The problem of commercializing fuel cells

The problem of commercializing fuel cells

May 10, 2012 0 By Stephen Vagus

Hydrogen Fuel Cells Infrastructure

Commercialization a goal for many fuel cell manufacturers

Fuel cell development is becoming increasingly important as the world begins to respond to concerns regarding the need for clean energy, economic troubles, and fears about the environment. There can be no doubt that fuel cells have become more popular than they were in previous years, but the energy systems still have a long way to go until they are considered ready for commercial application. Companies specializing in the development of hydrogen fuel cells have been making progress toward commercialization, but a great deal of work remains to be done.

Car manufacturers have been working on developing commercial fuel cells for years

The auto industry has been one of the most outspoken proponents of hydrogen fuel cells in recent years. Many car manufacturers believe that fuel cells are an ideal energy system that can help them make more environmentally friendly vehicles without sacrificing performance. These companies – Toyota, Daimler, and Hyundai included among them – have developed some of the world’s most innovative fuel cells. These systems, however, are still quite expensive, making their commercialization slightly unrealistic.

Affordable fuel cell manufacture believed to be the key to commercialization

One of the reasons fuel cells are so expensive is because they make use of costly materials, such as platinum. These materials are use for the fuel cell’s catalyst, which is an important component that enables fuel cells to produce electricity. Fuel cell developers have long insisted that catalysts must be made more inexpensive in order for fuel cells to be commercialized successfully. ACAL Energy, a leading developer of hydrogen fuel cells, may be able to serve as an example that other companies could follow.

ACAL Energy may be a prime example for other companies to follow

In 2008, ACAL energy developed its FlowCath hydrogen fuel cell system. The fuel cells comprising the system made use of a water-based catalyst that was able to facilitate the chemical processes required for fuel cells to generate electricity. This catalyst solution allowed ACAL to eliminate 80% of the platinum needed for its fuel cells, dropping the price of these energy systems by 25% or more. ACAL believes that creating more cost effective fuel cell catalysts may be the key to the commercialization of fuel cells.