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The United States will lead the way

Pike Research, a market research and consulting firm that focuses on global clean technology markets, conducted a study that predicts 670,000 fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) will sell annually by 2020.

Some auto companies are still focusing their development on electric vehicles (EVs), and as many other surveys indicate, the growth of electric vehicles are expected to surpass fuel cell vehicles. However, Pike Research's study goes against the grain saying otherwise. According to the study, the U.S. will account for 134,049 annual FCV sales of the total 670,000, putting them in the lead for fuel cell vehicle sales. China will be in second place with 129,241 FCV sales and Germany will be in third place with 126,783 total annual sales.

Some believe these are "overly optimistic" results and that Pike Research is assuming that the appropriate refueling infrastructures will be available by 2020. According to fuel cell industry analyst Dave Hurst, "The entire growth of the fuel cell vehicle market balances on two key elements: the growth of hydrogen gas refueling stations and improvements in the cells themselves."

While improvements of fuel cells is in the works, the possible growth of hydrogen gas refueling stations is here. Currently, there is only one personal, zero-emission refueling station for FCV's that runs on sunshine and tap water. It's called a residential hydrogen refueler, and the only one that exists is hidden on the Torrance campus of Honda R&D. 

The residential hydrogen refueler uses a 6-kilowatt array of thin-film cell solar panels that "powers a machine the size of a mini-refrigerator," which then "sips in H20 and breaks it apart into hydrogen and oxygen gases." Next, the hydrogen is pumped into the vehicle right at home with no fossil fuels or pollution included.

Alternative Fuel Manager for American Honda Motor Co. Steve Ellis says that "the ability to refuel a vehicle at home ranks third among the values consumers see of owning an electric vehicle," and "saw the same possibility could exist for hydrogen."

The residential hydrogen refueler is 25 percent more energy efficient than the electrolysis system Honda designed in 2001, and instead of operating with a mechanical compressor or storage tanks, it'll only require solar panels that fit the size of an average American roof. In addition, the refueler can "support typical driving habits, about 10,000 miles per year." 

Honda says it could take about five years before consumer's will see these systems on the road. Manufacturers such as Daimler and Shell signed an agreement in September acknowledging this five-year prediction. In addition, General Motors, Honda, ToyotaMercedes and some other automakers have noted that they plan to sell FCV's to consumers as soon as 2015.

A five-year production goal and a potential growing infrastructure makes Pike Research's figures seem more reasonable.

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RE: I don't get this...
By MadMan007 on 6/27/2010 10:05:31 PM , Rating: 2
Not if people have a solar-powered 'home hydrolysis' fuel know, the device which a good portion of the article was about?

RE: I don't get this...
By Atheist Icon on 6/28/2010 12:39:20 AM , Rating: 3
And if you live far from the source of water supplied by your city, you still need electricity to get the water there, via pumps.

RE: I don't get this...
By Quadrillity on 6/28/2010 7:35:48 AM , Rating: 2
And if you live far from the source of water supplied by your city, you still need electricity to get the water there, via pumps.

Did you really just say that? So, in your mind, people who don't live in a city just haul buckets of water to their homes?

Please don't comment on a technology website if you don't have any common or technical sense (to have both is rare enough).

RE: I don't get this...
By martinrichards23 on 6/28/2010 8:07:19 AM , Rating: 2
Did you really just say that? So, in your mind, people who don't live in a city just haul buckets of water to their homes?

I'm sure he means people who live in places like Ethiopia, you know, those people who don't have water but do have hydrogen electric cars.

RE: I don't get this...
By SSDMaster on 6/28/2010 8:38:49 AM , Rating: 2
No he didn't mean that... Are you assuming that he's referring to a hand pump?
Hand pumps are not powered by electricity. -_-

RE: I don't get this...
By jwdR1 on 6/28/2010 9:44:27 AM , Rating: 2
Just a dumb question...

If I'm not mistaken, I believe one of the main byproducts of the fuel cell reaction is water. Why not capture the exhaust and reuse it? Then you only need to top off the refueler to replace losses due to evaporation, spills, etc.

Like I said...dumb question.

RE: I don't get this...
By Micronite on 6/28/2010 12:15:11 PM , Rating: 2
I love this big push to solar power. Pretty soon everyone is going to want some sort of solar installation only to find out that there's a serious lack of materials to build them with.
With the current solar technology, we couldn't sustain major manufacturing with the amount of rare-earth materials it takes.
I guess that's why we can hope for more technical advances in this area. I'd love to generate my own electricity.

RE: I don't get this...
By monkeyman1140 on 6/28/2010 3:12:37 PM , Rating: 2
They're already working on plastic solar panels. The days of needing pure silicon for photovoltaics are numbered.

Anyway photovoltaics aren't the best solar energy collection method, nor the cheapest. Good old trough collectors with heat collection tubes is more efficient.

"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher

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