updated 4/27/2004 4:49:56 PM ET 2004-04-27T20:49:56

The Energy Department announced $350 million in grants Tuesday to more than 130 research institutions and companies, including the Big Three automakers, to put hydrogen-fueled cars on the road by 2015.

The projects — which are worth $575 million with private funding — are aimed at removing some of the obstacles to developing the cleaner-burning technology for widespread use.

Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said the projects will address problems such as how to store hydrogen and how to make hydrogen fuel cells that are durable and affordable.

“It’s a very comprehensive program that has brought together for the first time the major energy and the major automotive companies of the world to work on this extremely important challenge,” Abraham said.

Hydrogen does not create any pollution or greenhouse gases. But unlike oil or coal, hydrogen must be produced — there are no natural stores of it waiting to be pumped or dug out of the ground.

Detroit’s Big Three automakers — General Motors, Ford and DaimlerChrysler — each will lead research teams, as will Texaco Energy Systems LLC and Air Products and Chemicals Inc.

Other companies chosen to take part in the projects include Shell Oil Products, BP and foreign automakers.

The grants represent nearly one-third of $1.2 billion that President Bush has pledged for hydrogen research. Most of the money will be distributed over five years.

“I think we can use technology and innovation to go beyond the false choices of the past,” Bush said Monday during a campaign stop in Minneapolis.

More information is online at http://energy.gov.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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