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Chu and the US government back fuel-cell vehicles again.

Back in 2009, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu stated during an interview that light-duty fuel cell-powered vehicles were in need of "a few miracles" to make them viable. Fast forward a few years and Chu has now completely turned around on his opinion of fuel cell vehicles thanks to abundant natural gas supplies in the United States. While the U.S. seemed to turn away from fuel cell vehicles, other countries continued forward. 
In the years between Chu turning his back on fuel-cell vehicles and his about-face, Germany, the UK, and Japan all made significant strides towards an infrastructure for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Now the American government is officially back on the fuel-cell vehicle and wagon.
The challenge now is to commercialize the technology as government funding for research and development of fuel-cell vehicles is reduced.
In July of 2012, the US Department of Energy announced a two-year program that would monitor and evaluate performance data on hydrogen infrastructure within the country. The earliest the program could kickoff would be 2013 with results likely not available until 2016. Pike Research reports that by 2016, car companies should have fleets of fuel-cell vehicles on the road, particularly in Europe and Asia Pacific.
Pike Research analyst Kerry-Ann Adamson writes that she fears Chu's about-face may actually delay the rollout of fuel-cell vehicles in the U.S. by focusing on research and development rather than commercialization. 
Adamson wrote, "Four years from now. By that time all the car companies should have fleets of fuel cell vehicles on the road, probably in Europe and Asia Pacific."
"So unless this about-face includes a realistic roadmap to commercialization that focuses on the market and not R&D, the Energy Secretary’s support could actually delay the roll-out of FCVs in the U.S."

Source: Pike Research

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By Arsynic on 8/14/2012 12:00:33 PM , Rating: 5
Democrats don't flip-flop. They evolve.

By Quadrillity on 8/14/2012 1:18:39 PM , Rating: 2
There is a difference between accepting new solid research, and changing your entire moral structure. If you want to use the most recent examples with Obama and homosexual marriage, you can clearly see that he doesn't give a damn about the morality of the situation, only the votes. And THAT is the very reason for ridicule.

Changing (or modifying) certain morals is to be expected; but to change your fundamental thinking to pander votes or public favor is what we are talking about here.

By the way, there is evidence for both a young and old earth. The false argument from both sides is that the opposition doesn't have evidence. Lets keep this on topic though.

By sgw2n5 on 8/14/2012 2:18:08 PM , Rating: 2
And what, pray tell, is the "evidence" for a young earth?

By ClownPuncher on 8/14/2012 3:50:48 PM , Rating: 2
Unicorns and ancient aliens.

By Jereb on 8/14/2012 8:11:48 PM , Rating: 2
I've got your Unicorn proof right here bucko!!

By kattanna on 8/15/2012 11:37:32 AM , Rating: 2
By web2dot0 on 8/14/2012 7:00:14 PM , Rating: 2
There's also "evidence" that Haulocast didn't exist, or moon landing is a scam, and climate change is BS.

I know ... we get your point .... or lack of it.

As long as it's the sound judgement, we should change our thinking based on sound evidence. Sticking to your dogma is for people who cannot evolve. Darwinism buddy. You snooze, you lose. Move aside and let the fitness survive.

Everyone thought the earth was flat until Galileo told us otherwise. It changed all fundamental principles in how we view the universe. Must be so shocking to you. That can't be right?!?!? Everything people believed in revolve around the fact that the earth is flat .... OMG, what are you gonna do?!?! Armageddon!!!!

By Quadrillity on 8/15/2012 12:10:38 AM , Rating: 2
No, everyone did not think the earth was flat and geocentric. Had people been reading the Bible, they would have known that the earth is indeed round, is suspended in a gravitational well, and revolves around the sun. All of that is written plain as day in scripture.

By rs2 on 8/15/2012 12:29:11 AM , Rating: 1
Proof, please.

By Quadrillity on 8/15/2012 12:20:54 PM , Rating: 2
Job 26:7
Isaiah 40:21-22

And here is a pretty good write up about geocentric and heliocentric theories (

The argument made by many is that "the Bible teaches geocentric theory". It absolutely does not teach that. But we are getting way off topic here.

By rs2 on 8/15/2012 8:23:39 PM , Rating: 2
Neither of those say anything that clearly supports a spherical world or a heliocentric solar system held together by momentum, inertia, and gravitational forces. And they certainly don't provide enough information of any sort to be said to "teach" anything.

The first says that the earth was "suspended" beneath the sky, and that it has nothing underneath it. Nevermind the fact that there's an entire hemisphere of universe "beneath" the Earth in any direction.

The second describes the earth as a circle, and circles are flat. They are round, yes, but still two-dimensional. The correct term to use is sphere. I certainly don't think one reference to the earth being circular is going to teach anyone that the planet is in fact a sphere.

And of course, a fair bit changes depending upon which translation you use.

By Quadrillity on 8/16/2012 11:34:16 AM , Rating: 2
Go back and read the passages in context, the scripture is definitely talking about the earth being suspended in the heavens (plural, there are several heavens). Also, circle is used at the English translation, if you go back and study the origin in Hebrew, you will find that the word used was ball or sphere. It's clear from context of scripture that the earth is a sphere, and it can be found in many passages throughout the Bible.

And yes, the Bible isn't meant to be a science book. It does, however, have very important pieces of knowledge throughout it. It even mentions the atomic particle. The Bible is full of science (

By maugrimtr on 8/15/2012 10:22:40 AM , Rating: 1
The bible says nothing of the sort. And even if it did, it would still be a creation myth since it doesn't provide any evidence in support of their Theory.

By bug77 on 8/14/2012 1:20:59 PM , Rating: 2
were in need of "a few miracles" to make them viable

As if batteries for conventional EVs were a sure thing back then... sheesh!

By Reclaimer77 on 8/14/2012 1:55:40 PM , Rating: 5
Yup just like Chu said he wanted $10 gas like in Europe, then when Obama started taking heat from high gas prices, claimed he changed his mind. Another evolution in thought!!

Just like Obama backed off from backing gay marriage, then when NC banned it and he felt safe by taking the now popular position, "evolved" and then supported it.

Of course you can only get away with this crap if you have a media that's basically nothing but stenographers who just repeats your BS without question.

By Reclaimer77 on 8/14/2012 7:13:35 PM , Rating: 4
You're either a total apologist, or ignorant.

He could have made his stand and stated his position at any time. Except Obama has NO leadership qualities, and will only say and do whatever is more likely to favor him politically.

So he waited until NC passed a marriage ban, and suddenly reversed his position to a hard "pro gay marriage" position to capitalize on the currently popular position and make him look better.

This is not a leader, this is a bureaucrat fishing for votes. Stating your opinion and your beliefs, and sticking to them, is NOT "picking a fight". It's being a man, and a leader.

By Ringold on 8/14/2012 11:10:04 PM , Rating: 3
Elections aren't about leadership, no matter how much the word is used. Elections, for the masses, are a popularity contest.

Obama's never "lead" anything in his life. Military veterans, they are often leaders. Certain legendary CEO's, they are leaders. Coaches are leaders. Teachers can be leaders. Most politicians, though, I doubt.

Especially in modern times.. Adam West and a few others, but there's not many Trumans, Eisenhowers, Jacksons or the like around any more.

By Dr of crap on 8/15/2012 9:30:14 AM , Rating: 2
I'm glad to see you understand the problem -

"Elections aren't about leadership, no matter how much the word is used. Elections, for the masses, are a popularity contest."

It baffles me that they ( meaning those in the political area ) think that they need every commerical on TV and radio to be about them, that there NEEDS to be a yard sign in every yard, and that the name you see the most is the one that wins!

It's just annoying crap that you have to tune out!!!

By Keeir on 8/14/2012 7:25:01 PM , Rating: 2

That pretty much sums this up.

Election year politics.

The only -real- winners with Fuel Cells are the companies that are selling you hydrogen by the tankful.

Notice that no money will be spent till after the election, and no significant amounts until 2016? Fah.

By Dorkyman on 8/15/2012 7:12:47 PM , Rating: 2
I guess that was supposed to be funny or clever or something.

Of course Repubs believe in evolution. We also want limited government and equality of opportunity (not equality of outcome). Clear enough for you?

By rs2 on 8/15/2012 10:25:03 PM , Rating: 2
If that's really what you want, then you should found a third party. The modern Republican party is no more in favor of limited government than the Democrats.

As for funny/clever, my post was no more or and no less funny/clever than the original post. It's basically the same joke, flipped around to make fun of the other side. What, you guys are happy to dish it out, but you can't take it? Because I call hypocrite on that.

By rdhood on 8/14/2012 1:01:16 PM , Rating: 2
The U.S. Government decides to push $45K electric vehicles (with rebates from taxpayers) to the exclusion of fuel cells. Then, a few years later, fuel cell technology is now viable with electric STILL struggling.

My prediction: in 20 years, electric will STILL be struggling, but fuel celled vehicles will rule the roads.

The U.S. Government places losing bets... over and over again. They lost on solar (new technology defeated bets on U.S. solar manufacturers like Solyndra). They lost (so far) on Fiskar and GM electric cars. They lost on U.S. made wind power plants.

THE MARKET will sort these things out. $4 a gallon gasoline does more for advancing new technologies than any choice by the U.S. government ever did. Of course, Stephen Chu knew this when he stated that gasoline needs to rise to $8-$10 a gallon. So while he recognized how the new technology would come about (higher energy prices), he failed utterly to see that the U.S. cannot artificially advance this agenda without crippling the economy (gasoline supply side) or choosing the wrong technology (GM Volt/Solyndra). Again, it is a case where the liberal agenda, with the best of intentions, failed in the marketplace. It is not that Chu and the Obama Administration had the wrong idea, it is simply that they lack the wisdom to see how to effectively enact those ideas without wasting billions and billions of taxpayer dollars.

By protomech on 8/14/2012 1:41:37 PM , Rating: 2
Uh, how cheap exactly do you imagine FCVs are? Define "now viable" in the context of FCV.

FCV may well rule the road in 20 years.. which will be somewhat ironic, as a FCV IS an EV. I bet most new vehicles will be BEVs, some with fixed fuel cell range extenders, some without.

"THE MARKET" bought SUVs because they were fashionable and gas was relatively cheap in the late 90s / early 00s. Then the market wept when gas prices spiked. Turns out the market makes some dumb decisions sometimes.

If you want to allow the market to make an informed decision, then give it predictable inputs. Eliminate existing subsidies to oil companies and existing taxes on fuel, and introduce a gradually increasing gas floor tax that keeps the national average fuel price pretty consistent over time (say $4/gal in 2013, $5/gal in 2014, $6/gal in 2015).

By Reclaimer77 on 8/14/2012 2:27:23 PM , Rating: 3
It is not that Chu and the Obama Administration had the wrong idea, it is simply that they lack the wisdom to see how to effectively enact those ideas without wasting billions and billions of taxpayer dollars.

Obama is a Statist. In his mind the only solution to something is a Big Government one. If, in fact, it's even a "problem" in this first place.

By rs2 on 8/15/2012 12:37:03 AM , Rating: 2
So every venture that the government backs must succeed, or it follows that the government cannot successfully back any venture?

You do realize that without a government funded program there'd be no Internet for you to sit around and pontificate on about how the government can never do anything right?

Investing in new technologies always involves an element of speculation and risk. And for every 10 ideas that come up about 9 of them will end as failures. But to focus on the failures misses the point. The point of backing new technologies is that when you do hit upon that one that succeeds, there's no telling how huge it can become. Sometimes you get a Solyndra, and sometimes you get an Internet. And the rewards for finding the latter offset the minor inconvenience caused by the former by several orders of magnitude, at least.

By relztes on 8/16/2012 10:05:46 PM , Rating: 2
They lost on U.S. made wind power plants.
According to the Department of Energy, domestic sourcing of wind turbine equipment has gone from 35% in 2005 to 67% in 2011. Source:
The U.S. Government places losing bets... over and over again.
In a loan guarantee program, you expect a certain fraction of losing bets. If they were all 100% solid bets, they wouldn't need loan guarantees. I'm pretty uninformed about this, but Solyndra did seem to have a lot of political connections. That may not have been proper. But the fact that a few loans defaulted is not proof that the program is a failure. First Solar and Sunpower are two US solar companies that have been doing better than most of their peers lately, so it's not all bad for US solar companies.
THE MARKET will sort these things out.
The market can only sort out what gets priced in. Right now, scarcity is partially priced in (although with OPEC I don't think oil qualifies as a truly free market). Carbon dioxide and pollution, however, are not priced in. If the market gets us away from fossil fuels in time to avoid the worst of global warming, it will be due to luck, not a rational response to the costs of carbon dioxide. With the natural gas boom, the technological feasibility of gasoline from natural gas could put a cap on gas prices. Then what?

In my opinion, the best solution would be a carbon tax to internalize the costs of global warming, as well as a pollution tax to address the health effects of the dirtier fuels like coal. With these in place, many of the subsidies for low carbon technologies wouldn't be needed anymore, and the market could function pretty well. We'd probably still want to invest in technologies that are too far off to attract commercial investment today. We might still want to provide subsidies to new industries in their infancy, but we'd be able to phase them out much sooner and at a lower total cost if the big externalities were priced into the market.

Fuel cell vehicles were always a fraud
By johnsmith9875 on 8/14/2012 4:17:34 PM , Rating: 2
The whole concept was pushed by the oil industry to make us waste research dollars and keep us on gasoline for the next 100 years.

Fuel cells will never be practical or cheap enough to work in an automobile unless we find some new technology in a crashed spaceship.

Battery powered cars are the future and are already here, the problem is a powerful oil industry and a powerful auto industry, neither of which want to retool or remake their existing infrastructure.

RE: Fuel cell vehicles were always a fraud
By Dr of crap on 8/15/2012 9:38:42 AM , Rating: 2
REALLY - you see battery power being more useful then just getting grandma around town to by a few things at the store and then going home.

Battery power only has a place in that context. It will not replace the gas engine, it can't.

By senecarr on 8/15/2012 1:43:54 PM , Rating: 2
It just has to have the infrastructure and chemistry to charge it rapidly, or hold a high enough charge not to matter.
Currently, the Tesla Sedan is rated for up to 300 miles (it can go probably go further given idealic circumstances). There are proposed recharageable batteries out there with 10x the capacity of the lithium batteries used in EVs. At 3000 miles, it doesn't matter if it has to charge over night, even at 70mph, you'd have 42 hours of driving, which you shouldn't have without sleep anyway.

Go west, young man...go west!!!
By DNAgent on 8/14/2012 10:54:23 AM , Rating: 2
Now the American government is officially back on the fuel-cell vehicle and wagon.

In your fuel cell powered wagon!

Another battery
By ironargonaut on 8/14/2012 2:41:37 PM , Rating: 2
you could save a few steps and just burn the NG.

Otherwise, a fuel cell run on NG is just another form of battery with energy loss.

First what is the problem?
Not enough fuel sources? Than burn NG.

NG is highly explosive? How much energy will it cost to place it in fuel cell that is not?

Pollution? CO2? NG is clean to burn, unless you think CO2 is a pollutant. In which case you where does the carbon from a fuel cell go? How much energy is lost from prevent CO2 production?

Still doesn't make sense to me.

By DockScience on 8/14/2012 3:32:25 PM , Rating: 2
Once again, the government shows its "wisdom" in picking winners and losers.

The market will decide what power sources are best suited for automobiles, and when.

By tensor9 on 8/15/2012 2:35:41 AM , Rating: 1
Ugh, the free market fetishists make my sick. "gumnt sucks. free murket roolz!!!" Idiots.

Anyway, as was posted, batteries are where it's going to be. Quick and/or inductive road recharging and battery capacity should be the focus.

Hydrogen fuel cells will require hydrogen gas, which is energy intensive to produce, whether it be from water or hydrocarbons. And even IF we found a wonderfully cheap water water oxidation catalyst (it turns out the main roadblock in water electrolysis is the oxidation, not the reduction catalyst) and got the energy input from abundant renewables like solar and wind, we'd still have to transport the shit around. As a chemist, hydrogen storage materials such as metal organic frameworks will be never be worth anything. The only way is to pressurize/liquefy it which require even more energy and is difficult to transport.

Companies would love to have another commodity to control, to guarantee themselves a supply of customers, but I just don't think it's the best route.

It's about time.
By Oakley516 on 8/14/12, Rating: -1
RE: It's about time.
By FITCamaro on 8/14/12, Rating: -1
RE: It's about time.
By danjw1 on 8/14/2012 11:39:30 AM , Rating: 3
Fuel cell vehicles are electric vehicles. They just use fuel cells to generate the electricity.

The right move
By gamerk2 on 8/14/12, Rating: -1
RE: The right move
By MrBungle123 on 8/14/2012 10:58:53 AM , Rating: 3
H2-O2 fuel cells got us to the moon and back again, and are basically proven tech. Ideally, one could insert water, filter out the impurities, separate the H2 from the O2, and use that to power the fuel cell.

That would make the car a perpetual motion machine. It will take more energy to separate the Hydrogen and Oxygen then you will get from recombining them in the fuel cell. Unless we can find a way of mining/collecting huge quantities of free hyrdrogen H2 + O + Fuel Cell is effectively just another form of battery.

RE: The right move
By Quadrillity on 8/14/2012 11:22:00 AM , Rating: 2
That's where mass algae farms come in. There are literally hundreds of potential sources for hydrolysis right now, but I think algae has the most potential.

RE: The right move
By Ammohunt on 8/14/2012 1:42:40 PM , Rating: 2
um it can be produced cheaply as a product of nuclear fission power plants.

RE: The right move
By theapparition on 8/14/2012 11:06:41 AM , Rating: 3
It takes more energy to separate water than you can get out of combining them, inefficiency and all.

Makes about as much sense as taking raw hydrocarbons, spending tons of energy to synthesize oil and gas only to then burn it to get less energy.

You can centralize the production of hydrogen/oxygen by electrolysis, but the energy to do that has to come from somewhere. Which leads us back to either non-renewable resources (coal, nat gas, shale), semi-renewable (nuclear), or pipe dream renewable (solar, wind).

RE: The right move
By Lord 666 on 8/14/2012 1:41:21 PM , Rating: 2
Moot point if the energy is coming from solar panels.

Good example; Honda's design from 2005 taking natural gas and adding solar energy to create hydrogen fuel cell juice with a by-product of water. Can even argue this might be a sustainable way of providing localized drinking water with the proper purification.

RE: The right move
By ironargonaut on 8/14/2012 2:33:17 PM , Rating: 2
Why not just burn the natural gas? Not to mention since NG has carbon where did that by product go? You can't take a compound with C in it and only have the by product of H2O.

RE: The right move
By theapparition on 8/15/2012 11:22:56 AM , Rating: 2
You can't take a compound with C in it and only have the by product of H2O.

You silly. It's obviously carbonated soda water. Add in those flavor syrups and you can have a fountain drink dispenser right in the dash.

RE: The right move
By SAnderson on 8/14/2012 12:09:27 PM , Rating: 2
The main downside mentioned is there for changing the main fuel source from gasoline to another different source. We have to pick one and go for it.

RE: The right move
By Motoman on 8/14/2012 12:29:45 PM , Rating: 2
Getting the hydrogen is a bigger problem than the other issues you listed. It requires a massive amount of power to split it from water, or whatever else you're using. And then of course you have to transport/distribute the stuff - and it's ridiculously explosive.

Long-term we need to both fix our electrical grid (a $1 trillion project in and of itself) anyway...probably add some nuke plants, and someday EVs and certainly hybrids will be large factors in the personal vehicle market. Not now...but someday.

We also need to invest heavily in biofuels...ones that make sense, utterly unlike any of the current ethanol production models that are all as retarded as installing an air conditioner in your igloo at the north pole.

...and by the way, the very fact that you think you're going to just pour water into a car and have some sort of on-board system pull the hydrogen out of it to burn as fuel is ridiculously laughable.

RE: The right move
By Quadrillity on 8/14/2012 12:57:54 PM , Rating: 2
And then of course you have to transport/distribute the stuff - and it's ridiculously explosive

I hope that there would eventually be a market for home production and storage. If you combine several technologies and methods, you have enough to run your average commuter vehicle. Granted, it is extremely expensive right now, but we can still hope that research and adoption isn't purposefully suppressed.

RE: The right move
By theArchMichael on 8/14/2012 1:46:12 PM , Rating: 1
the very fact that you think you're going to just pour water into a car and have some sort of on-board system pull the hydrogen out of it to burn as fuel is ridiculously laughable.

Laughable or forward thinking?

Maybe someday using tech like this we can generate hydrogen in a machine in our garages, and then later that can be incorporated directly into the car's fuel system (making it for all intents and purposes a "digestive" system).

RE: The right move
By Motoman on 8/14/2012 2:01:08 PM , Rating: 1
Still laughable. That process isn't going to produce hydrogen in real-time in the volume needed to power a car...certainly not in a form factor that would actually fit into a car.

RE: The right move
RE: The right move
By titanmiller on 8/14/2012 12:31:38 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think you understand how this works. You can't just put water in the tank and then magically get H2 and O2 from the water. It takes energy to separate the hydrogen from the oxygen. Energy is then released when they are recombined. No free lunch here.

RE: The right move
By bah12 on 8/14/2012 3:56:43 PM , Rating: 2
It's much more effective to just burn the natural gas. Most of the hydrogen in production today comes from natural gas (even the article alludes to it). So why in the world would you want to REDUCE efficiency vs. just burning it in an ICE?

RE: The right move
By PaFromFL on 8/15/2012 8:32:14 AM , Rating: 2
I smell bribe money from the over-producing shale natural gas industry. They are currently driving down the price of natural gas along with their profits, and hope to get some laws passed that will increase natural gas consumption. Then the price will rapidly rise.

Until they find a way to compactly store hydrogen or convert natural gas to hydrogen on the fly, you won't be able to drive very far on one tank (unless it is an extremely large tank). Note that a compressed or liquid natural gas tank will probably be more expensive and heavier than a gasoline tank. And LNG is 20 percent less energy dense than gasoline, and must be compressed at some point. CNG is 70 percent less energy dense.

At some point, alternative energy sources will get taxed to replace revenue from gasoline taxes.

RE: The right move
By bupkus on 8/15/2012 2:14:15 PM , Rating: 1
Solar too unreliable for driving (no way to store excess).
How about reverse hydro-electric?

As simple as using unneeded solar energy and storing it into potential energy. One example-- pump the water back behind the damn.

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