Fuel cells 'need political push'

The world must actively push for alternative energy technologies such as fuel cells, says Sir David King, the UK government's chief scientific advisor. But there needs to be a cultural shift in energy production, he told delegates at a fuel cell symposium in London. Humans had to adapt to climate change, he said, but government could encourage wide adoption of new technologies.

1 Hydrogen: Constantly pumped in at negative terminal
2 Oxygen: Pumped in at opposite positive terminal
3 Catalyst: Helps electrons break free from hydrogen atoms
4 Membrane: Allows hydrogen ions through but blocks electrons
5 Circuit: Electrons flow through circuit to positive terminal
6 Electrons and hydrogen ions combine with oxygen, forming water

Fuel cells convert the chemical energy stored in fuels, such as hydrogen and methanol, into electrical energy. They are seen as a great clean energy hope for future sustainable power generation. Fuel cells are being refined for use at the small scale; there are laptop computers using methanol-powered cells, for instance. And on the larger scale, too, the technology is making progress - to drive cars and buses, and to power buildings not connected to a national grid. (BBC News)

It is evident now that there is a critical need to accelerate the fuelcell or alternative fuel front to make it viable to use commercially. There is fairly lil effort in this area, partly due to investment of a totally new infrastructure from producing, shipping and distributing these new energies. But it is hopeful with the new oil crisis now here to stay for a while, so, why not take the oppurtunity to do just that.

Countries in Europe are ideal to lead this effort. Firstly, the masses have some level environmental conscience and they have invested in the research. While in Asia, Japan is leading the way. Based on current know-how, we could be driving fuel-cell cars in ten years time, afterall, the Toyota Prius is used commercially for some time now.