REYKJAVIK, Iceland - This small island country, best known for its natural beauty, pop singer Bjork and exports of fish, aluminum and artificial limbs, intends to become the role model for island nations wishing to kick the petroleum habit by switching to a hydrogen economy.
Shell International Ltd. last month opened a public hydrogen fuel refilling station about five miles from downtown Reykjavik, Iceland's capital. It's the world's only public hydrogen station that emits no pollution.
The hydrogen is produced by electrolysis - electricity passing through fresh water to create gaseous hydrogen. The hydrogen is stored in seven huge cylindrical tanks.
The filling station, in a separate area from the petroleum fuel pumps, cost about $1.2 million to build. Shell, Iceland New Energy Ltd., the European Commission and DaimlerChrysler AG paid for the station.
Iceland New Energy plans to sell its hydrogen, technology and expertise to other island countries, where petroleum costs often account for as much as 90 percent of imports.
"Fuel independence is the key issue," says Jon Bjorn Skulason, general manager of Iceland New Energy.