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Follow the green brick road

Research Commissioner Mr Philippe Busquin spent Monday looking at the future - in the form of an environmentally friendly car that could help Europe achieve some of its 'green' targets. The 'fuel cell' car was on display in Tervuren, Belgium and Mr Busquin was encouraged by ...

Research Commissioner Mr Philippe Busquin spent Monday looking at the future - in the form of an environmentally friendly car that could help Europe achieve some of its 'green' targets. The 'fuel cell' car was on display in Tervuren, Belgium and Mr Busquin was encouraged by its development. 'We are making real progress on the way to a means of transport that combines the comfort of a normal car with zero pollution,' he said. The European Commission has been supporting research into fuel cell energy since 1988 and this prototype car forms a major breakthrough. This is particularly important in the context global energy demands, which are predicted to double between 2000 and 2030, while the European Union has committed itself to reducing greenhouse emissions. It is generally recognised, however, that there are some obstacles to overcome before the car is entirely ready. It is more expensive than a conventional car, has higher running costs, can't go as far and runs on hydrogen, which is both inflammable and not freely available. But none of these difficulties is insurmountable and work is taking place on most of them at present and progress is being made. Should all of them be overcome, a convenient and eco-friendly car that only emits water vapour would be the result. The project is receiving 28 million euro from the European Union's Fifth Framework programme to carry out further research. Research already carried out by the EU's Joint Research Centre (JRC) in Ispra, Italy has indicated that hydrogen-powered cars are not excessively riskier than gasoline-powered cars.