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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 eachus on 7/5/2010 5:20:36 PM , Rating: 2
Nuclear fuel reprocessing is very "dirty", and creates radioactive wastes. I don't know where people got this idea that nuclear fuel is clean, perhaps the atom worshippers in the GOP have trained their subjects well.

Or perhaps from people who know that not all nuclear power plants are alike. In particular Molten Salt Reactors use Thoruim for fuel, and except for the initial fuel load, do not need any enriched fuel. (Hmm. To explain, the Thorium-232 absorbs neutrons and becomes Uranium-233 which is the fission fuel. For startup, you can add some Plutonium-239 or enriched Uranium. So MSRs work for disposing of Plutonium-239 and other high-actinide wastes. In other words, they burn bomb materials and nuclear waste.)

Let's just bury this theory of clean nuclear for once and for all.

I would rather bury the idea of Clean Coal under all the radioactive materials that any coal burning plant produces. And it is enough to bury a lot of bodies. The main radioactive material is Potassium-39, but there is also a significant amount of Uranium-238 and 235 in fly ash.

Fly ash is not very radioactive, the problem is the amount of fly ash produced by a coal burning plant. (Yes most coal plants now have electrostatic precipitators to catch most of the fly ash, but it still needs to be disposed of.) There are also some gases like Radon, that are not trapped by the precipitators.

Oh, if you want to be against (liquid metal fast breeder reactors) LMFBRs or any sodium-cooled nuclear reactor type, fine by me. The amount of sodium in those scares me more than the nuclear parts. I do like all types of high-temperature gas cooled reactors (HTGRs). And I don't see anything wrong with Boiling Water Reactors (BWRs). Some people think pressurized water reactors (PWRs) are as safe as BWRs, but I remain unconvinced.

However, any new nuclear plants built in the US will be much safer than the existing plants, release less radiation and cost less to dismantle. That's not something particular to the nuclear industry, computerized design tools and numerically controlled milling machines have changed the way anything is built. The intent may be to reduce the amount of welding--which is a very high cost process--but it makes later disassembly much easier.

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