Originally created 06/17/04

Post office to test fuel cell vehicle



WASHINGTON -- The Postal Service said Tuesday it will begin testing a fuel-cell powered vehicle in the Washington area.

The agency said it is leasing a General Motors minivan with a fuel-cell powered engine to test its use as a delivery vehicle.

Fuel cells run on the energy produced when hydrogen and oxygen are mixed, rather than using gasoline. The only byproduct of a fuel cell is water.

The post office said the van will go into use in September. Shell Hydrogen will provide hydrogen for the vehicle.

"The ever-increasing cost of fuel and the need to protect our environment highlights the need to move forward with this initiative," said Thomas G. Day, postal vice president for engineering. "We are delighted to add this vehicle to the 30,000 alternative fuel vehicles already delivering the mail."

Of more than 200,000 mail delivery vehicles in use by the post office, 33,973 use alternative fuels rather than gasoline. These include 6,439 running on compressed natural gas, 28 electric trucks, 35 liquefied petroleum gas vehicles and 27,471 powered by ethanol, a form of alcohol.

On the Net:

U.S. Postal Service: http://www.usps.com