Fuel Cells failing to deliver Environmental Benefits

Posted on February 6, 2013

FORBES: 6th Feb 2013: Disappointed With Electric Cars? Automakers Are Making Bad Bet On Fuel Cells

Trouble, as always, is that there are some major speed-bumps on the way to fuel-free utopia.

First of all, there’s the gas. Hydrogen is plentiful, but it’s never found in a “free” state. It’s always part of a compound, as in H2O. Separating it from its partner requires energy, usually electricity.

Then, it has to be stored, and, because it’s lighter than air, it needs to be compressed or cryogenically tanked, again under massive pressure. All that compression to 10,000lbs/inch and freezing once again requires? … Anyone? You got it! ENERGY, again mostly electrical, and in fairly massive quantities. Thus, the hydrogen fuel cell, by the time the “fuel-free” vehicle hits the road with its massive wound carbon-fiber tanks, has already amassed a considerable carbon foot-print.

If the EPA uses the same calculation for fuel cells as for battery vehicles, whereby the energy used to charge the battery is counted and deducted from the mileage label, fuel cell vehicles would be rated at about 80 mpg. Not bad, but far less than a Chevrolet Volt, and at a much higher cost.