I’m always glad to see articles about hydrogen fuel cells that exceed expectations. The critics of hydrogen fuel cells say that they cost too much and are not durable enough.
First, the cost concerns are being addressed by researchers at Cornell University. Second, the durability concerns are being proven to of no concern at all in Northern California.
According to Cornell University, “Tests show that the new material works with fuel that contains as much as 2 percent CO, losing only 5 percent efficiency compared with a 30 percent drop in efficiency for conventional platinum catalysts. The material is also more stable and less expensive than pure platinum.”
In regard to the durability of hydrogen fuel cells, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Department of Energy (DOE) that have been testing fuel cell buses in northern California since 2000 and have come out with some promising numbers for performance in the latest round of fuel cells in the AC Transit buses.
According to the NREL, “As of June 2010, two of the fuel cell systems have accumulated a record number of hours without requiring repair or replacement of single fuel cells or cell stacks – one bus accrued more than 7,000 hours, and another more than 6,000. And, the fuel cells continue to operate at rated power.”
For the hydrogen car sector, the DOE has set a target for fuel cells to achieve a maximum of 5,000 hours of operation. Now that we know that the target of lower cost and higher durability fuel cells is achievable, then we also can become more comfortable in believing that Toyota’s target of $50,000 hydrogen cars by 2015 is also an achievable goal.