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August 31, 2009

Nobel Laureate Burton Richter: "Hydrogen fuel cells are losers"

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Even though there are plenty of reasons for automakers to promote using hydrogen fuel cells in vehicles, they certainly have their critics. Burton Richter, the Paul Pigott professor of the physical sciences and a Nobel Laureate, is one. Speaking to Greentech Media recently following a presentation at IBM’s Almaden labs, he said that “The present hydrogen fuel cells are losers. They have to go back to the R&D lab.” His reasons include:

  • Hydrogen is too expensive to make (batteries for EVs are also expensive, but the efficiency of electric cars can’t be beat. Details on the efficiency of EVs run as follows, according to Richter: to get an EV up to 70 mph it takes about 10.8 kw. The Prius requires 16.8 kw. An ICE Ford Expedition needs 38.1 kw.)
  • Membranes inside the cells don’t have the longevity required.
  • “The entire world production of platinum isn’t large enough for 10 million cars.”

Richter’s comments, of course, drew their own critics. Regular AutoblogGreen readers will recognize the first commenter on the Greentech Media post. Another commenter, “Plug-in Hybrids: The Cars That Will Recharge America” author Sherry Boschert, wrote:

This makes for some fun score-keeping…
Nobel laureates who have challenged the hydrogen hype = 2 (Richter and Energy Sec. Steven Chu)
Nobel laureates who believe the hydrogen hype = ??

[Source: Greentech Media]

Nobel Laureate Burton Richter: “Hydrogen fuel cells are losers” originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Fri, 28 Aug 2009 19:39:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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