Article Page | Addressing the Fuel Cell Naysayers
Wednesday, September 20, 2017          10:38 am EST  

Addressing the Fuel Cell Naysayers

Author: Grant Millin

The recent news from California Fuel Cell Partnership of their plan to deploy hydrogen refueling stations received many of the typical negative comments to the promise of fuel cells and the hydrogen medium. The standard fuel cell and hydrogen criticisms are easily refuted. Technology commercialization curves have upfront higher costs, and then, as with IT, the efficiency of the given technology increases and costs drop, or at least remaining relatively constant as the product efficiency still rises.

The questions of why fuel cells work; and how the feedstock systems for a fuel cell car, truck, bus or light rail train work; and what the point of it all is, needs to be addressed before lay persons make sure they have killed off this climate change technology solution. Climate change technology solutions are often premium environmentally preferred solutions. Yes, the cost of solar coming more into line with coal on a per kilowatt basis is great; but a viable solar car is unlikely. A world of battery plug-in hybrid vehicles does not cut GHG emissions enough, nor does a world of PHEVs + biofuel cars alone. And certainly replacing the global demand of all our currently estimated as well as near future personal vehicle needs with PHEVs, biofuel and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (HFCV) means a lot of natural resources going into transportation systems that facilitate a way of thinking we can't really cope with any longer. Mass transit in additional to fundamental urban and rural system redesign is needed as well.

The next thing to realize about HFCVs is that the refueling stations get the hydrogen from our existing natural gas infrastructure and water (H20 when necessary and prudent). US natural gas infrastructure exists mostly in urban and semi-urban regions, so some use of water electrolysis and waste-to-energy H2 production is needed. Some h2 refueling stations use both NG and water as feedstock, as H2 is a byproduct of many materials and fuels already existing in modern civilization. How to power these H2 refueling units (H2RU)? Solar and wind can supplement H2RU energy for H2 production as well, but H2RUs are going up alongside sewage treatment plants that are extracting methane (the basic element in natural gas and a byproduct of much of our waste) using Smart Grid fuel cells.

The range, versatility and tighter fueling process loop make fuel cell vehicles competitive to battery-only, hybrid and biofuel transportation solutions. Fuel cell vehicles use batteries, however these are the only vehicles that can also obtain their energy source from a wide range of feedstocks. HFCVs can 'plug in' for Smart Grid (vehicle-to-grid) applications the same way as PHEVs.

HFCV deployment only requires a few additional technology commercialization steps to become a normal part of modern civilization. If naysayers can prove why stationary fuel cells are not providing Smart Grid environmentally preferred power now; and why HFCV deployment isn't ready to go, then prove it. Thousands of scientists, engineers, vehicle and power systems CEOs can be brought together to tell the true story of fuel cells and their fueling technologies.


Grant Millin

Location Tags: EarthSync Monitor | Op/Ed
Global | United States, of America (USA) | California

Associated Tags: climate change, earthsync, nick chapman, nickchapman, test, fuel cells, naysayers. hydrogen, opportunity fuels, California Fuel Cell Partnership, technolgy commercialization

Updated on 06/29/2009

© 2008 -2017 EarthSync, LLC. | Privacy Policy