by Mike Masnick

Why Fuel Cells Aren't Likely To Show Up For A While

from the blame-the-government dept

SF Gate is running an interesting opinion piece that basically blames the government for not pushing fuel cell research ahead, suggesting (of course) that this is due to their current association with the big oil companies who would prefer not to see hydrogen fuel-cell powered cars taking away their business. It's an interesting article, and I don't know enough about what's happened in this area to know how much of it is based on fact, and how much on opinion. It does appear that the government has only given a token amount towards such research. I do wonder, however, if the technology really is so much better, if it will really need such federal support - or if it can be brought to market by the companies themselves. I would be interested, though, in opinions on this subject, or pointers to sites with more information.

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  • identicon
    Jared, 24 Jun 2002 @ 7:02am

    Problems, Mismanagement

    Several companies have attempted to market and develop the product unsuccessfully. The problem is that this is still plagued by inefficiency, fuel storage and repleneshment. Meaning: does anyone honestly think that storing H2 in a conventional tank in the trunk is safe? How do you refuel these things? There's no infrastructure (gas pump analogs). And, finally the performance on them severly limits application and range. Do you spend more on the fuel cell or the motor? You'll trade between power and range. All in all, there are technical challenges (which the government addresses as it always has) as well as industrial demand. The demand must be in place because the support infrastructure for the automotive industry is truly immense. That is something only business/consumers can decide.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2002 @ 8:17am

    People hate change

    I think the biggest issue is that people hate change. They don't understand how a different technology could work and won't change. People were scared of cars when they first came out. Go to dumblaws.com and check out some of the law on the books related to cars.

    The other question is where do you fill these cars up? No one is going to drive these things until there's pleny of refueling stations. Companies are not going to build fueling stations until there are more cars. It's a catch-22. Look at diesel. It's been around for some time but you still can get diesel at most gas stations.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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