There are two main problems with hydrogen. First, there is no energy efficient source of hydrogen that doesn't use fossil fuels and is cleaner than a hybrid. The physics of this isn't going to change, ever, and there almost no chance of some sudden scientific breakthrough that will be cheap and instantly engineered into a car in the next 5 or 10 years. Second is the small problem of the cost of fuel cells. ......................o~'oThis is from a Popular Science article on 10 myths and misconceptions and why hydrogen powered cars are not just around the corner.http://www.popsci.com/popsci/generaltech/article/0,20967,927469,00.html excerpts.....1. HYDROGEN IS AN ABUNDANT FUELTrue, hydrogen is the most common element in the universe; it's so plentiful that the sun consumes 600 million tons of it every second. But unlike oil, vast reservoirs of hydrogen don't exist here on Earth. Instead, hydrogen atoms are bound up in molecules with other elements, and we must expend energy to extract the hydrogen so it can be used in fuel cells. We'll never get more energy out of hydrogen than we put into it. 2. HYDROGEN FUEL CELLS WILL END GLOBAL WARMINGUnlike internal combustion engines, hydrogen fuel cells do not emit carbon dioxide. But extracting hydrogen from natural gas, today's primary source, does. And wresting hydrogen from water through electrolysis takes tremendous amounts of energy. If that energy comes from power plants burning fossil fuels, the end product may be clean hydrogen, but the process used to obtain it is still dirty. 3. THE HYDROGEN ECONOMY CAN RUN ON RENEWABLE ENERGYPerform electrolysis with renewable energy, such as solar or wind power, and you eliminate the pollution issues associated with fossil fuels and nuclear power. Trouble is, renewable sources can provide only a small fraction of the energy that will be required for a full-fledged hydrogen economy. 4. HYDROGEN GAS LEAKS ARE NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUTHydrogen gas is odorless and colorless, and it burns almost invisibly. A tiny fire may go undetected at a leaky fuel pump until your pant leg goes up in flames. And it doesn't take much to set compressed hydrogen gas alight. “A cellphone or a lightning storm puts out enough static discharge to ignite hydrogen,” claims Joseph Romm, author of The Hype about Hydrogen: Fact and Fiction in the Race to Save the Climate and founder of the Center for Energy and Climate Solutions in Arlington, Virginia. 5. CARS ARE THE NATURAL FIRST APPLICATION FOR HYDROGEN FUEL CELLS“An economically sane, cost-effective attack on the climate problem wouldn't start with cars,” David Keith says. Cars and light trucks contribute roughly 20 percent of the carbon dioxide emitted in the U.S., while power plants burning fossil fuels are responsible for more than 40 percent of C02 emissions. Fuel cells designed for vehicles must cope with harsh conditions and severe limitations on size and weight. 6. THE U.S. IS COMMITTED TO HYDROGEN, POURING BILLIONS INTO R&DConsider this: President George W. Bush promised to spend $1.2 billion on hydrogen. Yet he allotted $1.5 billion to promote “healthy marriages.” The monthly tab for the war in Iraq is $3.9 billion—a total of $121 billion through last September. In 2004 the Department of Energy spent more on nuclear and fossil fuel research than on hydrogen. 7. IF ICELAND CAN DO IT, SO CAN WEIceland's first hydrogen fueling station is already operating on the outskirts of Reykjavík. The hydrogen, which powers a small fleet of fuel cell buses, is produced onsite from electrolyzed tap water. Meanwhile the recently formed Icelandic New Energy—a consortium that includes automakers, Royal Dutch/Shell and the Icelandic power company Norsk Hydro—is planning to convert the rest of the island nation to a hydrogen system. 8. MASS PRODUCTION WILL MAKE HYDROGEN CARS AFFORDABLESimply mass-producing fuel cell cars won't necessarily slash costs. According to Patrick Davis, the former leader of the Department of Energy's fuel cell research team, “If you project today's fuel cell technologies into high-volume production—about 500,000 vehicles a year—the cost is still up to six times too high.” 9. FUEL CELL CARS CAN DRIVE HUNDREDS OF MILES ON A SINGLE TANK OF HYDROGENA gallon of gasoline contains about 2,600 times the energy of a gallon of hydrogen. If engineers want hydrogen cars to travel at least 300 miles between fill-ups—the automotive-industry benchmark—they'll have to compress hydrogen gas to extremely high pressures: up to 10,000 pounds per square inch.
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