Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Kevin Bullis

A View from Kevin Bullis

Death of the Hydrogen Economy

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

  • May 8, 2009

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?

The AI revolution is here. Will you lead or follow?
Join us at EmTech Digital 2019.

Register now
More from Sustainable Energy

Can we sustainably provide food, water, and energy to a growing population during a climate crisis?

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Plus.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    Print + Digital Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

    Technology Review PDF magazine archive, including articles, images, and covers dating back to 1899

    10% Discount to MIT Technology Review events and MIT Press

    Ad-free website experience

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.