Fuel cell in line for stimulus package

The fuel cell industry is among those waiting in a “growing” line for Obama’s incoming stimulus package. The US fuel cell council says it will ask for a total of $1.2bn to invest in research, infrastructure, and manufacturing for fuel cell and hydrogen.

Specifically, the industry program calls for lease and purchases of fuel cells by federal civilian and military agencies for power generation and as battery alternatives, investment in supporting fueling infrastructure, improving federal investment tax credits for fuel cells and extending a credit to fuels. It also includes expanding learning demonstrations, accelerating research, and supporting an expansion of manufacturing capability at fuel cell companies and key suppliers, to foster a supply base and develop domestic momentum for jobs and expansion.

“Accelerating investment into fuel cells now will foster green power, advance a critical climate-enhancing technology, accelerate job creation and keep innovation, industrial capacity and jobs at home,” said Robert Rose, Executive Director of the US Fuel Cell Council.

The investment would produce an estimated 24,000 jobs, Rose said.

3 Responses to Fuel cell in line for stimulus package

  1. Pradeep 7 January, 2009 at 5:50 am #

    Doris,
    A fuel cell is only “climate-enhancing” insofar as the fuel..
    Really “bad” fuels burnt in a fuel cell might result in the same level of emissions as “moderate” fuels burnt in conventional engines…

  2. Jim Horwitz 7 January, 2009 at 5:31 pm #

    Pradeep,

    One can quickly discount your comment in that fuel cells do not ‘burn’ fuel – no combustion therefore essentially 0 pollutants produced other than CO2. And the CO2 produced is around 1/2 of that produced by burning the equivalent fuel. High temp fuel cells such as 650 C MCFC or 700 C SOFC are self reforming when using methane (NG), biogas or other dirtier fuel like kerosene or the Army’s dream of JP-8 standard jet fuel, but the trace non-hydrocarbon elements are generally removed by filters, particularly the sulfur, still giving an output of only electricity, water and CO2 from the electrochemical reaction. SOFC actually use CO as a fuel. You should check out the Japanese government’s results of their Large Scale Demonstration Program, now with over 3000 1 kW class fuel cell mCHP systems installed in regular homes (google NEDO or METI and fuel cells). They meticulously documented the emmissions and efficiency of the systems and compared them to centrally thermal produced power from the same fuels.

  3. Pradeep 7 January, 2009 at 9:25 pm #

    @Jim Horowitz,
    Two clarifcations, as I mangled my late-night comments:
    1. I used “burn” in a “very” broad sense. I understand that a fuel cell electrochemically oxidizes the fuel at the anode. Thanks for pointing this out.
    2. By “bad” fuels, I was referring to CO2 emissions, rather than the SOx/NOx/PM emissions. Thanks for pointing me to the Japanese government link. I will check it out.

    My argument was that most people do not realize that fuel cells are energy conversion devices, not primary energy sources by themselves. I also think that a hydrogen infrastructure is not the only solution to our energy problems. It might not make sense to convert a renewable energy (produced by converting solar/wind/tidal/biomass energy to electricity) to hydrogen, because of the inefficiencies with water electrolysis.

    Reflecting Tom Friedman’s views, I think that investing in renewable energy technologies that produce reliable, environmentally friendly, and inexpensive molecules and electricity should also be a priority.

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