PHOTO CAPTION: General Motors Equinox SUV fuel cell demonstrator, one of several in operation in Hawaii.

'Hydrogen Future' Gets A Second Look

While fuel cells powered by very pure hydrogen gas can solve some of the problems of battery electric cars, they also bring challenges of their own.

Published: 16-Feb-2013

“It is the fuel of the future—and always will be,” sceptics joke. And in recent years it was hard not to chuckle: fuel cells and other promising hydrogen technologies looked like they would remain little more than science-fair projects.

But a series of alliances suggests that things are looking up for the lightest of all elements. Carmakers are increasingly worried that building battery-powered cars will not be enough to meet tough emissions and fuel-economy standards. So hydrogen is once again gaining credibility—and the R&D dollars that could finally make it a reality.

Late last month, for instance, Toyota and BMW revealed plans to cooperate on hydrogen fuel cell research. Only days earlier Ford, Daimler and Nissan had announced they would team up in a push to bring their own fuel cell technology to market as early as 2017. “This technology has the biggest potential for emission-free driving,” said Thomas Weber, Daimler’s chief technologist.


Fraunhofer ISE solar-powered hydrogen fueling station.

The main components of the filling station are a 30 bar pressure electrolyser, a mechanical compressor for hydrogen compression to 700 bar.

Hydrogen refueling of Honda FCX prototype fuel cell car.

Hydrogen fuel can be produced at lower costs and at higher rates than ever before using this new CC-HOD catalyst.

Early engineering illustration of Ballard Fuel Cell-powered mining locomotive

Anglo American Platinum will test five of the hydrogen-fueled locomotives in its Amplats mines in South Africa.


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