Achieved connection UK: Fuel Cell Power No.17 Summer 2004 :: Future Energies :: The future of energy
Welcome to
Part of the Fuel Cell Network (UK)
Press return to search

Main Menu
· Home

· AvantGo
· Members List
· News
· Recommend Us
· Reviews
· Search
· Sections
· Topics
· Top List
· Web Links

Home energy price comparison service
The home energy price comparison service allows the domestic consumer to search all available UK electricity and gas prices quickly and simply online.

There are 8 unregistered users and 0 registered users on-line.

You can log-in or register for a user account here.

Solar news - business news
for the solar industry

Wanted Used vegetable/
cooking oils/

Passion for the planet
DAB digital radio,
in association with Future Energies

Property in Nice, France
- villas and apartments for sale from Nice's British-run agency

Contact Us for reliable UK
solar water heating

Join the experiment!

Education UK: Fuel Cell Power No.17 Summer 2004
Posted by on 2004-08-24 08:32:22
contributed by gfoat

A vehicle from the future drove through London this summer during its 6000 mile journey across 14 European countries. General Motors plans to provide mass produced hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles at a competitive price from 2010. For these vehicles to succeed in the UK we must lay the basis of a hydrogen infrastructure.


The automotive future is beginning at General Motors (GM), in the shape of the HydroGen3 fuel cell vehicle. The innovative engineering concept behind the five-seater vehicle, which is based on the Opel/Vauxhall Zafira, brings the large-scale production of the car of tomorrow a good deal nearer. The prototypes meet the main demands of the GM and Opel production-line experts and they have already shown their outstanding performance under stringent testing. General Motors has made an enormous commitment to fuel cell development, with over a billion dollars invested so far in four development centres which altogether employ 600 people in a programme entitled GM Fuel Cell Activities (GM FCA).

General Motors’ Fuel Cell

General Motors has selected the PEM fuel cell (Polymer Electrolyte Membrane) which works at temperatures of 80 to 90°C. The fuel cell unit is noted for its good cold-start characteristics. At a temperature of minus 20°C the full power is available after just 30 seconds – an important factor in the day-to-day use of fuel cell technology in cars. With its almost silent drive system, the fuel cell Zafira accelerates from zero to 100 km/h in around 16 seconds and has a maximum speed of 160 km/h.

The key factor for the economic viability and environmental compatibility of fuel cell vehicles is their efficiency, which is basically the energy yield of the drive system. At a speed of 100 km/h, the HydroGen3 has an efficiency of over 40 percent, which is well above the figure for a modern diesel vehicle. In the European test cycle, the HydroGen3 has an efficiency of 36 percent, whereas a direct injection diesel engine of the same power output achieves just 22 percent. And, importantly, it does so with zero CO2 emissions compared with 177g CO2 emissions per kilometer for the diesel.

The fuel cell stack, the electric motor and the ancillary units all fit under the front hood. The engineers have optimized the fuel cell system so that it can provide peak loads without the need for a buffer battery. Apart from saving weight, this advance has the advantage that the HydroGen3 has the full trunk space of 600 litres. The electrical traction system has also been subjected to continuing development and is now far more compact. The complete module, consisting of inverter, electric motor and transmission, with parking brake and differential, weighs only 92 kg in all.

High pressure v. liquid hydrogen tank systems

The high-pressure tank system of the HydroGen3 has a capacity of 77 litres which gives sufficient power to cover a distance of around 270 kms in the official European driving cycle, which is a simulated journey used to ascertain fuel consumption in urban driving conditions. The tank was developed in cooperation with the US Company, Quantum, and is noted for its seamless, hydrogen-impermeable inner shell, its high performance casing of carbon composite material and its patented protective armouring. This is the first time that hydrogen tanks pressurized to 700 bar (700 times atmospheric pressure) have been fully certified by the Technical Inspection Association (TÜV) according to the German guidelines for pressurized tanks. The TÜV test also takes into account the US industry standard and the draft that is being developed as the European Directive for hydrogen-propelled vehicles.

General Motors HydroGen3 fuel cell prototype, based on the Opel Zafira mini-van, set a new world endurance record for fuel cell vehicles this summer, when it left Hammerfest on the northern tip of Norway on 3rd May and travelled through twelve other European countries before arriving at Cabo da Roca in Portugal on the 11th June

Byron McCormick, Executive Director at GM FCA said that the hydrogen fuel cell is the key technology for sustainable personal mobility in the 21st century and this has been scientifically verified by the well-to-wheel study they commissioned. It is now a question of creating the technical, political and social framework to bring fuel cell vehicles to market and make them attractive for customers. The objective of General Motors is to sell fuel cell vehicles from 2010, aiming at a broad application, because this is the only way for the introduction of fuel cell vehicles to make a noticeable impact on safeguarding the environment and conserving energy resources.

A liquid hydrogen system is also in daily use for HydroGen3. A twin-wall liquid hydrogen tank has a capacity of 68 litres, which represents a driving distance of 400 kms in the European driving cycle for urban conditions. The inside of the tank is insulated against heat conduction from outside by a high vacuum between the outer and inner walls. Additional layers of thin aluminum foil also protect it against thermal radiation.

Hydrogen in the liquid state at very low temperature (-253oC) may be preferred by those requiring frequent operation, because it has a relatively high density, making for a larger operating range. However, due to the unavoidable incursion of heat into the tank over a period of time, a small amount of the hydrogen evaporates, which is of no significance if the vehicle is used every day, because the evaporated hydrogen can be utilized. After several days, some of the evaporated hydrogen is automatically released, so people who only drive occasionally may therefore prefer to use compressed hydrogen, because although the operating range of the vehicles is smaller, there are no evaporation losses. Refuelling takes less than five minutes at the world's first high-pressure hydrogen filling station of its kind at the Opel filling station in Germany. This can generate pressures of up to 850 bar and was developed in cooperation with the technology company, Linde.

Towards mass production

Despite all this progress, two important milestones must be reached before fuel cell vehicles appear in regular price lists. A full-coverage infrastructure is needed to supply the hydrogen, and the cost of the fuel cell system must be reduced. Based on an annual production of 100,000 units, the fuel cell technology today still costs ten times as much as a comparable combustion engine system. This is because some of the materials used in the fuel cell are very expensive, and because the technique used for storing the hydrogen on board and the production of individual components in the propulsion unit is too costly.

Dr. Martin Wöhr, a fuel cell expert with GM FCA in Germany, explains why such progress has not been achieved before and what is needed to resolve the remaining obstacles to volume production. The last ten years have seen key advances in the field of membrane technology that were essential for the production of the PEM fuel cell and over the next few years he expects new membrane materials and modified manufacturing processes to bring further progress with regard to the performance and service life of the fuel cell stacks which for the most part are still assembled by hand.

On top of this, today's high-speed computers allow the specialists to perform wide-ranging simulations of fuel cell systems and thus implement new stack designs faster. Other factors that encourage such progress are a better understanding of the catalytic processes occurring in the cell, new developments in the fields of surface technology and more efficient power electronics.

With the aid of such processes the GM engineers want to ensure that once hydrogen-powered cars begin to come off the production line, the buyer will not notice any difference from conventional vehicles as regards safety and comfort, nor as far as costs and driving performance are concerned. Nor should there be any difference in reliability and service life. Their big target, once the cars from GM and Opel begin to travel the roads in large numbers, is that the fuel cell stack should have a service life of at least 5,500 hours, which would represent a distance of around 160,000 kms.

Tough testing program across the globe Excellent reliability and durability were demonstrated in a mammoth test schedule completed by the fuel cell prototypes, which was basically the same as the schedule undertaken by conventional GM and Opel models with a combustion engine. During this comprehensive validation programme, the twenty or so fuel cell prototypes completed a total of 132 different testing schedules all over the world under all conceivable climatic conditions. They also had to complete a 24-hour trip at permanent top speed on the high-speed track at Opel's test site in Germany.

In the course of duty, they have visited Australia and China, they have crossed the hot deserts of Arizona and they have overcome fierce cloudbursts, bumpy cobbled streets and steep mountain passes in Italy and Switzerland. The vehicles were subjected to an endless number of ascents and descents from the 2,600 metre Mount Lemmon in Arizona and the 2,758 metre Stilfser Joch pass in the Alps.

Something completely different from this mountaineering tour was the low-temperature test package thought up for the HydroGen3 by the engineers at the research centre. Water is produced during the chemical reaction in the fuel cell and this is used to humidify the membranes and the aim of these wide-ranging tests was to find ways to prevent this water from freezing. Testing began with trials in the refrigeration chamber, in which the temperature was gradually reduced to -20°C. This was followed by extensive low-temperature testing, among other things at -15°C in the Swiss Alps. When driving over mountain passes with snow-covered roads, it became clear that the hydrogen Zafira was far superior to the escort vehicles, which also had front-wheel drive. Bernd Zerbe, who is responsible for these torturous tests at GM FCA in Germany, explained that with an electrical drive system it is far easier to finely control the torque with the accelerator pedal.

Travelling on average 300 miles per day, the HydroGen3 covered temperature extremes from near Arctic Circle conditions to the arid desert conditions of central Spain and steep mountain passes in the Alps. Here it is seen travelling from Salzburg to Turin.

Bernd Zerbe said that a particularly pleasing result of the trials was that no hydrogen leak whatsoever occurred. And what if it had? Even that would not have constituted an unusual hazard potential for the HydroGen3 drivers or the environment. The team decided to prove it in a number of hydrogen release and ignition tests. An extreme situation was simulated in a closed mountain tunnel in Norway when large quantities of hydrogen were allowed to escape from the tank of a fuel cell vehicle.

The big question was, could an explosion happen, either immediately after the gas began seeping out or 15 minutes later? The result in both cases was that no ignitable mixture was formed. Bernd Zerbe said that this is also the case in a tunnel with no additional ventilation, because the natural air flow is always high enough. The reason is that, unlike gasoline vapours that accumulate on the ground, hydrogen is highly volatile and disperses extremely fast because it is 14 times lighter than air. As yet, no set of legal regulations for fuel cell vehicles exists, so the safety experts at GM FCA have drawn up their own catalogue to assess the effects that a possible fault would cause – for example in the vehicle hall of a fleet operator or in a garage at home.

Their conclusion, after many tests, simulations and calculations, was that although the safety and process technology is different from gasoline, the hazard potential is no greater.

The latest generation of fuel cell vehicles are currently proving their high technical maturity in tough day-to-day use. Since summer 2003, a HydroGen3 has been out on the road every day in Tokyo as a FedEx delivery vehicle. Six other HydroGen3 vehicles are based in the US capital of Washington either running errands in the city traffic or carrying out demonstration trips throughout the country. From the end of 2004, a HydroGen3 vehicle will be deployed in Berlin with vehicles from other manufacturers to gain further experience in day to day driving conditions. All in all, the HydroGen vehicles have so far covered a distance of around 175,000 kilometers during the tough series of trials and bench tests carried out worldwide.

“Well-to-wheel” study for Europe

In the long term, fossil-based energy sources will be replaced as fuels for vehicles, but before natural resources become exhausted, alternative propulsion concepts must be developed if personal mobility is to be safeguarded. Apart from that, the industry and the politicians are being forced to rethink the situation because of the worldwide increase in vehicles, congestion and pollution. The United Nations estimates that the number of vehicles throughout the world will double by 2030 to around 1.6 billion cars and trucks.

But which alternative is the best? Opel and General Motors (GM) decided to examine this question by carrying out a comprehensive well-to-wheel study on the emission of greenhouse gases from different propulsion systems and fuels. The study examined, under European conditions, the complete chain from the initial production of the fuel from basic materials to its actual consumption in the car.

The research institute L-B-Systemtechnik GmbH (LBST) and BP, ExxonMobil, Shell and Total, partnered the GM experts in the project. The results confirm the fact that the decision taken by the GM Group to opt for hydrogen-powered fuel cells, in its endeavour to achieve sustainable mobility without emissions, was correct. They have been encouraged by another well-to-wheel study carried out in a joint project between the European Council for Automotive R & D, the oil companies' European research association (CONCAWE) and the European Union.

The HydroGen3 vehicle in Salzburg

<cetner>Greenhouse gas emissions: Fuel cell offers the best solution

The central statement of the well-to-wheel study initiated by GM and Opel – which examined a total of 44 fuel pathways and 18 conventional and alternative propulsion concepts for the projected period around 2010 – was that vehicles powered by fuel cells come off best. Optimum environmental data are obtained when renewable raw materials such as biomass, wind power, water power or solar energy are used to obtain the hydrogen. In such a process chain, no pollutant or greenhouse gas emissions are produced.

The Opel Zafira was used as the reference vehicle for the study because it already exists in versions with gasoline, diesel, natural gas and, as the HydroGen3, with fuel cell propulsion. During the research work, the experts tested crude oil, natural gas, electricity – from traditional power plants and from renewable sources – and biomass for their potential to emit greenhouse gases. One of the conclusions was that if natural gas is used as the starting point, there is no advantage in converting it to hydrogen for use in an internal combustion engine, but the best solution is to produce hydrogen from it for subsequent use in the fuel cell. To a lesser extent, the direct use of natural gas in a combustion engine comes out better than gasoline and diesel fuel.

The best method from an ecological point of view is to produce hydrogen with the aid of renewable energy, and to use this in the fuel cell. This variation has five convincing characteristics that could make it the propulsion system of the future:

  • No pollutant emissions
  • No emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide
  • Low specific energy consumption through very high system efficiency
  • Virtually noiseless operation of the overall system
  • Considerable development potential

    Larry Burns, GM Vice President for Research, Development and Planning said that all these points, plus the fact that the level of motorization of the global population will increase significantly in the next two decades, show clearly that the fuel cell is the future – especially if renewable energy is used to produce the hydrogen and if a suitable infrastructure is available.


    The world's first full-scale autonomous renewable energy system based on wind power and hydrogen has been initiated on the Island of Utsira off the west coast of Norway. Ten households get all their electricity in the form of renewable energy.

    Surplus wind power is stored as hydrogen and an engine and a fuel cell will provide electricity and heat when the wind is not blowing. The start of power production from the hydrogen plant represents an important milestone in Norsk Hydro’s work to develop hydrogen as an energy carrier.


    Dr Bernard S Baker, Founder and former President and Chairman of Energy Research Corporation, now FuelCell Energy Inc., whose career spanned 45 years in the field of electrochemistry, died this summer. Dr Baker envisioned an efficient fuel cell which could utilize natural gas directly. When he started work on these “Direct Fuel Cells” they generated only a few milliwatts and now systems based on his design are powering commercial and industrial facilities throughout the world.

    In 1999 Dr Baker received the Grove Medal in London for outstanding work in the development of fuel cells. The Chairman of the Symposium said that Dr Baker had devoted his entire professional career to develop and promote fuel cells. His unique blend of skills had enabled him to acquire many patents on fuel cell related inventions and to issue more than 100 fuel cell publications, as well as building up one of the world’s leading companies in carbonate fuel cell technology.


    So far the UK has made little progress towards meeting its target for reductions in greenhouse gases. The small reductions achieved have come from the run down of old industries, transferring emissions to overseas manufacturing and by the change from coal to gas for electricity generation. Data from the Office of National Statistics for the ten year period 1993-2002 released this summer show that there was an overall reduction in UK greenhouse gas emissions of 6% between 1993 and 2002.
    Reduced emissions from manufacturing were the main factor, falling by 7.7% between 2001-2002, reflecting lower output in this industry, and a total fall of 25% in the period 1993-2002. There was a fall in emissions of 6% in the electricity, gas and water supply industries during the ten year period. However, emissions from Transport and Communication increased by 35% between 1993-2003.

    According to the New Economics Foundation (nef), the annual investment in fossil fuels in the developing world by US agencies alone could have provided 30 million people in Sub Saharan Africa each year with solar electricity. Damage from global warming could soon reach $300 billion per annum and due to the failure of diplomacy, nef is examining the legal basis for trade measures and litigation against the world’s worst polluters. Where a nation has an unfair trade advantage because it is not complying with the Kyoto Protocol, importing nations should be allowed to levy a border tax. Litigation has already been announced by the Prime Minister of Tuvalu, who is seeking recompense for damage from rising sea levels and changing weather which are beginning to devastate his Pacific island country.

    The Association of British Insurers (ABI), whose members provide most of the insurance in the UK, has issued a report highlighting the impact that climate change is already having on the insurance industry. Weather related claims on property insurance have doubled to over £6 billion during the period 1998-2003 compared with the previous five years. ABI’s Head of General Insurance said that insurers must be equipped to analyse the new risks arising from climate change.


    We can start to establish the hydrogen infrastructure by using hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. Cheaper fuel cells are suitable for stationary applications and pilot production could start if there was finance for innovation. For transport, the technologies which are available at reasonable cost will be discussed and prototypes demonstrated, at a meeting in Cambridge in September. (see below)

    Hydrogen fuel cells can be used to store intermittent supplies of energy from wind, solar, wave or tidal power. In the UK about 20 square metres of solar panels would provide about half the average family’s electricity requirements and the balance could be obtained from a small wind turbine, or if preferred additional electricity could be supplied via the grid from renewable energy sources. Portable hydrogen fuel cells are already available and costs will reduce as volume production increases.

    Involve youth in a sustainable future

    Green Motorsport is inviting sponsors to create an exciting and demanding new electric motor sport championship called GMS, which will use “green” fuel cell powered karts. This is an 8-race championship run with Stars of Tomorrow for drivers hand-picked by racing celebrities. The proposed series is already backed by some of the most famous and influential motor sport stars including John Surtees, Sir Stirling Moss, Sir Jack Brabham, Derek Bell and Martin Donnelly.

    Green Motorsport believes that nothing improves the technology better than the thrill of competition at the highest levels! The world has never needed fuel cell technology more, so this is your chance to lead the way using technologies of the future!

    Green Motorsport offers pioneers in this new hydrogen economy promotional opportunities and advertising space online, at the heart of the creation of this new activity, with its links to the new Hydrogen and Renewable Economies. There you will join other participants including the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC), Stuart Energy Europe, Alternative Fuel Systems, Fuel Cell Markets, the Motor Sport Industry Assn, the Motor Sport Assn, BP Solar, Gravitron Ltd, Voller Energy, the Battery Vehicle Society, Energylinx Transport Design Int. Ltd and British Wind Energy Assn. This is an opportunity that none of us can afford to miss. The world must change its transportation infrastructure to one that is "green", exciting and sustainable within the next 10 years. This can only be done by inspiring our youth to aspire to dreams that are challenging and stimulating. Can there be anything more challenging than kart racing, more stimulating than using cutting edge technology and more demanding than a future with no other options? We must all race as if our lives depended on it…because they literally do!

    Industrial growth through small renewables

    The UK Government provides substantial funding for research and development of renewable energy technologies but there is a huge gap before technologies are eligible for market support through the Climate Change Levy and the Renewable Obligation, says Mike Haseler of Intronic Technology, which develops control equipment.

    This gap is at the point where evaluation and field demonstrations are needed to stabilise design and resolve engineering and reliability issues. In established industries this gap is funded from intra-company profits, but with the decline of UK engineering and without a renewables industry, this source of funds is not available. To illustrate the problem, the diagram shows the availability of support funding at various stages in the development cycle and shows how this relates to phases of a project.

    Development progress and support funding

    Although the Government is providing more money than previously to renewable energy, the diagram shows that more money into the same framework does not bridge the gap between R&D and commercialisation. The result of focusing on R & D to the exclusion of engineering improvement is that technologies fail to mature. The funding from the Renewables Obligation cannot be relied upon so market support favours mature technology such as large wind turbines. There is even less Government support for the off-grid market and attracting outside money to renewable energy projects can only be achieved if the risk to the investor can be considerably reduced. This creates an insurmountable barrier to both company and technological growth.

    An alternative to the Government’s policy is the experience of the Danish wind industry, where early support was given through grants and market support to enable small communities and individuals to purchase wind turbines. This encouraged a number of innovative companies and individuals into the field providing a testing ground to tackle key engineering problems such as reliability and efficiency. Also by providing relatively small amounts of funding to ensure that there was a profitable market, the result was to bring in much larger quantities of external funding which were attracted to the most effective designs and provided intra-company funding for further incremental development.

    Political measures

    A meeting was held at the Houses of Parliament this summer to explain the principles of Contraction and Convergence, in which carbon emissions will gradually be limited to amounts agreed by the world’s scientists to be least damaging to the earth and the world’s economies. Emissions will converge at the point when each country will have a limit set in relation to their population level, so that everyone has the same entitlement to the global commons of the atmosphere. This will encourage the transfer of investment from fossil fuels to energy efficiency measures and renewable energy.

    Michael Meacher MP outlined the dangers of oil depletion and climate change and said that at present renewable energy sources only contribute half of one percent of the world’s energy! He then introduced Aubrey Meyer, Founder and Director of the London based Global Commons Institute who developed the concept of Contraction and Convergence in the 1990s.

    The figure illustrates Aubrey’s proposal and shows how world economic growth could continue to grow if we have business as usual (BAU), so long as CO2 emissions are limited by Contraction and Convergence. This will encourage energy efficiency measures and open up new markets for renewable energy technologies, hydrogen and fuel cells. The likely extent of carbon trading between the richer countries (referred to as Annex One) and developing countries (Non Annex One countries) is also shown.

    This was first proposed by Aubrey Meyer in 1996 and has since been endorsed by many organizations, including the United Nations Environment Programme, the European Parliament, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the UK Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. The Swedish Government also believes that Contraction and Convergence will provide inter-generational justice. If you would be interested in adding your voice to Aubrey’s proposal, it was fully explained this summer on the websites and

    Better collaboration.

    At a meeting of the Royal Academy of Engineering, Chris Lambert, Director of the Energy Policy Unit at the Adam Smith Institute, said that the UK has a proud history of leadership in science and engineering and it is hoped that the Adam Smith Institute can help to resolve some of the problems facing the energy industry through better collaboration and transparency in debate. Chris Lambert outlined the need for secure electricity supplies, with optimum environmental sustainability and economic affordability. Projections by the Adam Smith Institute show that with present policies, by 2025 three quarters of UK electricity would be dependent upon gas from Russia and Iran, and these countries are seen to become increasingly politically unstable during this period.

    The Adam Smith Institute favours diversity of energy supply, developing presently available technologies as well as new sources of renewable energy. Although the Renewables Obligation Certificates give a boost to the expansion of the relatively mature wind power technology, they do not necessarily help emerging technologies. The UK has ambitious plans, but we currently have among the lowest renewables contribution in Europe. Several other countries use Feed In Tariffs which guarantee the output price for the electricity and these have helped investment in all technologies.

    The external costs of all forms of generation should be taken into account and more powerful mechanisms are likely to be needed to encourage the commercialisation of emerging renewable technologies. It is not just curbing the UK’s emissions that matters, it is the ability to disseminate as broad a package of low or zero carbon technologies as possible to the developing countries, in order to accelerate their shift from high polluting consumers to clean consumers of energy.

    Public interest in energy is low, it is not an electoral issue, so the media responds to high profile concerns such as the power blackout, the radiation leak or the oil spill. The Adam Smith Institute will attempt to provide an independent, inclusive forum for debate. and

    Public awareness

    The public generally is uninformed about world problems of fossil fuel depletion, security of energy supply, air pollution and climate change. Occasional good publicity is overwhelmed by the massive outputs of promotional lobbies for existing industries, which often counter the efforts of innovative companies. Fuel Cell Power aims to establish the facts and to highlight the potential for fuel cell systems to provide clean, efficient, secure means of storing energy supplies.

    The Times announced “ENERGY STRATEGY WILL FORCE UP COSTS” based on a report from the Royal Academy of Engineering. They omitted to mention that the costs estimated for electricity generated from wind power were qualified by the statements that renewable energy technologies are not yet benefiting from economies of scale, that gas prices could rise over the next 20 years and that carbon trading will increase the price of fossil fuels. Neither The Times nor the Royal Academy referred to the costs of air pollution which are paid for by the nation as a whole, not by the polluter.

    In an otherwise useful article The Independent said that fuel cells were not suited to the heavy duty cycles required for urban vehicles and was oblivious of the decades of development with liquid hydrogen fuel tanks. In fact fuel cells operate well at part load and this type of application is ideal for starting to build up fleets of hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles.

    The Guardian stated that fuel cell technologies rival power sources such as wind or solar. This is not the case, in fact they complement each other, as lower temperature fuel cells operate best when powered by pure hydrogen and it improves the load factor of wind and solar power if it can be stored as hydrogen.

    The Daily Mail published an article by Prof David Bellamy which disputed the scientific evidence about climate change. Fuel Cell Power’s response “He’s out of touch with climate change science” can be seen at

    Renewable Energy World published an article by Dr Ulf Bossel of the European Fuel Cell Forum, entitled ‘Hydrogen - the Last Word’ which departed from the usual scientific practice by discouraging discussion of his conclusions. This paper was then used as a reference point for a contribution to the May issue of Scientific American and a July press release from the European Fuel Cell Forum. Fuel Cell Power’s response was not published by Renewable Energy World so in order to enable readers to form their own opinion, we outline several fallacies in Dr Bossel’s arguments about the efficiency and cost of hydrogen:

  • It has never been proposed that all the electricity from renewable energy sources should be stored as hydrogen, but only the proportion which is not required for immediate use. The grid cannot store hydrogen.

  • Most mobile applications require some form of electricity storage.

  • A high proportion of electricity from renewable sources will be generated and utilized on site.

  • Hydrogen fuel cells are clean and quiet so they can be utilized in residential buildings. This will obviate the massive losses of heat from our present electricity grid.

  • The most inefficient means of transporting hydrogen is by road tanker. When electricity cannot be utilized on the site where it is generated, it would generally be transported by the grid to a local hydrogen production facility or converted to hydrogen and transported by pipeline.

  • When comparing the efficiency of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles with their internal combustion engine counterparts it is essential to take into account all the stages “from well-to-wheel”.

  • At no point does Dr Bossel mention the whole economic cost of energy, neither the damage to health, buildings or forestry caused by air pollution, nor the long term problems arising from dumping CO2 in the atmosphere Fuel Cell Power’s full response can be seen at or can be obtained from the secretariat.

    NEWS from EUROPE

    Cordis Focus, the Official Journal published by the European Commission (14/6/04) refers to a report from the French Agency for Health and Environment which claims that the unrestrained consumption of fossil fuels is killing tens of thousands of people in Europe. In France alone, automobile emissions kill up to 10,000 people per year. Furthermore, between 6% and 11% of all lung cancer cases in France are caused by automobile emissions. A study by the World Health Organization reaches similar conclusions.

    The European Commission published a call for proposals in Cordis Focus for hydrogen and fuel cell development on the 12th July.

    Advanced Electric and Hybrid Vehicles

    8th–9th September 2004, Cambridge. The meeting at Churchill College, Cambridge is being called in order to progress the practical application of electric vehicles, including hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. It is recognized that some technologies, although technically feasible, would be too costly for most potential users at present and the meeting will recommend affordable systems for the short to medium term.

    The purpose of the conference is to facilitate an exchange of ideas between the various individuals and organisations working on the development of advanced electric and hybrid vehicles.

    The conference programme comprises six technical sessions over two days, each with 2-3 independent speakers who will bring varied perspectives to the discussions. These include: Prof David Howe, Electrical Machines and Drives Research, Sheffield University John Wood, Managing Director, Motor Industry Research Association Ltd Stephen Hart, Technology Demonstration Projects, Energy Savings Trust David Wardle, European Manager - Hydrogen Energy, BOC. Roger Millington, General Manager, Wamphler : John Bentley, Hawker Dr. Roger Tilley, Beta R&D Ltd : Dr. Rayner Mayer, Director, Sciotech; Allan Cooper, European Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium Dr. Charlie Wartnaby, Chief Engineer, Pi Technology; Peter Black, Environmental Planning, Greater Manchester Public Transport Dr. Bill O’Neill, Lecturer in Production Processes, Cambridge University; Rory Clarke, Rix Biodiesel : Eduard Hustinx, Authorised Siemens Agent

    The focus of discussions during the conference will be the commercial gap that currently exists between research & development, and the practical reality of hybrid & electric vehicles. We would like to discuss how new technologies can be introduced to bridge this gap, as well as how better organisation and targeting of resources can improve the current situation. During the conference, a number of demonstration vehicles will be available for inspection including passenger cars, vans, and buses.

    The conference fee is £210.00 + VAT per delegate, which includes entrance to the two day conference, en-suite accommodation and breakfast in Churchill College, refreshments, reception and buffet dinner. For further information please contact Kathryn Liggett at

    Fuel Cells Science & Technology 2004
    6th-7th October 2004, Munich.
    Scientific advances in fuel cell systems.
    Meeting organized by Elsevier, who also organise the Grove Fuel Cell Symposia.
    Secretariat: Gill Heaton, Hillside Cottages,
    Wheatley Road,
    Oxford OX5 2TF,
    Tel: 44 (0) 1865 373625


    Information can be obtained from:

    Fuel Cell Power,
    The Street,
    IP30 9QG.

    Tel. & Fax 01359 245073
    or Future Energies on 0044 1483 763375



     Log in Problems?
     New User? Sign Up!

    Related links
    · More about Education
    · News by gfoat

    Most-read story in Education:
    UK: Fuel Cell Power No.17 Summer 2004

    Future Energies Magazine

    All logos and trademarks in this site are property of their respective owner. The comments are property of their posters & rights on articles are property of the poster, all the rest © 2001-2014 Future Energies

    Partners with the UK Fuel Cell Network

    You can syndicate our news using the file backend.php or ultramode.txt