File this one under “weaksauce”. After trying to cut research funding by hundreds of millions for hydrogen technology (most of which was restored by Congress), the Department of Energy has announced a $1 million prize for a hydrogen technology breakthrough. The contest seeks an entry that will improve current hydrogen storage issues, involving highly-pressurized tanks.
But plenty of rules, red tape, and a short deadline may shortchange this contest of its best entrants.
I just can’t take this contest seriously. First off we’re talking about the government (as a whole here, no partisanship implied), which has spent trillions of dollars on all sorts of silly research and programs. But all they can scrounge up to compel people is a million bucks? Research is expensive, folks.
I sort of understand the part about disallowing federal employees or companies working with government money on hydrogen projects already. The thought process might be wishful thinking, but maybe they are hoping to encourage backyard engineers.
Then there is the timeline. February of 2011 is the “predicted” end date. About a year and a half to come up with technology that has been researched in vain for decades. I’m not saying there isn’t an answer out there. But if Google can cough up $30 million to land a robot on the moon, surely the government can offer more than a million bucks to make hydrogen a viable alternative fuel.