The BYU Harold B. Lee Library Digital Collections features a May 18, 1972 photograph of Roger Billings and his team working on a hydrogen car. The library provides a high resolution zooming capability to get an up close look at this moment.
This Volkswagen, converted to hydrogen by a Brigham Young University team headed by Roger Billings, won first place for emissions in the “Urban Vehicle Design Competition” at the General Motors Proving Grounds in Ann Arbor, MI.
The Contest marked a milestone in eliminating nitrogen oxide from the exhaust. As reported by the press, “The air that comes out of the engine is cleaner than the air that goes in.”
The ‘Clean Car’ — This Engine Might Stall in L.A. Air — An automobile engine that reportedly cleans the air as it operates was demonstrated at Brigham Young University by its student inventor.
– Los Angeles Times
May 20, 1972
The conversion of this Model A Ford to run on hydrogen – Roger Billings’ high school science fair project – was a pivotal event to finally launch the sustained interest in and development of hydrogen for private automotive use.
Although the Model A was a successful proof of concept, much work still remained to be done to harness hydrogen for clean, safe, reliable, transportation.
Roger set to work on solving the inherent hydrogen combustion problems, launching his career as a hydrogen energy pioneer.
What a triumph that this individual man has been able to do what has escaped the ability of the world’s large corporations – to actualize an effective contribution to the most important area of all, the economically acceptable application of hydrogen to automotive transportation.
– J. O’M Bockris
Distinguished Professor of Chemistry
Texas A&M University