FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Friday, May 13, 2005

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars "Several Decades" Away, Say Researchers

Research to be published in the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Journal suggests that dauting technical challenges in developing hydroven fuel-cell cars may take "several decades" to solve.

With current technology, fuel cells wear out five times faster than combustion engines. High material costs additionally make fuel-cell cars cost-prohibitive. Plus, there's the whole issue of a hydrogen delivery infratructure to consider. "A fuel-cell car built with today's technology would cost about $250,000, but you would have no place to fill up the tank," says Rakesh Agrawal, a Purdue University professor of chemical engineering, and a co-author of the article.

The article also warns that producting hydrogen in vast quantities could cause the very environmental problems that hydrogen fuel cells are supposed to alleviate. One source of hydrogen is coal, which presents its own set of enviromental challenges.

Agrawal believes that the problems are solvable, but that they'll just take time. "An optimistic prediction would be that a significant number hydrogen fuel cell cars will be entering the marketplace around 2020, and by 2050 everybody will be driving them."

Source: FuturePundit