A lot of emphasis is placed on batteries for electric vehicles, but fuel cells are another means of producing electricity that will get more attention as the technology develops further. Fuel cells offer efficient conversion of fuel to electricity. They also offer a way of combining electric drive with a system that can use portable fuels, and that may be able to overcome the "range anxiety" that is one of the obstacles to further acceptance of electric vehicles.
The good folks at Car Talk pointed us to their article about fuel cells covering both automotive fuel cells, as well as stationary fuel cells used in industrial settings. The US Department of Energy has a lot of programs dealing with fuel cells, and research is certainly moving ahead in this field in both the private and public sectors. Expect to see more about fuel cells in the coming years.
The Honda FCX Clarity, GM's Project Driveway and the Mercedes Benz F-Cell Hydrogen Electric Drive pilot programs are some of the first steps to fuel cell vehicles. But because of the very limited number of hydrogen fueling stations, hydrogen fuel cell vehicle drivers must also have their own "range anxiety" to contend with. While we usually think of fuel cells using hydrogen, other fuels such as methanol and natural gas can also be used in fuel cells. Compressed natural gas is more widely available than hydrogen, but it still takes some searching to find.
written by Martin, May 22, 2012
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