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Fuel Cells to Become a Viable Business Only 15 Years from Now


Vehicles based on hydrogen fuel cells are still 15 years away to becoming a viable business for manufacturers, informs Reuters. In the best case, the manufacturers will be able to sell only two million electric vehicles based on fuel cells until 2020, according to a study conducted by the National Research Council. This figure represents less than 1% of the cars located at that time on U.S. roads.

In 2003, president Bush has proposed to spend $1.2 billion to develop fuel cells. In 2005 the congress has requested the National Research Council to consider how many money would be needed from the federal budget for these cars to reach a significant percent until 2020.

General Motors, Honda Motor and other manufacturers have already started the tests of limited fleet of such vehicles.

The supporters of these cars see them as a solution for reducing oil consumption and CO2 emissions because fuel cells combine hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity. These cars only emit water vapors.

Another impediment to the development of fuel cells is the need for platinum, an expensive metal which represents 60% of the cost production of such cars. Still, there has been recently discovered a new method of making hydrogen fuel cells‘ PEM membrane of other materials than platinum.

The study shows that the best way to reduce oil consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in the next 20 years represents hybrid cars and gasoline consumption efficiency. The environmental movement also supports this idea.

Cars and light trucks consume 44% of the oil used in the American economy and produce over 20% of CO2 emissions.

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  1. Just came across this horrible article from 2008. This is exactly the kind of flawed thinking and reporting that led to Energy Secretary Chu cuts to the Hydrogen transportation budget. Of course 15 years is guaranteed to become 20 or more IF you stop the research funding today… Hello Mr. Research Scientist… anyone home?

    The flawed thinking here is the need for ME to remind you and all your readers that it was EXACTLY 10 years ago the FIRST Hybrid was sold in the U.S., the Honda Insight then the Prius shortly followed. Here it is… the same REUTERS source that says: “Hybrid cars sales in the US market are likely to cross 1 Million Mark by 2012.”


    So 1 million by 2012, my math says that is 13 years from the first sale, AND, they all run on GASOLINE… you know, the evil stuff we call “Foreign oil”? I do agree that Hybrids will accelerate and bring quicker fuel economy gains. However we still need to get off of OIL! Fuel cell cars ARE hybrids, and hydrogen will NOT be imported since you always make hydrogen locally and the cars are truly zero emissions. Honda just last year began the first leases of it’s new Clarity fuel cell car. So if we follow the Hybrid example, we DO have 15 years! And that’s a good thing, just like Hybrids. So bring it on.. and keep the hydrogen and fuel cell research funding so it really can be 15.


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