ALLENTOWN — The Da Vinci Science Center today introduced its hydrogen-fueled vehicle education initiative. The $2.4-million research and education project will demonstrate hydrogen’s capacity as a safe, clean, and effective transportation fuel – one that can provide for American energy self-sufficiency and reduced emissions. It also will promote the benefits of a hydrogen economy and advancements made toward its development. U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent (PA-15), founding co-chairman of the House Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Caucus, presented ceremonial bus keys, and the vehicles roared to life when eighth grade students from The Swain School, Allentown, exclaimed “Start the Hydrogen Buses!”

The Da Vinci Science Center will manage the initiative, which is funded largely by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) through a request by Congressman Dent in the 2005 Highway Bill. The FTA will use project data to inform its future efforts throughout the United States.

The Da Vinci Science Center will create a state-of-the-art spherical projection exhibit and informative public programming about hydrogen. The new exhibit sphere is scheduled to open in December. The demonstration buses will serve as high-profile examples of hydrogen-fueled vehicles operating cleanly and safely in the greater Lehigh Valley

The Center also has teamed with Air Products and Lehigh Valley Hospital – Cedar Crest to place the hydrogen-powered demonstration buses on their campuses and a hydrogen fueling station at Air Products. The buses will appear frequently at community events.

“I’m glad the students are here, because this is for them,” Congressman Dent said. “We must work for a future where we develop safe, clean, alternative fuels instead of oil from unstable parts of the world. Hydrogen is just one part of that initiative.”

“There is a clear need to develop economic, safe, and environmentally-friendly transportation fuels and to promote their use,” said Robert A. Fox, associate director and director of education for the Da Vinci Science Center. “The Da Vinci Science Center is proud to assume a leading role in this vital national dialogue.”

The National Research Council and the National Academy of Engineering has recommended that the federal government develop and introduce safe and clean fueling systems that use hydrogen as a way to reduce American dependence on traditional energy sources and reduce carbon emissions. An FTA objective is to identify potential barriers to adoption of such technologies – including a lack of public awareness about them.

Congressman Dent co-founded the bipartisan Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Caucus in 2005.