The automobile industry are faced with two basic problems of one dwindling of petroleum resources which are non replenishable and second increasing stringent standard regarding pollutants in automobile exhaust which are difficult to meet when petro fuels are used . The two factors are driving the auto industry to search for better propulsion solution, which abjure petroleum based fuels. The alternative energy systems being instigated which may be commercially viable are electric device, hydrogen as combustion fuel and fuel cell power. Big auto giant like Daimler Benz (now diamler Chrysler) has chosen to concentrate on fuel cell alternate as be cause of the following reasons:-
The fuel cell cars are much more efficient:-
The fuel cell cars are more at par in terms of power, dynamic performance and serviceability.
Fuel cells are lighter than conventional lead-acid batteries and offer a greater range between refueling stops.
The fuel cell gives off “no” harmful emission.
Fuel cells are ideally suited to volume built product, making for competitive cost.
German researchers have made a portable PC with fuel cells and micro-electrolysis tubes, while an American company is developing mobile telephones with fuel cells. Application areas for fuel cells are many. The advantage is low weight and long lifetime.
Fuel cells can also be used in stationary powerplants. IFC/ONSI, who make fuel cells for NASA, have since 1992 delivered 120 PC25 units (PAFC) of 200 kWe (kilowatts electrical) and these all together have had an operating life of around two million hours. The price of these is 3-4.5 million Norwegian Crowns (NOK). Westinghouse/Siemens will in the year 2000 deliver mass-produced solid oxide fuel cell plants in the region of 1-20 MW with an investment price of NOK 9,000-11,000 per kW. Westinghouse has developed their own type of SOFC with tube-shaped cells. Up until now, two of these have been in continuous operation for 8 years. They claim an electrical efficiency of 70%, while a further 20% can be used for heating. The largest fuel cell power station to date is 11 MWe and is Japanese. Through its WE-NET programme, the Japanese state is putting NOK 23 billion into research and development of hydrogen up to the year 2020. The price of fuel cells is still very high and is a barrier for introduction on a large scale. When mass production of fuel cells is under way, the price can be expected to fall to a competitive level (US$ 20-50 per kW). Today, 1 g of platinum is used for 1 kW of fuel cells, on average. Today's PEM fuel cells weigh around 1 kg/kW.