Hydrogen fuel cells are coming to the U.S. market, facing competitors in the hybrid/electric car and traditional fuel car market. Toyota is set to release its Mirai fuel cell car later this year in Japan, Europe, and the U.S., with preorder demand setting the wait time until 2018. Many other car manufacturers such as Hyundai have begun hydrogen fuel cell projects of their own, implying that it might be the next big car trend. In the U.S., markets which already embrace fuel cell technology (California and Hawaii) will be first explored. Most of the United States has yet to explore hydrogen infrastructure, due to its cost and limited demand.
Physicist Michio Kaku lauds the price range of recent hydrogen cars.
Usually hydrogen cars are priced at hundreds of thousands of dollars, way beyond the pocketbook of the average person,” Kaku said. “But this car, we’re talking about the neighborhood of $50,000. As mass production, competition, and economies of scale begin to kick in — and as governments begin to subsidize the creation of refueling stations — you’re going to see that cost drop even further.
One of the main arguments against current fuel cell technology involves the process of acquiring the hydrogen. Though hydrogen may be a fuel with water as a waste-product, attaining it requires either splitting hydrocarbons such as methane-an energy intense process, or expensive electrolysis (splitting water molecules). As technology for the fuel cell continues to evolve, the latter is expected to become the norm. Will the release of hydrogen fuel cell cars be met with as much consumer demand? Current demand seems to outstrip supply, but demand will only increase if the price of the car becomes more affordable and/or if the infrastructure to supply hydrogen becomes more available.
Read More – Hydrogen, hydrogen everywhere… (BBc News, Matthew Wall)