Skip to Content

Death of the Hydrogen Economy

Obama’s budget puts hydrogen fuel-cell research out of its misery–almost.

A government program to help develop hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered vehicles–a hallmark of the Bush administration–has been almost completely wiped out in the Obama administration’s proposed budget.

In 2008, hydrogen technology research and development at the Department of Energy got over $200 million. That’s been scaled down to about $70 million in the current budget, and that’s for fuel cells of all sorts–including generating electricity for the grid, and not just hydrogen fuel cells for vehicles.

Major automakers have also recently scaled back their hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicle development, emphasizing hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and electric vehicles instead.

Hydrogen fuel cells don’t emit pollutants–just water. And the amount of hydrogen that can be stored, by weight, is tremendous. But fuel cells are expensive, hydrogen is hard to come by (there aren’t many hydrogen filling stations), and it’s difficult to store in a small volume. What’s more, the cleanest way to make hydrogen–electrolysis using electricity from renewable sources–is expensive and inefficient.

What do you think? Is it about time we abandon hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles? Or do they still have a place in future transportation?

Keep Reading

Most Popular

Europe's AI Act concept
Europe's AI Act concept

A quick guide to the most important AI law you’ve never heard of

The European Union is planning new legislation aimed at curbing the worst harms associated with artificial intelligence.

Uber Autonomous Vehicles parked in a lot
Uber Autonomous Vehicles parked in a lot

It will soon be easy for self-driving cars to hide in plain sight. We shouldn’t let them.

If they ever hit our roads for real, other drivers need to know exactly what they are.

supermassive black hole at center of Milky Way
supermassive black hole at center of Milky Way

This is the first image of the black hole at the center of our galaxy

The stunning image was made possible by linking eight existing radio observatories across the globe.

transplant surgery
transplant surgery

The gene-edited pig heart given to a dying patient was infected with a pig virus

The first transplant of a genetically-modified pig heart into a human may have ended prematurely because of a well-known—and avoidable—risk.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.