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Fuel Cells or Hydrogen Batteries – What’s In a Name

Bengt Halvorson of Green Car Reports published an article yesterday called, “Should Fuel Cells Have Been Called ‘Hydrogen Batteries’ Instead?” This article begs the question as to whether the name ‘hydrogen fuel cells’ is holding back the technology from being readily accepted by consumers.

One person who thinks so is former General Motors executive Larry Burns (and current University of Michigan professor). According to, Burns said, “If I could do one thing differently, I would never have uttered the word ‘fuel cell,’ I would have called it a hydrogen battery – just another battery! From the car’s standpoint, you’re driving on electricity, whether you’re taking it out of a battery or a fuel cell stack. You need similar power electronics; motors; it’s very quiet; there are no shift points.”

In Green Car Reports, Halvorson states, “Underscoring all of this is the issue of image, and Burns admits that the term makes the technology seem strange and suggests that as a reason it’s scared away investors. To speculate for the moment, ‘fuel cell’ might sound like it involves something dangerous and racing-related – or fossil-fuel-related – while batteries are now, to the vast majority, what we’re now used to in our smartphones, our tablets, and what we go to bed next to, safely.”

So, is a rose by any other name still a rose (paraphrasing Shakespeare)? Or would a new name for hydrogen fuel cells allow consumers to sleep well at night? You decide!


About Hydro Kevin Kantola

Hydro Kevin Kantola

I’m a hydrogen car blogger, editor and publisher interested in documenting the history and the progression of hydrogen cars, vehicles and infrastructure worldwide.

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