Fuel Cells Make a Comeback

Written By Christian DeHaemer

Posted November 14, 2013

It was more than 10 years ago that George Bush the younger declared fuel cells would one day replace the internal combustion engine.

This was a time when Ballard Energy (NASDAQ: BLDP) was looking like a flaming rocket ship of happiness.

They put fuel cells on buses, and you could drink water out of the tailpipe!

Journalists came running to Ballard’s factory to write the story…

The stock went from pennies to $145 in no time before falling back to $1.35 a share, where it sits today.

Such is the fate for the darlings of Wall Street.


For those who don’t know, fuel cells convert chemical energy into electrical energy through an electromechanical reaction.

You can think of it as a battery; the only difference is that the fuel is supplied from outside.

This makes it a bit like an engine that converts fuel into electricity without burning it.

The most common fuel cell is the proton exchange membrane (PEM), which uses hydrogen by splitting H2O into its component parts.

Other fuels, such as methane from biomass, methanol, natural gas, and hydrocarbon, can also be used.

Hydrogen fuel cells have zero emissions aside from water, so they are clean.

The problem is that hydrogen fuel cells have yet to reach the point of economic feasibility when it comes to cars. However, the price is dropping as the technology improves. Both Honda and Hyundai will have fuel cells in their 2014 lineups.

Fuel Cell Phones

One of the most recent examples of fuel cells finding a niche market is with smartphones.

As we all know, new phones are constantly dying…

One company has the solution.

Intelligent Energy just released the Upp fuel cell system, with the idea of marketing it for use in Africa and other places that lack reliable access to power.

The Upp is small, weighing only 620 grams, and runs on hydrogen fuel cartridges. Just stick it in your USB port, and it will give you 25 watt hours, which is equal to five full battery charges.

The company claims the Upp can charge phones, tablets, et al as fast as any outlet can, and that cartridges will be made available in the markets they serve, starting with the phone stores and moving to other retailers.

The Upp will also come with an app that provides information on usage and remaining life, as well as other bells and whistles.

The cost at this point is $199, with the cartridges yet to be priced.

Though the Upp will satisfy a niche market, it is a foreshadowing of things to come.

As the market grows, the price will drop.

One can envision a world where fuel cells replace batteries in everything from laptops to drones, with cartridges sold at the 7-Eleven alongside lottery tickets.

All the best,

Christian DeHaemer Signature

Christian DeHaemer

follow basicCheck us out on YouTube!

Christian is the founder of Bull and Bust Report and an editor at Energy and Capital. For more on Christian, see his editor’s page.

Angel Publishing Investor Club Discord - Chat Now

Hydrogen Fuel Cells: The Downfall of Tesla?

Lithium has been the front-runner in the battery technology market for years, but that is all coming to an end. Elon Musk is against them, but Jeff Bezos is investing heavily in them. Hydrogen Fuel Cells will turn the battery market upside down and we've discovered a tiny company that is going to make it happen...

Sign up to receive your free report. After signing up, you'll begin receiving the Energy and Capital e-letter daily.