LODI — If hydrogen-fueled cars and trucks are the wave of the future, this Bergen County borough will be a proud first: the first in New Jersey to approve installation of a hydrogen gas dispensing station for vehicle owners dealing with a fuel cell low on juice.

Hydrogen fueling station in Hawaii (Photo provided by Mike Strizki, Hydrogen House Project)

There are dozens of these stations throughout the country — mostly in California — but zero in the Garden State. It's expected the Northeast is the next target for these stations that combine hydrogen and oxygen to generate power. Hydrogen-powered vehicles are considered electric, but don't need to be plugged in for hours. Instead, a "fill-up" would take minutes.

Lodi's hydrogen fuel station will set up shop in the months ahead at an existing Shell gas station on Essex Street. The proposal was approved by zoning officials at the end of February.

"New Jersey is a corridor state, so if you were to put five stations in New Jersey, you could cover the whole length of the state where people would be able to get to a refueling station," said Mike Strizki, president of Hydrogen House Project, a nonprofit in Hopewell.

Strizki described fuel cell vehicles as "the next generation," likening them to cell phones in favor of landlines. Water is the only emission.

"And hydrogen is 80 percent of every molecule in the universe so it can be made from everything," he added.

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are not currently sold in New Jersey. Dealerships in California are selling the Mirai, Toyota's fuel cell car.

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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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