The US Department of Energy announced this week it is awarding $7 million dollars to promote improvements in hydrogen storage and distribution systems. These improvements will help lower the cost of infrastructure needed for fuel cell powered vehicles. In a press release, the DOE said such investment is “critical to the widespread commercialization of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.”
Hydrogen powered cars simply substitute a fuel cell for the battery found in electric cars. Extended range and rapid refueling time are two factors that strongly favor hydrogen powered cars.
But wait. Aren’t electric cars the wave of the future?
Maybe not. Toyota announced last week that it is switching its focus from electric cars to fuel cells. Honda already sells a fuel cell car in California, where it will soon be joined by Hyundai. Mercedes Benz is aggressively pursuing fuel cells. And just last week the Japanese government announced it is putting its full weigh behind making Japan the world’s fuel cell technology leader.
Currently the future of the automobile looks to be a mix of hybrids, plug in hybrids, electrics and fuel cells. Asian automakers are betting heavily on fuel cells, going so far as to forsake their early EV programs. American companies are betting more heavily on electrics, especially plug-in hybrids, while European manufacturers are hedging their bets and dabbling in a little bit of everything. Which technology prevails will largely depend on infrastructure; right now America has over 121,000 places you can buy gasoline but only 11 public hydrogen refilling locations, 10 of them in California.
An optimist would say the market for fuel cells and hydrogen energy has a lot of room for growth!
Source: Green Autoblog