'Hydrogen highway' from Montreal to Windsor

Montreal to Windsor 'hydrogen highway' to be built to accommodate fuel cell cars.

Canadian fuel cell companies say they're ready to build a hydrogen corridor between Windsor and Montreal so hydrogen-powered vehicles can fill up on the 900 km stretch.

Ron Britton, CEO of Fuel Cells Canada, says the corridor would be a "stepping-off point" for a countrywide hydrogen system.

"That corridor captures a third of all Canadians," said Britton.

Fuel cell cars are more environmentally-friendly than gas-powered automobiles because they use hydrogen as an energy source.The fuel cells run on hydrogen extracted from sources such as water, gasoline or methane. The chemical reaction that takes place produces less pollution than burning gasoline.

The money is expected to be channelled to building a hydrogen infrastructure in the country.

The National Research Council of Canada is working with B.C. Hydro and Methanex Corp. to build a hydrogen highway from the U.S. border to Whistler, B.C. in time for the 2010 Olympics.

Britton expects the Ontario project will be announced this year.

"It's time to get the public to see this as something they can understand and adapt to, rather than some mystery technology."

Consumers are reluctant to buy fuel cell vehicles unless they see fuelling stations and distribution facilities in place.

Britton suggests "nodes" of hydrogen production should be placed along high-traffic corridors.

Matt Fairlie of Stuart Energy Systems, a supplier of hydrogen fuelling stations, said the Windsor to Montreal route would be the ideal showcase.

"There's a lot of traffic and it's connecting a lot of important centres in Ontario."

Fairlie says the hydrogen highways need to be in place before mass production of fuel cell cars can begin.

Ford announced in June the city of Vancouver would get a fleet of Ford Focus fuel cell vehicles next year for demonstration purposes.