---
TR contributor Peter Fairley mapped the road to fuel cell cars in "Fill 'er Up with Hydrogen."
He discussed current efforts by carmakers, their alliances with fuel cell suppliers, and the challenges they face.
March 2001---
Fairley returned to the subject of fuel cells in "Power to the People," a look at fuel cells and a new generation of distributed generators called microturbines.

As backup systems in many commercial buildings today, these technologies appeal to customers who need power that is resistant both to failure and to fluctuation.

But big installations are only part of the fuel-cell story, reports TR contributor David Voss.

April 2001---
two TR stories documented fuel cell breakthroughs: the first, the Prototype "Fuel Cells Clean Up," highlighted a fuel-cell-powered vacuum cleaner; the second, "Building a Better Fuel Cell" by staff editor Alan Leo, detailed efforts at Caltech to improve on fuel cell membranes.

July 10, 2001
Honda announced the opening of the first hydrogen production and fueling station in the Los Angeles area. It's located at Honda's research and development center in Torrance, Calif., and uses solar power to extract hydrogen from water.

The gas is then pressurized and stored in tanks at the station.

An infrared camera monitors operation and the system shuts down automatically in the event of an earthquake.

July 12, BMW announced the opening of a fuel station for liquid hydrogen in conjunction with the fourth stop on its CleanEnergy World Tour 2001.

This station is located at the BMW Engineering and Emissions Control Test Center in Oxnard, Calif. Several 12-cylinder BMW 750hL models are permanently assigned to the center for testing and demonstrations.

November 2001---
"A Fuel Cell in Your Phone." Companies are racing to shrink fuel cells for mobile electronics, and several partnerships have already developed prototype fuel-cell phones.
January 2002---
"Fuel Cells vs. the Grid," TR contributor David Freedman examined the fuel cell's potential to compete with the power grid.

Backup power, he writes, will be fuel cells' killer app--paving the way for longer term advances such as the fuel cell car.

Which brings us back to the Energy Department's announcement last month that it would boost research into automotive fuel cells.

The initiative, called FreedomCAR, will support fuel cell projects at government labs, and encourage research by the Big Three automakers.'s Leo asks the experts what the plan will mean for auto research.

There’s a power revolution coming, and it will run on hydrogen.

Fuel cells use chemical reactions to produce electricity from hydrogen fuel (some start with compounds such as methanol and then extract the hydrogen).

Unlike batteries, which store a fixed amount of energy, fuel cells can produce power as long as they are supplied with fuel.

Today, the world buys several hundred million dollars worth of fuel cells each year to provide power generation for utilities, buildings, spacecraft and industrial machinery.

As the technology improves, fuel cells are predicted to overtake batteries in many applications, from backup power to mobile electronics.

And the fuel cell industry is chasing an even bigger target: the internal combustion engine. After a century of refinement, the engine in your car is still only 25% efficient—that is, only a quarter of the energy stored in its fuel is converted to useful work.

Fuel cells, on the other hand, convert nearly fifty percent of their hydrogen fuel into electricity—with the potential for further improvement. And where the internal combustion engine coughs out a cloud of smog, hydrogen fuel cells produce only water.

But many challenges stand in the way of fuel cell cars, including how to increase cells' durability, reduce their cost, and improve fuel storage.

The greatest challenge may be to create an infrastructure to extract and deliver the hydrogen fuel. Last month, the Department of Energy announced a new effort to tackle these challenges with government and industry research into automotive fuel cells.
February 20, 2004---
World's First Fuel Cell-Powered Train Locomotive Slated for 2008
Hydrogen-Electric High-Speed Train Transportation Technology for the 21st century has arrived.

This New Technology will lead the World into an era of Supper Fast, Safe, Reliable, Green Transnational Transportation.

MesoFuel, Inc. has been awarded a contract by Vehicle Projects LLC of Denver, CO to design and manufacture the hydrogen generator for a fuel cell-powered train locomotive.
This will be the largest fuel cell powered vehicle ever built.

This project was conceived by Vehicle Projects and completion is scheduled for 2008.
"We selected MesoFuel to design and manufacture the ammonia-based hydrogen generation system because of the compactness and efficiency of its MesoChannel hydrogen generation systems," said Vehicle Projects LLC President Arnold Miller.

"MesoFuel is the leader in power-dense hydrogen generation from ammonia, and the ability to process this attractive fuel was a key consideration for us." MesoFuel, along with multiple organizations, will work on the multi-million dollar project in order to produce a complete fuel cell power source that is capable of replacing diesel engines in locomotives.

"Providing a simple, low fuel cost ammonia-based hydrogen generation system for this project is exciting because ammonia is an excellent fuel choice," said MesoFuel CEO Ned Godshall.
"It has an extremely high volumetric energy content and is available nationwide via railcar.

Three-quarters of all the atoms in ammonia are hydrogen atoms -- this liquid is one of the most energy-dense forms of hydrogen available -- and so is therefore ideal for the distribution and production of the hydrogen needed for hydrogen fuel cells.

"In addition to the fuel-cell-locomotive project, fuel cells are expected to soon have numerous commercial and defense applications because they provide an efficient, zero-emission power source required for future technologically-advanced electronic systems and vehicles.

MesoFuel products enable the on-site, on-demand production of pure hydrogen for fuel cells. The development of MesoFuel technologies have been partly funded under the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency's (DARPA) Palm Power Program and the Army Research Office.

MesoFuel, Inc. ( of Albuquerque, NM focuses on the introduction of low-cost hydrogen generators into commercial fuel cell markets.

Using micro- and meso-scale technology, the company produces on-site, on-demand hydrogen generators for environmentally-friendly consumer, industrial, and military fuel cell applications.

MesoFuel has developed hydrogen generation systems that operate on a variety of fuels, including both light and heavy hydrocarbons, de-carbonized fuels such as ammonia, and renewable fuels such as soy diesel. MesoFuel provides the fuel for fuel cells.

Sept. 22, 2004---
How long will the world's oil last?
As production peaks, economic impact could be dire. When the modern oil industry was born 145 years ago in Titusville, Pa., few people worried about just how long petroleum would keep flowing out of the ground.

But since production peaked in the United States in 1970, a growing number of geologists, economists and industry analysts have been pondering the question of just how long worldwide supplies will keep up with growing demand. And some are predicting that global production may peak as soon as next year.

September 24 2004---
Check-In at L.A. Airport:
Slow screenings have created long lines on sidewalks and in lobbies that are a ``tempting target for terrorists,'' the Rand Corporation said in a 47-page report released Friday. The study proposed forming a SWAT team to reduce an attack by armed terrorists.

The airport, among the world's busiest, is considered one of California's biggest terror targets.
It has twice been targeted for attacks - a foiled bomb plot planned for around New Year's Day 2000, and a shooting at a check-in counter that left three dead on July 4, 2002.

Nov. 25, 2004---
A survey conducted for AAA by the Travel Industry Association of America said 30.6 million people, or 3 percent more than in 2003, were expected to hit the road during the holiday weekend, even with gasoline prices nearly one-third higher than a year ago. An additional 6.6 million were likely to travel by plane, train or bus.

The snow caused delays as long as three hours Wednesday at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, and nearly 50 flights were canceled outright.

More than 300 people stayed the night at the airport, Department of Aviation spokeswoman Annette Martinez said.

Bad weather in Michigan forced Northwest Airlines to cancel 37 flights, 22 of them into or out of Detroit. At Lansing's Capital City Airport, a Northwest Airlines jet carrying 87 passengers and four crew slid off a snow-slicked runway during landing.

High winds along Interstate 74 near Greensburg, Ind., caused a semitrailer to overturn, leaving the highway strewn with debris.

Indiana had also had severe thunderstorms and heavy snow. The rain fell across the south, the snow in the north.

``We've had quite a few crashes - slideoffs, fender-benders and people ending up in ditches, but no injuries,'' said Indiana State Trooper Tom Szymanski. Elsewhere in the country, highways were bumper-to-bumper in Georgia.

The weather also disrupted travel in the Northeast. Airports in New York City, Boston and Newark, N.J., experienced delays up to two hours because of rain.

Today Highway & Airport Grid Lock!
A Nation that has left it's Roots & depends on Two forms of Public Transportation!

A historical look at oil
In real terms, stripping out the impact of inflation, oil prices are much lower today than the highs of some past spikes.
The following details average annual dollar-denominated oil prices in the money of the day and the equivalent price in 2002.
As of May 14, 2004
Money of the day
2002 dollars
1861 - Pennsylvania oil boom
1876 - Russian oil exports start
1945 - Post-war reconstruction
1974 - Arab oil embargo
1979 - Iranian revolution
1980 - Iranian revolution
1981 - Post-Iranian revolution
1990 - Iraqi invasion of Kuwait
1998 - Asian economic crisis
2004 - Year-to-date
1861-1944: U.S. average, 1945-1985: Arabian Light posted at Ras Tanura, 1986-present day: Brent spot
Gas  04-10-2005 Dallors $2.90 a gal.

04 10 2008
All Aboard the Hydrogen Train
Stan Thompson has a better idea
Stan Thompson is passionate about air quality and new technologies, and he's particularly passionate about bringing hydrogen-powered commuter rail to this area.

Better yet, the retired strategic planner from BellSouth has been doing something about it, networking with everyone from engineers to government officials to speed up the day when his vision becomes a reality.

With the EPA recently naming Mecklenburg and seven surrounding counties in violation of the new ozone standard for air quality,
a need for cleaner, renewable energy has never been greater.

Thompson and his allies say that although hydrogen-powered commuter rail is at least a few years down the road, it could be a big source of relief for the region's smog.

Americans are no strangers to technology-based visions.
After all, we've all long been promised a helicopter in every driveway and a robot maid in every closet.

But experts say Thompson's idea is one futuristic innovation that appears as if it will actually happen: hydrogen-powered commuter trains.

This may not sound as sexy as an automated maid or personal flying vehicles, but the implications are profound and far-reaching.

For decades there has been talk of hydrogen -- a tasteless, odorless, colorless chemical compound that is one of the basic building blocks of water -- replacing both gas and oil as fuel.

There have been some strides made over the years with hydrogen-powered vehicles of one kind or another, but only recently have we neared the point where hydrogen technology can be realistically applied to large-scale commercial transit.

Thompson's vision is that such a project -- the first of its kind in the world -- could get its start along the 28-mile North Corridor commuter rail system linking Charlotte to Mooresville.

There's still research and development to be done, and other hurdles to overcome, but a group of activists is trying to get all the pieces to fall into place.

If they succeed, "hydrail," as local supporters have dubbed it, could dramatically impact the entire Charlotte region in terms of transportation, the environment, tourism, economic development, and perhaps even the state's place in history.

Stan Thompson has been a longtime activist for improving Charlotte's air quality, having worked with the EPA since the early 90s on reducing congestion as a way to abate pollution.

When he retired to Mooresville in 1996, he joined the Charlotte Chamber's Transportation Committee, as well as Voices and Choices --
a regional non-profit organization that promotes economic and environmental sustainability -- to continue trying to solve our air quality problems.

But Thompson stresses that the issue of clean air isn't just a matter of legislation, sanctions or administrative law.

"It's a matter of life and death," Thompson says. "Both my parents died in Charlotte of lung disease.

I very nearly died here of asthma when I was in third grade. I've long been concerned about Charlotte's collision course with non-attainment. Before I moved to Mooresville, Charlotte was my home. My friends are here. Air quality is a personal thing."

It was with this impassioned mindset that Thompson first brought up the idea of hydrail during a 2000 Charlotte Chamber meeting.

Although the idea was dismissed as not being technologically viable, Thompson began researching and networking in earnest, talking with scientists, environmentalists, light rail experts and policy makers across the country.

Thompson also got together with friend and longtime Mooresville resident Jim Bowman, a retired aeronautical engineer who once worked on NASA's Lunar Lander program. Bowman also believed in the idea, and his in-depth, hands-on engineering experience complemented Thompson's theoretical approach.

Together, the two men came up with the term "hydrail," and began spreading the word about their evolving idea.

As the hydrail project gained momentum, Bill Thunberg, Economic Development VP for the Mooresville/South Iredell Chamber, asked Thompson to chair Mooresville's Transportation Committee.

"When I first met Stan, I was looking for a way for the people and different agencies of this region to bring their resources together and help improve the quality of life," Thunberg says.

"When Stan started talking about hydrail, I immediately latched on.

This project has so much potential, and the synergies are obvious.
I believe the impact in this region could be a lot stronger than the biotech industry, which is being touted at the state level."

Specifically, Thunberg sees the project creating in the area a "Hydrogen Valley USA," and points out that there is renewable hydroelectric power available from a number of sources along or near the North Corridor rail line, including Cowan's Ford Dam and McGuire Nuclear Station.

"It's an entirely new industry," Thunberg says.

"There's all kinds of economic development opportunities in terms of new businesses, jobs and tourism. It would be completely unique."

"I think it's a great idea," says Mooresville Town Manager Rick McLean.

"It's certainly worth pursuing.
Thompson and some of the folks he's working with are well qualified and seem to think that while it's a longterm project, it is feasible.

The town of Mooresville certainly supports it. We'd love to see a hydrogen-powered commuter train come to Mooresville."

Jason Wagner, coordinator for Centralina Clean Fuels Coalition (CCFC), an agency that strives to improve air quality, reduce petroleum dependence, and expand alternative fuel use and technology, also believes in the project.

"Hydrogen fueling for transportation is a ways off but is likely to play a major role in improving our air quality and dependence on oil in the long run," Wagner says.

"We see the (hydrail project) as making hydrogen fueling distribution logistics and costs more feasible in our region, but how do we get there?

At some point somebody has to take a risk and step outfront. Stan is an example of someone willing to do that."

Experts say it can work
Local boosterism is all well and good, but is this all just a big pipe dream and wishful thinking?

Not when you start listening to what some of the folks around the country Thompson has been tirelessly networking have to say. Indeed, many stress that the need to meet the growing demand for energy while at the same time producing less environmental impact is one of the most important issues now facing the country.

Vehicle Projects LLC, a company based in Denver, Colorado, built the world's first hydrogen fuel cell-powered locomotive.

Completed in 2002, the locomotive pulls ore cars in underground metal mining.

The company also recently started developing a 109 metric-ton fuel cell-powered locomotive --
the largest in the world -- for the US Army to perform various military and commercial railway functions.

Dr. Arnold Miller, the president of Vehicle Projects, is considered one of the industry's pioneers.

Prior to Vehicle Projects, Miller was a professor at the Colorado School of Mines, and he conducted a study examining different niche markets for fuel cell vehicles to determine which one was most commercially viable. "

Cars are difficult because they have to be fast, cheap, look beautiful and have plenty of trunk space," says Miller. "
But a niche market like a locomotive is much easier."

Miller has had many discussions with Thompson concerning his hydrail project, and believes it has many benefits.

Namely, because fuel cells are based on electrochemistry rather than combustion, they're efficient, quiet, and have zero emissions and so would help dramatically reduce both air and noise pollution.

Moreover, Miller says that fuel cell vehicles are "the wave of the future," and will help solve many of society's problems.
"It could increase national energy security by reducing our dependency on imported oil," Miller says.

"We can produce hydrogen here by many different inexhaustible means.

Plus, fuelcells as a rule of thumb are twice as efficient as engines.
So even if the fuel is more expensive, you're going to have to use about half as much."

Miller says the technology will also make mass transit far more time efficient.

"If you want to take a trip from Charlotte to Atlanta, it would take you more time to fly compared to a high-speed train by the time you get to the airport, go through security, rent a car, and drive into the city.

But if you have a high-speed train that goes from city center to city center, you'd be there much faster. I know this because I do it all the time in Europe. It's very convenient."

Also paying close attention to Thompson's hydrail initiative is Dr. Linda Rimer, the US EPA Region IV Liaison to NC and SC.

Rimer explains that the EPA is chiefly concerned with hydrail in terms of how it might fit into their quality of life initiative called SEQL --
 Sustainable Environment for the Quality of Life. SEQL's goal is to develop a regional strategy to maintain a higher quality of life in terms of clean air and water, good jobs, land use, transportation and energy.

After Thompson gave a briefing to Rimer and others at the EPA last year about hydrail, she says it was clear it could play an important role in her group's overall vision.

"Hydrail helps with transportation, reducing congestion, improving air quality and creating jobs," Rimer says.

"The EPA is mostly looking for incentives that would make local governments and communities cooperate across boundaries and for companies to adopt cleaner technologies so the whole region could have a higher quality of life.

A hydrail plan in Mooresville could demonstrate the technology that would promote a more rapid advancement towards hydrogen-fueled trains. And there are certainly air quality benefits to be gained if this technology is developed and adopted on a broader scale."

Another of Thomson's key supporters is the Department of Energy (DOE). David Dunagan, DOE's transportation project manager in Atlanta, says hydrail has potential in terms of how it fits into their ongoing alternative fuel programs.

"Our agency has a tremendous amount of ongoing research and development on alternative fuel materials, catalysts, storage, production and conversion.

Once we get further with research and into the actual application -- trucks, locomotives, etc. -- we will be in a much better position.

"The promise for this is tremendous if they can overcome the technological barriers," Dunagan continued. "It sounds very intriguing, and we have encouraged Thompson.

I certainly think he may be onto something, and I think it can definitely happen in a few years."

Researchers at UNC-Charlotte hope to facilitate that possibility. UNCC is one of several major universities participating in DOE-funded hydrogen research projects.

Dr. Hilary Inyang is the director of UNCC's Global Institute for Energy and Environmental Systems (GIEES).

Inyang is leading a research team which has done preliminary work on the production of hydrogen through a process called "plasma electrolysis," which Inyang says could have general applications for projects such as hydrail.

"It could produce the energy that at some later point could be introduced into the hydrail system," Inyang explains.

Currently, hydrogen is removed from water by a process called hydrolysis, which involves running an electric current through the water.

But the process is time-consuming and requires enormous amounts of electrical power, making hydrogen a costly energy source.

Inyang's plasma electrolysis project is looking into a process that doesn't heat the water, but rather creates a gas that forms on top of the water, from which the hydrogen is derived.

"If hydrogen is produced in plasma, then its collection efficiency is much higher compared to hydrolysis," Inyang says.

Prior to coming to UNCC, Inyang was the Chair of the Engineering Committee of the Science Advisory Board of the US EPA.

He is also taking part in several global research and technical activities on energy, infrastructure development and the environment.

Inyang says he's had many discussions with Thompson about hydrail, and it's an initiative he believes in.

"It is a viable project, and it will happen one day. I have no doubt. It's not really an issue of the technology being developed itself, but an issue of technology integration.
The increase in renewable energy is undeniable and inevitable."

Inyang hopes to receive a new DOE grant in the fall in order to carry out the second phase of his plasma electrolysis study.

The question of cost
Once all the technological requirements are worked out, there are still many factors involved in implementing a viable hydrogen-powered light rail commuter system.

Many of these factors are the same ones Charlotte already faces in terms of light rail -- most notably the cost, and if we have the population and infrastructure to support such a system.

"The fuel cells are more efficient, but you have to balance that with the fact that the hydrogen fuels would be more expensive," Miller says. "But price depends on scale of manufacture.

So if you have a large market, the price of fuel and fuel cells will come down. One of the problems we have here in the US with high-speed rail is that our population density is not as high as in Europe and Japan, and the infrastructure costs are very high for high-speed rail."

Miller says Vehicle Projects has a business plan that calls for demonstrating a hydrogen-powered commuter rail application in 2009.

As you might imagine, there are other cities studying the viability of such a program, including Chicago and Long Island, both of which have long traditions of commuter rail, and greater, denser populations.

In other words, NC has plenty of competition, but Miller says he isn't favoring any city over another. "At this point we just have to wait and see"

Ron Tober, CEO of the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS), says that while the hydrail technology looks promising, CATS is currently focusing on trying to move ahead with the commuter rail project in the North Corridor and have commuter trains in operation in the next three to five years.

Tober says they are having discussions with Norfolk Southern (which owns that section of rail) about purchasing or some right-of-way agreement. Depending on how those talks go, he expects the North Corridor to be open and operating sometime between 2007-2009.

Thompson, incidentally, stresses that hydrail would not interfere with CATS' North Corridor plans, but would hopefully be tested and introduced down the line.

"I think it's (hydrail) much farther off into the future for us to get involved," Tober says.

"We need to make sure we have technology that's going to provide reliable and safe service. There needs to be more development.

We support what Thompson is doing, and the concept is good, particularly in this area. But at this point we're not counting on it."

Mayor McCrory's office, where Thompson presented his hydrail project last year, is also taking a wait and see position.

"The Mayor's Office is open to seeing how this technology demonstrates its ability to be used," says McCrory's assistant, Dennis Marstall. "There's still a lot more to be done, but it's something we'll certainly consider and are interested to see if it becomes a viable technology."

Meanwhile, Thompson and others continue to tirelessly champion the hydrail initiative in the hopes that when such a project is ready to roll, it will be pulling out of a North Carolina station.

"What Thompson is trying to do is position the area so that when the hydrogen technology becomes commercially feasible we'll be the first demonstration project," says Dunagan of the DOE. "And that has a lot of validity to it."
Contact Sam Boykin at or 704-944-3623.
Video- Biden Touts High-speed Rail Investment in Philly

Some of the Following information was culled from several Internet sources including,
Popular Mechanics

Do You have a question for
culled 08 05 21014

longest bridge in Alaska
No Money For Railroad Tracks

SALCHA -- Alaska's top elected officials gathered here Tuesday to mark the completion of the longest bridge in Alaska, expressing hope that someday it will be part of a railroad connection to Canada and the Lower 48, though no money is headed down the ...
Pedestrians walked across the longest bridge in Alaska Tuesday, August 5, 2014 during opening ceremonies for the $187 million Tanana River ...

The newly built bridge spans 3,300 feet over the murky waters of the Tanana River, with its 19 piers requiring 12,000 yards of concrete.

The Northern Rail Extension is the lynchpin to an ambitious four-phase project to connect military training grounds near Delta Junction to the Fairbanks area by rail.

Funding for the project included $104 million from the Department of Defense, along with $84 million from the state, which paid for construction, environmental studies and design.

by Andrew Michler, 08/23/11
In what could certainly be one of the boldest infrastructure developments ever announced, the Russian Government has given the go-ahead to build a transcontinental railway linking Siberia with North America.

The massive undertaking would traverse the Bering Strait with the world’s longest tunnel – a project twice the length of the Chunnel between England and France.

The $65 billion project aims to feed North America with raw goods from the Siberian interior and beyond, but it could also provide a key link to developing a robust renewable energy transmission corridor that feeds wind and tidal power across vast distances while linking a railway network across 3/4 of the Northern Hemisphere.

The idea is actually not very new — Tsar Nicholas II dreamed of the railway and tunnel in 1905.

The on-again off-again scheme would provide a vital economic resource for both Asia and Americas by providing an efficient link of not only goods and passengers but also fiber optic cables and transmission lines.

The key is a 65-mile-long tunnel that would pass underneath the Big Diomede and Little Diomede islands in the Bering Strait.
The tunnel, at a projected cost of $10-12 billion, is to be built in three sections and would cross the International Date Line, reconnecting the two land masses.
Now, she wants governments in her country and Canada to get moving on building a high-speed rail line that would link Manhattan, where her district lies, to cities north of the border. 2012 10 02

Airbus 2017 concept car

Airbus  concept  car
Urban mobility takes shape with Italdesign and Airbus’ Pop.Up
Airbus Group
During the 87th Geneva International Motor Show, Italdesign and Airbus world-premiered Pop.Up, the first modular, fully electric, zero emission concept vehicle system designed to relieve traffic congestion in crowded megacities.

Pop.Up envisages a modular system for multi-modal transportation that makes full use of both ground and airspace.
Airbus just revealed a wild concept car ...
that can be airlifted by a drone.
Published on Mar 7, 2017
Airbus has revealed its new concept car, the Pop.Up, which can be detached from its wheeled chassis to be airlifted by an autonomous drone.

Smart Cities
The Connected World

In ‘The Future of Cities,’
innovative responses to urban issues
Aging Infrastructure after 8 years of OBAMA
More than 31 cities around the globe -- including Tokyo, Delhi, Cairo and Mexico City -- are considered megacities, with populations of more than 10 million people.

As the number of city dwellers increases, so do problems like overcrowding, pollution, housing shortages and aging infrastructure.

The online mini-documentary, “The Future of Cities,” explores the ways citizens are mobilizing to address these issues. NewsHour Weekend’s Ivette Feliciano reports.
Smart Cities
News covering the Connected World, IoT and Smart Cities
Stories that Drive this World Forward

The leading media platform dedicated to IoT
The Connected World
we work with the industry's top technologies, thinkers and companies.
suburbs aging infrastructure
The American suburbs ...
as we know them are dying
Aging Infrastructure after 8 years of OBAMA
Ashley Lutz
Look no further than the suburbs to see how American ideals about success are transforming.

People in the US suburbs are changing the way they shop, where they eat, and what they want in their homes.

Malls are shutting down as e-commerce continues to take over, and the casual-dining chains that fed shoppers after a day of hoofing it through the mall are struggling to cope.

China Train to America
China's Underwater High-Speed Train to America
China Uncensored

Who wants to take an underwater train ride to China?!

China is planning to build a high-speed rail connecting China and the continental United States that will tunnel under the 125 mile stretch of ocean beneath the Bering Strait.

And that's just one of three other wacky ambitious plans they have that completely disregard the reality of the natural environment!
The Old North Trail ~ The Bering Strait Crossing ~ Pan American Highway
The Blackfoot Trail     The Cosmopolitan Railway
Russian Super Highway
Could Connect London to New York!
Google Hands-Free Hydrogen-Electric CARS!
Published on Mar 27, 2015
Russia has unveiled ambitious plans to build a superhighway that ...
in theory, could make it possible to drive from London on one end to New York on the other.
Russia Green Lights $65 Billion
Siberia-Alaska Rail
by Andrew Michler
In what could certainly be one of the boldest infrastructure developments ever announced, the Russian Government has given the go-ahead to build a transcontinental railway linking Siberia with North America.

The massive undertaking would traverse the Bering Strait with the world’s longest tunnel – a project twice the length of the Chunnel between England and France.

The $65 billion project aims to feed North America with raw goods from the Siberian interior and beyond, but it could also provide a key link to developing a robust renewable energy transmission corridor that feeds wind and tidal power across vast distances while linking a railway network across 3/4 of the Northern Hemisphere.

We still haven't named anything for Jay Hammond, the late two-term governor many Alaskans would nominate for sainthood for starting Alaska Permanent Fund dividends. Nor have we used the names of Alaska Constitution writers Vic Fischer or Irene Ryan, ...

Geographically, Fairbanks lies in the heart of Alaska. The last major stopping off point before a journey into 6 million acres of Denali National Park and Preserve and to the vast Interior and Arctic Alaska, the third largest city in the 50th state of ...

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - BP PLC signed a $2.22-billion deal Saturday restoring its share of an onshore oil block in Abu Dhabi by agreeing to give the emirate stock in the company worth 2 percent of the oil giant's overall value.
Alaska's three Republican electors - including Carolyn Leman, whose correspondence is pictured here - have been deluged with letters, emails and phone calls urging them to cast their votes for a presidential candidate other than the one to whom they ...

IRVING, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Global population growth of nearly 2 billion, a doubling of worldwide economic output and rapid expansion of the middle class in emerging economies are all expected to contribute to energy demand growth of about 25 ...

Employees went on strike after Exxon Mobil on Monday began to issue letters to around 150 Nigerian workers without informing the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria

05 -06-2017
PARIS - It was only the latest plot twist in a long, bitter campaign defined by rancor and uncertainty.
The day before France's most momentous presidential election in recent history, authorities were still investigating the “massive and coordinated ...

In a Beijing ballroom ...
BEIJING - The Kushner family came to the United States as refugees, worked hard and made it big - and if you invest in Kushner properties, so can you.

Amid Putin 'bromance,'
Steven Seagal, the American actor best known for his role in '90s action movies such as “Hard to Kill” and “Under Siege,” has been blacklisted from the Ukraine as a national security threat.

Canadian Prime Minister
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross fired back at Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Saturday, calling Canada's trade threats "inappropriate.

'Spend Your Free Time In A Red State'-

American Unemployment rate drops ...
The U.S. job market rebounded strongly last month and the unemployment rate fell to the lowest level seen in a decade, government data released Friday morning showed, calming fears that had bubbled up in the past month about the state of the economy.


Stephen Hawking »

we must leave Earth
In November, Stephen Hawking and his bulging computer brain gave humanity what we thought was an intimidating deadline for finding a new planet to call home: 1,000 years.

Amtrak & China's bullet trains
Here's how America's Amtrak compares to China's bullet trains
The INSIDER Summary:China's bullet trains are faster than Amtrak in the US.

They're also significantly cheaper.
The interiors of the trains look pretty much the same.

Train travel isn't the most popular way to get around in the US.
Editors Note
The American Auto Industry put a STOP to Passenger Trains years ago!
an the American Airline Industry Teamed up with the Auto companies.
it's called Lobby Congress to make a monopoly.

Amtrak is the only high speed intercity passenger rail in the country, and it hasn't made a profit since its establishment.

The federal government continues to subsidize its operations to the tune of $1 billion every year, and last year's ridership was around 31.3 million passengers - a new record.

China's high speed railway, on the other hand, is the most heavily used in the world, with 1.44 billion passengers every year.

Ridership isn't the only difference between these two railways - here's how they stack up.