Natural Resource Limitations Make Fuel Cell Cars Non-starters... For Now.

Resource commentator Jack Lifton says there's not enough platinum or palladium and other rare earth metals to make fuel cell cars affordable.

Published: 23-Jan-2009

Implications: The fuel cell in the Honda Clarity is the source of electricity for the electric motors that drive the car. The fuel for the fuel cell is hydrogen gas, which can be plentifully produced either by the simple electrolysis of water or by chemical processing of natural gas or ammonia both of which chemicals are widely distributed throughout our society. Why then is no one moving to create a hydrogen production and distribution system so that fuel cells of the type used by the Honda Clarity can be mass produced? It's simple; there isn't enough platinum to make such a move practical now or ever.

Analysis: The global production of platinum group metals reached an annualized all time high in early 2008; it was running at a total of nearly 474 tons for all of them added together; individually we had platinum (220 tons), palladium (220 tons), rhodium (27 tons), and ruthenium (27 tons) being produced in Southern Africa, Russia, Canada, and the USA in descending order of percentage of the total.

In ounces, the unit in which platinum group metals are usually counted, this was around 16,000,000 troy (3.1grams each( ounces, the traditional measure for 'precious' metals.


Powered by a 100 kW electric engine and fuel cell stack, the i-Blue is capable of running more than 370 miles per refueling and achieves a maximum speed of more than 100 miles per hour.

Based on the full-size 2007 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 HD pickup truck, the vehicle underwent extensive internal modifications to meet the technical demands and requirements needed to run on a compressed hydrogen fuel system.

In the Quadrivium Fuel Cells system, the various components are distributed around the car, with four fuel cells positioned near to the wheels.


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