Middle Tennessee State University alternative fuels researcher Dr. Cliff Ricketts has reached a career goal. He made a 2600 mile journey to California with no gas!
Ricketts a longtime agriculture faculty member and 35-year alternative fuels researcher, completed a 2,600-mile journey without using any gasoline. It’s possible he may be the first person ever to achieve this feat.
For fuel, the Prius and a 1994 Toyota Tercel use hydrogen from water separated by sun (solar), all produced on
the MTSU campus.
Ricketts, 64, arrived in Long Beach, Calif., on the afternoon of Thursday, March 14.
Ricketts stated on Wednesday, “There’s a lot of research going, a lot of strategy. (If) we make one mistake, we’re shut down,” he said just before passing the Continental Divide.
A prime example of what he was talking about occurred Wednesday morning in Santa Rosa, N.M., In refueling their cars before the day began, pressure from the hydrogen tanks making the trip made the valves ice over.
“The valves freeze over due to exothermic reaction,” he said. “If we had not backed off and filled really slowly, it could’ve damaged one of the cutoff valves.”
The quest began March 9 as the group began at the shores of the Atlantic Ocean at Tybee Island, Ga. The drive has passed through Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico along the way.
Ricketts’ trip comes at a time when gas prices rose significantly in February, passing $5 a gallon for regular in several states. As of March 13, AAA said the national average was $3.71 for a gallon of regular gas.
Not because his name is attached to the project but Ricketts said this research has greater world, economic and environmental implications than putting a man on the moon.
“If you were to ask me which is more significant to mankind, putting a man on the moon or driving coast to coast in five days with the sun and hydrogen from water as the only fuel sources, I believe the latter is more significant. … This has environmental implications, economic implications and world peace implications.”
Brentwood, Tenn.-based Tractor Supply Company, the MTSU Office of Research and Louisville, Ky.-based Farm Credit Services of Mid-America are the primary sources of Ricketts’ 2012-13 funding. TSC contributed $25,000; the research office provided $12,500.
MTSU News and Media Relations