Abstracts in this Pattern:
The commercialization of fuel-cell vehicles (FCVs) is lagging behind the commercialization of electric vehicles (EVs). FCVs use hydrogen as fuel, and the fueling infrastructure that FCVs require remains a key barrier to the vehicles' commercialization. The development of hydrogen stations and consumer adoption of FCVs are locked in a catch-22 situation: Without readily available hydrogen stations, consumers are hesitant to purchase FCVs; without consumers to purchase FCVs, companies are hesitant to develop the fueling infrastructure necessary to make hydrogen stations readily available. Industrial-gas manufacturer The Linde Group (Munich, Germany) is hoping to overcome this dilemma by launching the first car-sharing program for FCVs. BeeZero (https://beezero.com/en), which is launching in Munich, Germany, could facilitate growth of the FCV market and provide incentives for the wider adoption of FCVs and hydrogen stations. Recent developments in fuel-cell technology could bypass the problem of hydrogen infrastructure altogether. In June 2016, Nissan Motor Company (Yokohama, Japan) announced that it is developing the world's first bioethanol-fuel-powered solid-oxide-fuel-cell vehicle. Ethanol is easier to integrate with existing petroleum infrastructures than is hydrogen, and the technology—which Nissan wants to commercialize by 2020—could kick-start the FCV market.
And scientists are developing novel materials to advance fuel-cell technology. Recently, researchers from the University of California, Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz, California), and colleagues from other institutions discovered an organic material with high proton conductivity. This discovery could lead to the development of biomimetic proton-conducting materials with improved conductivity and durability, and such materials could find use as fuel-cell membranes. In addition, uncertainty in the supply and cost of lithium and other raw materials in use in the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries could ultimately drive the commercialization of FCVs. The growing portable-electronics and EV markets are increasing global demand for economical high-performance batteries. As a result, the cost of lithium carbonate in China, for instance, has tripled since mid-2015, and ongoing disputes between mining companies and the government of Chile—home to the world's largest lithium reserves—are stalling production growth of the metal.
The Development of this Pattern
The Linde Group is launching the first car-sharing program for FCVs.
Nissan Motor Company is developing the world's first bioethanol-fuel-powered solid-oxide-fuel-cell vehicle.
Uncertainty in the supply and cost of lithium and other raw materials in use in the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries could ultimately drive the commercialization of FCVs.
Renewed Interest in Fuel-Cell Vehicles
Various developments in business models, technological advances, and resource availability are renewing interest in the use of fuel-cell technology in vehicles.
- SoC063 — Ethanol on the Move (July 2004)
The U.S. fuel-ethanol industry is reaching new production records monthly. Annual production increased by 30% in 2003, in large part because of ethanol's substitution for the nonbiodegradable octane booster MTBE in gasoline. According to the Renewable Fuels Association, production could grow another 18% in 2004 to more than 3.3 billion gallons of ethanol.
- SoC391 — Narrowing Automotive-Energy Options (August 2009)
This Signal of Change reviews energy options in the automotive arena at a time when the recession is forcing both governments and companies to make hard choices.
- SoC652 — Hypersegmenting the Automotive Market (May 2013)
Automotive manufacturers could find themselves adopting segmentation strategies more commonly in use in product categories that have shorter product-life cycles.
- SoC815 — New Batteries, New Business Models (August 2015)
Manufacturers and installers can use unique sales and lease strategies to sell inexpensive prepackaged batteries.
- P0832 — The Electric-Vehicle Market Is Moving (October 2015)
An increasing number of automotive manufacturers are entering the electric-vehicle and battery-technology markets.
- P0842 — The Pace of Electric-Vehicle-Battery Development (November 2015)
The pace of developments that relate to batteries for electric vehicles is accelerating on various fronts.