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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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By WoWCow on 6/28/2010 2:37:56 AM , Rating: 2
Of what I know, we need electricity to make hydrogen from H20 and hydrogen to make more electricity.

For those who don't know this already, H20 is water.

Now, can those just be ANY water? (AKA Ocean) or do they have to be fresh water?

I sure as hell don't want any developments causing cities to all end up like LA (where the city must drain necessities such as water and electricity from other cities/states). Or drain water excessively that would speed up the draining of well water in states such as Kansas; in which this wet rock we live on becomes a barren rock.

Course, it could also mean the end of free water at American restaurants (I do not know if water is charged elsewhere).

RE: Curious
By shin0bi272 on 6/28/2010 6:33:07 AM , Rating: 2
electrolysis usually requires salt water (or at least some form of electrolyte) but the main source of hydrogen currently is natural gas since water is much harder to split than gas and you get far less hydrogen out of water as well.

RE: Curious
By nvalhalla on 6/28/2010 8:09:29 AM , Rating: 2
No, H20 is some impossibly large 20 atom Hydrogen molecule. H2O, on the other hand is 2 parts hydrogen and 1 part oxygen. Why do people substitute 0 for O, and why do they think no one notices? Maybe we need a better default font to use on the internet, something that puts a dot in 0s.

RE: Curious
By monkeyman1140 on 6/28/2010 3:10:08 PM , Rating: 2
There's actually plenty of water on the planet. Its just that there's a shortage of fresh drinkable water.

Electrolysis is a highly inefficient process, and they still haven't cracked the problem which is excessive heat generation. Waste heat builds up and the water boils off which isn't what you want. Then you have to collect and liqueify the hydrogen, which takes even more energy. Hydrogen loves to leak out of nearly anything because the atoms are so small. Designing an inexpensive tank to hold hydrogen is an engineering challenge, and cryogenic storage is just plain out of the question.

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