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The solar-hydrogen house took longer to complete than Strizki expected – a strict local zoning officer and the state permitting process caused delays, he says – but in October 2006, the system finally went online. The total cost, $500,000, was paid for in part with a $250,000 grant from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.

This is how it works

On sunny days, solar panels on the roof of Strizki's detached garage generate more than enough electricity to power his home. The excess electricity powers a device inside the garage called an electrolyzer, which transforms a tank of water into its base elements – oxygen and hydrogen.

The oxygen is released into the atmosphere, while the hydrogen is stored in 10 1,000-gallon propane tanks on Strizki's property. In the winter, when the solar panels collect less energy than the home needs, that hydrogen is piped to an air-conditioner-size fuel cell, located just outside the garage, which generates electricity.

The final piece of the equation is "The New Jersey Genesis," a hydrogen fuel-cell car Strizki helped design and now maintains for the New Jersey Department of Transportation. He can fill up the Genesis with hydrogen from his electrolyzer and drive it pollution free.

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