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Summary:

If you’re holding out for a new fuel cell car to drive onto the hydrogen highway, you may have to wait a while. The Department of Energy in a new report says fuel cell costs are still too high and durability too low for the auto […]

If you’re holding out for a new fuel cell car to drive onto the hydrogen highway, you may have to wait a while. The Department of Energy in a new report says fuel cell costs are still too high and durability too low for the auto industry to meet the goal set out in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 of 100,000 hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicles by 2010.

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The DOE says designs would have to be locked in now in order for fuel cell cars to be manufactured in 2010, and that’s not likely to happen. The agency pointed to an independent study published last year that put the cost of an automotive fuel cell system at around $6,000, even with high-volume manufacturing — more than twice as expensive as internal combustion engines.

And you wouldn’t be able to keep that car for too long, either. Based on the highest demonstrated durability to date, the fuel cell systems would only be good for about 57,000 miles. Good luck getting a decent Blue Book value on that car.

The DOE has poured $1.2 billion into former President George W. Bush’s Hydrogen Fuel Initiative since 2004, and while some progress has been made, the agency said targets have slipped for hydrogen production and delivery systems — the core of any hydrogen highway.

Given the current state of the auto industry in the U.S., car companies are unlikely to put resources into something that isn’t going to pay off in the near term. Plug-in hybrid or full electric cars already have a national electric grid to plug into; hydrogen fuel cell cars do not.

And it looks like the chances of getting clean hydrogen production have gotten a bit slimmer, with R&D in renewable hydrogen production and delivery to be deferred in fiscal 2009. But R&D will continue in coal-based and nuclear-based hydrogen production.

Maybe the DOE should just scrap the whole Hydrogen Fuel Initiative and go talk to the folks at Blacklight Power. They seem to have it all figured out.

  1. That’s still half of what a good battery pack costs that would give the car the same range on a single charge. Fuel cells would be a great way to get people who are scared of the long charge times of electric cars(they’re getting shorter all the time though) into actually driving an electric car.

  2. $6,000 for a fool-cell? Dream on. Try more like $60,000.

  3. G.R.L. Cowan, H2 energy fan until ~1996 Thursday, February 5, 2009

    Oh my goodness, what an awful surprise. Did anyone see it coming?

    — G.R.L. Cowan (How fire can be domesticated)

  4. Hello,
    BlackLight Power inc.
    Their technology is based on a raney nickel cathalyst technology. Irving Langmuir used a similar technology with tungsten to get an energy level comparabel with the BacklLight Power Inc technology. Irving Langmuir a senior scientis at General Electric received his Nobel Prize in 1932. He found that using tungsten as a catalyst he could produce Atomic Hydrogen which when joined with an other Hydrogen atom released an enormes amount of energy in the process. This has been publiced by Nicholas Moller in his BooK “Irving Langmuir and Atomic Hydrogen”. Please read the abstract from the book before any reply. Langmuir had his process validated by Niels Bohr. Se also the process validation by Peter Jansson from Rowan University, which again bear out that the BlacLlight Power Inc process is valid.

    Looking forward to hear from anyone interest in this subject and the release of hydrogen using water.

    Lebirchan

    1. Dear Sir have spent the last 15 yrs on and off researching hydrogen cells .Also have designed an atomic hydrogen reactor , coupling it with an atomic hydrogen furnace and
      a steam turbine and closed cycle brayton turbine system.
      We need funding to build this and another system that produces electricity and water from the atmosphere.
      These products are billion dollar business once built replacing nuclear reactors. Also supplying water and electricity to poorer areas on the planet. If you can help in any way please contact us.
      Regards Greg Packer +610403159635

  5. A Lesson for Electric Car Makers in Hydrogen Vehicle’s Loss Thursday, May 14, 2009

    [...] fuel cells for electronics, and larger fuel cells for both backup power and vehicles.) In a DOE report earlier this year, the agency found that fuel cell costs are still too high and durability too low [...]

  6. Turning to Google, DOE Maps Out Alt-Fuel Vehicle Ecosystem Tuesday, June 9, 2009

    [...] you can see in the screen shots below, hydrogen fueling and electric charging stations barely mark the map, while biodiesel makes a stronger showing. But [...]

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