12:41pm

Thu March 14, 2013
Science

Mid-State Researcher on the Final Leg of "No Gas" Cross-Country Drive

Dr. Cliff Ricketts at the wheel of a hydrogen burning Toyota sedan somewhere in New Mexico during his 2600 mile, coast-to-coast, alternative fuel experimental drive.
Dr. Cliff Ricketts at the wheel of a hydrogen burning Toyota sedan somewhere in New Mexico during his 2600 mile, coast-to-coast, alternative fuel experimental drive.
Credit mtsunews.com

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  A mid-state professor hopes to make history Thursday, capping 25 years of research.

Middle Tennessee State University’s Dr. Cliff Ricketts was crossing California’s Mojave Desert early Thursday morning on the final leg of his 2600 mile, no-gas, cross-country drive.

Ricketts and his team left the Georgia Coast this past Saturday driving modified Toyota sedans that run on hydrogen fuel. The hydrogen was separated from water using solar energy.

The journeys' final day will be a tense one for Dr. Ricketts. Problems with a pressure tank valve cost the team precious fuel.

“We’re gonna’ be really, really short, or close, on our fuel. And again, we’re using every strategy. We are…we’re probably one tank short.”

If the team can make their remaining hydrogen fuel last, they hope to reach the West Coast at Long Beach Thursday evening at around 4 p.m. (CST). Dr. Ricketts has a small celebration planned if he makes it to the Pacific.

“I will get out in the ocean and squall and yell and act silly for about 30 seconds, because I’ve worked on this for about 25 years.”

Dr. Ricketts is a professor of agriculture. He began his research into alternative fuels during the OPEC Oil Embargo of the mid-1970s. He was concerned at the time that skyrocketing fuel prices might keep farmers from harvesting their crops.