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Organizations Call on US Congress to Restore Federal Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Research Budget to FY 2009 Levels

Three organizations representing health, environmental and energy policy interests joined four national trade associations in calling on the US Congress to restore funding for the federal hydrogen and fuel cell research and deployment program to FY 2009 levels. The seven groups are the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM); American Lung Association (ALA); Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA); Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS); The Stella Group, Ltd; the National Hydrogen Association (NHA); and the US Fuel Cell Council (USFCC).

The Obama Administration’s 2010 Department of Energy (DOE) budget proposes to cut the federal hydrogen fuel cell research and deployment budget by more than two thirds, or $130 million, eliminating funds for the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle program and market transformation programs. (Earlier post.)

In a letter to the House and Senate Energy & Water Appropriations Subcommittee leadership, the organizations wrote:

Attaining our national goal of sustainable transportation will require a diverse portfolio of advanced vehicles. Fuel cell vehicles should be part of our portfolio. Yet the Department of Energy proposed to eliminate funding for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and for fuel cell deployment activities, cutting the program overall by two-thirds. We ask that you restore funding to FY 2009 levels.

Industry, academic researchers, and the Department of Energy, working together, have achieved substantial success in addressing technology, infrastructure and cost challenges. US and international vehicle manufacturers have hundreds of vehicles on the road today and have made near-term commitments to building the fuel cell vehicle fleet. Together they have spent billions of dollars on research, an investment many times greater than the US government’s. Real world data collected by DOE and others confirms that fuel cell vehicles are inherently low in smog-causing emissions, cut carbon emissions by more than half and achieve nearly 60% efficiency, which is two to three times the fuel economy of comparable combustion vehicles.

Additional research and development are necessary in all the advanced vehicle and fuel pathways. All the pathways have a role to play in attaining national goals for greenhouse gas reductions and oil-free transportation. None of the advanced pathways are fully commercial yet. As the National Research Council concluded in its 2008 report on hydrogen:

At any point in time, a well-founded energy policy would support a portfolio of improving, emerging, and potentially revolutionary technologies, and it would influence both established companies and entrepreneurial ventures.

We need to maintain momentum in the hydrogen fuel cell pathway as part of our national energy portfolio. We urge you to maintain US leadership in developing and deploying fuel cell transportation by restoring fuel cell funding to FY 2009 levels.



Who is "We" that need to maintain momentum in the hydrogen fuel cell pathway??
Hydrogen can never establish itself as a dominant energy carrier. It has to be fabricated from high grade energy and it has to compete with high grade energy in the market place. Hydrogen cannot win this fight against its own energy source. Physics is eternal and cannot be charged by man. Therefore, a Hydrogen Economy has no past, no present and no future. The road to sustainability leads to an Electron Economy.



It's doubtful we've seen the end of methods to splits water molecules to harvest H2. Dan Nocera at MIT seems to think he's got a method that requires the same energy inputs as photosynthesis. And there are

And there's Penn State's cluster geometry approach:

H2 will make a contribution to the energy portfolio - it's simply a matter of focusing on low energy (room temp or near) reactions. There are more arriving all the time.


Since the 1970's: hydrogen's been the promise that keeps promising - and they still get funding.

'They' like it - they fund it.

Roger Pham

As we are going to rely more on solar and wind energy in the future, we will need to store excess energy produced in spring and fall to be used in the winter, in the form of H2, the most efficient way to produce a combustible fuel for heating, electrical generation and powering motor vehicles.


The same people that complain about this reduction in funding could be some of the same people that complain about the deficit. It is a world of tradeoffs and the decisions made are important. In a zero sum budget, something has to give. Either increase revenues and/or decrease spending. In a No New Taxes world, this is the choice.


The Pigs are squealing at the trough.


The proposed budget for biofuels (with stimulus and loan guarantees) is around 2 billion, the proposed budget for batteries is around 3 billion - the 100 million for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles is a drop in that bucket and there are more fuel cell vehicles on the road today. Why kneecap a program when it is starting to bear fruit? Why not fund all pathways and see which one gets there first? We are going to need all the help we can get to fight climate change and reduce our dependence on foreign oil, so why choose now? Especially when fuel cells can be used to extend the range of batteries (plus then the fuel cell can be smaller and the battery much, much lighter).

The point is, we shouldn't choose one pathway over another when they are all needed and all have their own challenges right now. To overlook all the progress that hydrogen fuel cell vehicles have made and are making today is a ridiculous strategy.


Hydrogen has been used as the "better way - just around the corner" means of crushing EV's and other viable ICE replacements/funding for years. This administration knows it and responded.

Roger Pham

Dramatic improvements in H2 storage, generation and FC technology have been presented. We have fabulous FCV's like the Honda FCX and GM Equinox running around gathering valuable research data. These are capable of over 60% thermal efficiency. Numerous ways have been found to dramatically reduce platinum use or eliminate platinum altogether in FC and in H2 hydrolyzer. Research vital as these must continue!


Looking at who's pushing this, it looks like they fall into 3 categories:

  • The status-quo:  Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM) and Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA).  These are being paid to do research and don't want any change that breaks their rice bowl.

  • The clueless:  the American Lung Association (ALA) and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).  They may have their hearts (or pulmonary systems) in the right place, but they obviously can't do physics.  They can't calculate what a whole new infrastructure would take to roll out either, and what a toll on health the expense and delay would mean.

  • And last, the pigs at the trough:  The Stella Group, Ltd, the National Hydrogen Association (NHA), and the US Fuel Cell Council (USFCC).  All of these have oxen that are gored directly by dumping the hydrogen boondoggle.

So there we have it.  No reason whatsoever to reconsider the funding cutoff; indeed, this should cement the resolve to give them not one more cent.



H2 improvements are fine, but not if the H2 vehicle still costs a million dollars each. For half that, I could build EV's with a 500 mile range - even if I have to use 6,800 'C' cells.

The Honda FCV seems to be the best H2 fuel cell vehicle around and they didn't need our tax dollars. US firms have gotten H2 billions and are still getting hundreds of millions - perhaps too many hundreds of millions of dollars.


I think alot of the companies involved are angry because they rightly see fuel cells replacing engines in 10-20 years and need to be pulling forward now to be in the game at all down the road.

Fuel cells didnt catch on earlier simply because oil didnt run out as soon as expected. Thats the only reason. Even many years ago they COULD have mass produced fuel cells for about 300 bucks a kw. Thats JUST 18 grand for a near 90 hp car. They can now do that for less then 4500.

The fuel in many places is cheaper the fossil fuels and yes we can actualy store enough to go places.. have been able to for years now.

The reason fuel cell cars arnt here already in large numbers is all the people and companies involved are VERY conservative about rolling it out.


The companies want to do fuel cells BECAUSE they are so far off.  As long as they're not ready, the entire engine and drivetrain divisions of multiple companies still have a reason to exist.  Batteries will kill them that much sooner, so they use FCs as an argument to avoid using batteries.

That's like using the long lifespan of radial tires as a reason to stick with bias-ply.  It didn't work for Firestone and Goodyear.

Roger Pham

The economic stimulus should be about investing in the technologies that will make America economically and technologically strong...and not wasted on entitlements and pork-barrel projects.

We should be in this together to promote research to help America wean off fossil energy, reduce global warming and clean up the environment. BEV and FC and H2 technolgies and waste biomass and biomethane and geothermal and solar energy and wind energy etc... should all be in the ticket...and not one group trying to cut off other...H2 is a very clean fuel, non-toxic, and can be produced anywhere, even in one's own home, from any primary source of energy. No other chemical fuels can be as clean or as easily and efficiently produced.

FCV's and BEV's and bio-fueled HEV's etc. can and should co-exist...Each motorist should decide for him/herself which will fit his/her own transportation needs...

Imagine one day most people will have solar PV on their roof top producing excess day-time electricity to produce H2 that can be stored in low-pressure-adsorbed H2 tank, that can fill up their car once a week or longer, in just minutes. That a community produces enough H2 in spring or fall from solar or wind energy to use in the energy independence...I would say, Energy Utopia...

That day won't happen without further research...!!!


"Fuel cells didnt catch on earlier simply because oil didnt run out as soon as expected. Thats the only reason. Even many years ago they COULD have mass produced fuel cells for about 300 bucks a kw. Thats JUST 18 grand for a near 90 hp car. They can now do that for less then 4500."

Please provide links to this low cost statement. Per Honda: Nov 10, 2008 ... Jamie Lee Curtis picked up her Honda FCX Clarity here, and today we did the same ... Equinox FCV, the Clarity doesn't need a communications cable); lock and go ... The FCX has serious understeer and costs over $1million. ...


"kneecap a program"

You could quadruple the funding and it would still take 10 years to get there. The money is better spent on paths that will get there more quickly. You can double the funding on some programs and they might get there 10% faster.

"replacing engines in 10-20 years"

This is precisely why the funding is being reduced in favor of more near term success. Doubling funding might get results in 18 years instead of 20. Use the present funding to leverage private funds. More progress for the public dollar that way.


Um kelly this site covered it several times;/

The cost to make fuel cells is fairly low the main cost component is the fact they were only making a few at a time yet had a 10-20 million a year company to fund. Now that they make 2-400 a year and are something like a 30 mil company the real cost is down alot.

Also on this site the cost of the entire clarity construction program was said to be 20 million and that for 200 cars.

Also again on this site even back waaaay back using extremely old fuel cell designs the bus project this site covered had a cost of 450k per fuel cell stack. A later bus project had a cost of only 150k per stack. So you see if they realy are making alot of these fuel cell stacks they could indeed be costing less then 100k now.

But again thats mostly the cost of running the company as per data from again this site it was 273 per kw many years ago its 79 or something now and the target is 30 by 2015. Thats the cost if mass produced in 1 million or more.

Again the only thing keeping it back is the conservative nature of many of the companies behind it and the fact oil is still strong.


"Um kelly this site covered it several times;/ "

You've listed the hydrogen infrastructure, but no articles.


I found some costs in this one..

200 per kw in 2003 110 in 2006 and a goal of 30 for 2015 based on 500k per year production.

The cost of the clarity was alot more tricky and I cant retrace my steps. Basicaly honda never said directly what it costs but they let slip in one press release that the project cost 20 million and elsewhere that it involved 200 cars. Now it IS possible that 20 million was just for one phase of the project but so far as I can tell its not.

As for the cost of the bus fuel cells the only way to get that now is to track down the pdf report they made and calc the cost of the fuel cells via the fact they goofed and tell you what percentage of thier total maintenance cost was fuel cell replacement and how many fuel cells they bought;/ They do that in two different plces tho one not in the report itself or in a second report.

You can also get an idea of current costs by googling for retrofit fuel cell thingies and findout out they cost 100k to 150k or so for the whole shebang...

And yes I was waaaay too bored when I bothered to do all that and no im not about to ever be that bored ever again... I hope.


Cost for fuel cells are coming down. When you think how many parts are in an I.C.E. and what they cost, it is a marvel of manufacturing. They need to get the lifespan up on fuel cells. Out of all the fuel cell cars that Chrysler/Daimler built in the NECAR1 through NECAR5 programs, I think that they had ONE that ran 100k miles without a stack rebuild. We have a ways to go yet.


The cost for fuel cells will soon become secondary to their intolerance of things like getting too warm or too dry.  The fussiness of proton exchange membranes is going to require costly equipment (and sometimes costly repairs) even if they get ten times cheaper.

And even if the FCs were free and lasted 100 years, you'd still have the thermodynamic inefficiencies of making hydrogen and the infrastructure costs of creating an entirely new energy system to handle it.  Either of these should be enough to kill the program.  Well, it's dead; let's keep it that way.


Ep they just started making the parts needed to make pem fuel cells that work at 160 degrees c they even talk about some of those parts here on this site. Those pem fuel cells also happen to not have any water issues at all... They can even handle co2 poisoning. Duno yet if they have all the parts needed to run a stack at that temp tho. But its getting close.

Roger Pham

Well, every major auto mfg's are prototyping at least 1 or severy FCV's, so the commercial potential of these FCV's are not too far off, or else they won't bother. Honda is leading the pack, but MB, GM, Ford, Huyndai, VW, Toyota etc... are showing some marvelous hardwares that keep improving rapidly.

The potential for H2 and FCV is vast...far exceeding any old-tech ICE that has been polluting and inefficient. H2 is very clean, efficient, storable in large quantity, and can be produced anywhere using any kind of primary energy source. Let's say that one winter, the community uses up all the H2 made from renewable energy made from the summer and fall...Must all the FCV's now be stranded due to the lack of fuel? Nope, crank up the steam reformer, shove in the methane, or the biomass, or the coal...or whatever the fuel souces...and out come the H2...



I agree, we could make H2 at the fueling stations of at home. Most have natural gas and all have electricity. There may come a day soon when the adsorbed storage of H2 and the life and costs all align.


The last word from MIT:

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