Cliff Ricketts of Middle Tennessee State University says his five-day, 2,600-mile journey will be fueled by hydrogen from water separated by solar power, all produced on the MTSU campus in Murfreesboro.
"We're showing how America could be energy independent if the need arises," Ricketts said in a university release Thursday.
"Hydrogen can be made from natural gas," he said. "[But] our hydrogen comes from water. With hydrogen, everything's natural. The solar is all natural and it's sustaining."
Most of the route Ricketts and backup driver Terry Young will be driving in two Toyotas -- a 1994 Tercel and a 2005 Prius -- is on Interstate 40 through Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.
The vehicles will be refueled at night from hydrogen tanks in accompanying separate vehicles because hydrogen is not available everywhere, he said.
"If you were to ask me which is more significant to mankind, putting a man on the moon or driving coast to coast in five days with the sun and hydrogen from water as the only fuel sources," Rickets said, "I believe the latter is more significant.
"This has environmental implications, economic implications and world peace implications."