FuelCellCarNews.com Features "Shell Helping Lead the Way to ’The Hydrogen Economy’"
POINT ROBERTS, WA -- 12/22/2004 -- www.FuelCellCarNews.com, a global investor news portal for the fuel cell industry, presents its latest article on the future of the sector: “Shell Hydrogen sees the way to ’The Hydrogen Economy,’” featuring an exclusive interview with Shell Hydrogen’s CEO Jeremy Bentham, and outlining the forces driving us towards a future fuelled at least partly by hydrogen. Gas-electric hybrids can be seen as an intermediate step towards a full hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, and consumer demand for hybrids is expected to grow sales from 80 thousand this year to 470 thousand by 2007. But Mr. Bentham predicts that fully half of all cars sold could be hydrogen powered by the middle of the century.
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Article Excerpts: Royal Dutch Shell helping lead the way to ’The Hydrogen Economy’ By Allen R. Gibson December 2004
There’s a lot of hype about “the hydrogen economy” these days. But PR alone doesn’t account for the immense interest in hydrogen to fuel our future. The fact is, hydrogen has many benefits that western economies want and need: reduced greenhouse gas emissions; less dependence on foreign oil; and cleaner air in our cities.
The benefits of hydrogen are potentially huge, and that has governments, industry, and consumers all looking to help move the introduction of fuel cells and hydrogen power forward.
Combine the bad fuel economy of today’s cars with rising oil prices, and consumers are understandably demanding alternatives. So much so that GM and DaimlerChrysler have just teamed up as late entrants into the hybrid vehicle market. Hybrids can be seen as an intermediate step towards full hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, and one that is increasingly popular. Analysts expect hybrid sales to grow from 80 thousand this year to 470 thousand by 2007.
Shell Hydrogen CEO Jeremy Bentham looks further down the road. “If we look out to 2020, we imagine a modest 5-10 million hydrogen vehicles on the road, but that could continue growing rapidly until that number encompasses 50 percent of vehicles sold by the middle part of this century.”
“To expedite the transition of our transportation system away from petroleum fuels, and towards hydrogen fuel and vehicles, experts point to the crucial need for a hydrogen fueling infrastructure and the necessary leadership to make it a reality,” said California’s EPA Secretary Terry Tamminen at the opening of California’s first hydrogen fueling station earlier this year.
Not everyone thinks hydrogen is the way to go on fuel cell development, however. “Even with aggressive research, the hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle will not be better than the diesel hybrid (a vehicle powered by a conventional engine supplemented by an electric motor) in terms of total energy use and greenhouse gas emissions by 2020,” says a study by MIT’s Laboratory for Energy and the Environment.
Asked what technology he sees being dominant, Shell’s Bentham replied: “Clearly, tech developments are going on in all fields. In terms of the transport and auto field, the PEM fuel cell is the dominant technology, with its characteristics of quick start up and acceleration. If we look towards the stationary-type applications, the most efficient are going to be the high-temperature cells with the potential for being high-durability.”
Astris Energi Inc. (OTC BB: ASRNF), who are marketing a low-temperature AFC (Alkaline Fuel Cell) they developed that has considerably lower material and operating costs than other fuel cells in its class, agrees that, today, hi-temp cells make the most sense for continuous heat/power applications. ’’If we look at applications that require quick startup, however -- such as backup power, UPS, or the eventual use in transportation applications, our AFC makes far more sense, because of its instant start up time versus hours for the hi-temp cells, as well as the much more favorable economics,’’ says Peter Nor, Astris’ VP of Corporate Development.
To have hydrogen where you need it, when you need, is one of the biggest challenges in the progression towards a hydrogen economy. Alternate Energy Corporation (’’AEC’’) has a stand-alone unit whose chemical process creates hydrogen locally, and can deliver just the amount needed to run an Astris E8 generator. AEC is currently packaging the two units together to sell starting next year.
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Astris Energi Inc. (OTC BB: ASRNF) - Producer of low cost fuel cells that can operate in a wide range of temperature conditions with very fast start-up. Astris is a late-stage development company committed to becoming the leading provider of affordable, non-platinum Alkaline Fuel Cells and fuel cell generators internationally. Over the past 21 years, more than $17 million has been spent on the development of Astris’ AFC. The company has started pilot production of its POWERSTACK™ technology at its plant in the Czech Republic. Astris is the only publicly traded company in North America focused exclusively on the alkaline fuel cell.
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