Bulletin of Materials Science

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 207–214

The promise of fuel cell-based automobiles

  • A. K. Shukla
  • C. L. Jackson
  • K. Scott


Fuel cell-based automobiles have gained attention in the last few years due to growing public concern about urban air pollution and consequent environmental problems. From an analysis of the power and energy requirements of a modern car, it is estimated that a base sustainable power ofca. 50 kW supplemented with short bursts up to 80 kW will suffice in most driving requirements. The energy demand depends greatly on driving characteristics but under normal usage is expected to be 200 Wh/km. The advantages and disadvantages of candidate fuel-cell systems and various fuels are considered together with the issue of whether the fuel should be converted directly in the fuel cell or should be reformed to hydrogen onboard the vehicle. For fuel cell vehicles to compete successfully with conventional internal-combustion engine vehicles, it appears that direct conversion fuel cells using probably hydrogen, but possibly methanol, are the only realistic contenders for road transportation applications. Among the available fuel cell technologies, polymer-electrolyte fuel cells directly fueled with hydrogen appear to be the best option for powering fuel cell vehicles as there is every prospect that these will exceed the performance of the internal-combustion engine vehicles but for their first cost. A target cost of $ 50/kW would be mandatory to make polymer-electrolyte fuel cells competitive with the internal combustion engines and can only be achieved with design changes that would substantially reduce the quantity of materials used. At present, prominent car manufacturers are deploying important research and development efforts to develop fuel cell vehicles and are projecting to start production by 2005.


Polymer-electrolyte fuel cells fuel cell-based automobiles fuel cell vehicles internal-combustion engine vehicles direct methanol fuel cells 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Acres G J K 2001J. Power Sources 100 60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aricò A S, Srinivasan S and Antonucci V 2001Fuel Cells 11 Google Scholar
  3. Bar-On I, Kirchain R and Roth R 2002J. Power Sources 109 71CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barton S C, Patterson T, Wang E, Fuller T F and West A C 2001J. Power Sources 96 329CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Carrette L, Friedrich K A and Stimming U 2001Fuel Cells 1 5CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Electric Vehicles: Technology, Performance and Potential 1993OECD/IEA Publication Google Scholar
  7. Friedlmeier G, Friedrich J and Panik F 2001Fuel Cells 1 92CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Jeong K S and Oh B S 2002J. Power Sources 105 58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Kordesch K and Simader G 1994Fuel cells and their applications (Weinheim: VCH)Google Scholar
  10. Lamy C and Léger J-M 1997 inProc. 2nd international symposium on new materials for fuel cells and modern battery systems (eds) O Savadoga and P R Roberge (Montreal, Canada) pp 477–488Google Scholar
  11. Lamy C, Léger J-M and Srinivasan S 2000Modern aspects of electrochemistry (eds) J O’M Bockris and B E Conway (New York: Plenum Press)Vol. 34, Ch. 3, pp 53–117Google Scholar
  12. Lamy C, Lima A, LeRuhn V, Delime F, Contanceau C and Léger J-M 2002J. Power Sources 105 181Google Scholar
  13. Larminie J and Dicks A 2000Fuel cell systems explained (New York: Wiley)Google Scholar
  14. Mcnicol B D, Rand D A J and Williams K R W 2001J. Power Sources 100 47CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Nolte RJ. Power Sources (in press)Google Scholar
  16. Ogden J M, Steinbugler M M and Kreutz T G 1999J. Power Sources 79 143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Priestnall M A, Kotzeva V P and Fish D J 2002J. Power Sources 106 21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ren X, Zelanay P, Thomas S, Davey J and Gottesfeld S 2000J. Power Sources 86 11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Scott K, Shukla A K, Jackson C L and Meuleman W R A, unpublishedGoogle Scholar
  20. Shukla A K, Avery N R and Muddle B C 1999Curr. Sci. 77 1141Google Scholar
  21. Shukla A K, Aricò A S and Antonucci V 2001Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 5 137CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Staff Report 1998 Zero-Emission Vehicles Biennial Program Review, California Air Resource BoardGoogle Scholar
  23. Thomas C E, James B D, Lomax Jr F D and Kuhn Jr I F 2000J. Power Sources 25 551Google Scholar
  24. Wicks F E and Marchionne D 1992Proc. 27th intersociety energy conversion engineering conference (Warrendale: IEEE)3 p. 151Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Indian Academy of Sciences 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. K. Shukla
    • 1
  • C. L. Jackson
    • 1
    • 2
  • K. Scott
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Solid State and Structural Chemistry UnitIndian Institute of ScienceBangaloreIndia
  2. 2.School of Chemical Engineering and Advanced Materials, Merz CourtUniversity of NewcastleNewcastle upon TyneUK

Personalised recommendations