Fuel Cell Development Agreement Signed

The BBC News has a report that a new agreement to develop fuel-cell technology has been reached by three major auto manufacturers: Ford, Daimler AG, and the Renault-Nissan alliance.   The aim of the joint project is to speed up the development of fuel cells as an automotive power source, and also to encourage the development of supporting infrastructure (e.g., hydrogen filling stations).

Ford, Renault-Nissan and Daimler have agreed to jointly develop a fuel cell system to try to speed up the availability of zero-emission vehicles.

The carmakers hope to launch “the world’s first affordable, mass-market fuel cell car” by 2017.

Fuel cells, which produce electricity by combining hydrogen and oxygen, are an environmentally attractive technology because their “exhaust” product is water.  To date, though, they have not seen widespread use, except in specialized applications like the space program, because the cost of manufacturing the devices is too high,  But Daimler, at least, has been interested for some time; back in 2009, I wrote about the development of prototype fuel-cell vehicles by Mercedes-Benz.  Work on the project will be carried out at several locations around the world.  The partners hope that their combined global presence will also increase the visibility and impact of the project.

The companies have issued a joint press release.

Update Monday, 28 January, 21:55 EST

Wired also has an article on this development, focused especially on the infrastructure issues involved.

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