MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Middle Tennessee State University professor Dr. Cliff Ricketts considers himself a pioneer in the use of alternative fuels, particularly for automobiles.
Monday, he drove from Bristol, Virginia to West Memphis, Arkansas in a converted 1994 Toyota Tercel that runs on hydrogen derived solely from water.
Dr. Ricketts compared his trip to the Wright Brothers' first flight.
He told News 2, “Their plane only went 600 feet and that plane's not worth anything to anybody, but by gosh, they did it. So what we're showing today by driving across the length of Tennessee is that we have a process so every commuter could drive daily.”
To get hydrogen to fuel the car, Dr. Ricketts and his team separate hydrogen out of water using electricity through the process of electrolysis.
To make it a greener process, their electricity comes from solar energy.
“We have our own fueling station here. In other words, it's analogous to a refinery,” Dr. Ricketts explained. “They take oil, make gas. We take sun and water and make hydrogen.”
Dr. Ricketts told News 2 he been interested in alternatives fuels since 1978, when gas was $1.60 per gallon.
“[The] only thing that comes out of the tailpipe if it is tuned right is water,” he continued.
“Now, if it's not tuned right its nitrous oxide, and that's laughing gas so if it's not tuned right we just get tickled about it,” he laughed.