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Coons and Blunt-Rochester show support for new zero-emission technology

Hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles have debuted in California, but need a hydrogen hub to refuel, but Air Liquide and Toyota are working to make that happen in Delaware.

The two companies created the Mirai, a zero-emission vehicle that runs on hydrogen-cell technology. And because hydrogen has the highest energy content of any fuel on the market, it could replace diesel.

Sen. Chris Coons drove a heavy-duty hydrogen-cell truck around the Air Liquide Innovation Campus Monday, and Rep. Lisa Blunt-Rochester test drove a Mirai to highlight and support the use of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles.

“Elegant, efficient, economical, I’m trying to think of every E-word I can think of, and easy to drive," Blunt-Rochester said after stepping out of the Mirai. "Wow, that was great.”

Coons, and Texas Republican Senator John Coryn are champions of the Hydrogen Infrastructure Initiative, a package of bills to support the technology and cut emissions in troublesome areas.

“These commercial scale demonstrations show that it is possible," Coons said. "And that hydrogen really can be the clean energy fuel of the future.”

Hydrogen powered vehicles, much like gasoline powered vehicles, can’t be refueled at home the way electric vehicles are, so an infrastructure of hydrogen hubs must be built before cars like the Mirai can hit the market in the First State.

Hydrogen fuel-cell technology is so versatile it can potentially pop up in aviation, power plants, construction vehicles, and more, as a clean substitute for gasoline and diesel.

And Air Liquide North America president Katie Ellet, President says it’s not meant to compete with battery electric and fuel cell electric

“There are applications where the batteries make total sense," Ellet said. "If you have a passenger car and you drive 40 miles or less a day, that's a good application, especially if you have a place to plug in every day. But for long-haul, for heavier payloads, for places where power or climate, cold climates and such, fuel cells make absolutely, quite a bit more sense.”

She adds that the Mirai and other hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles are not expected to hit the market until 2025.

Rachel Sawicki is Delaware Public Media's New Castle County Reporter. They are non-binary and use they/them pronouns.