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November 13-15, 2005
Beijing, China

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December 13-15, 2005
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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February 20-22, 200
Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
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June 20-23, 200
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

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Posted on  

October 17, 2001

Fuel cell cars face obstacles, but said viable in Calif

Fuel cell vehicles can be commercially viable in California, North America's largest auto market, but a focused development effort and government help are needed to get them on the road, according to a study released Tuesday.

The study, prepared for a private-public coalition testing the environmentally friendly vehicles, is one of the first detailed examinations of the hurdles faced by a technology that is sometimes hailed as a replacement for the internal combustion engine.

Car designers still faces obstacles, such as creating adequate fuel processing equipment on the vehicles, but if progress continues "all other challenges to (fuel cell vehicle) commercialization can be overcome," according to the study for the California Fuel Cell Partnership.

Fuel cells produce electricity from hydrogen by using a chemical reaction, but developers are at odds over what fuels the cars will reformulate to get the hydrogen. Alternatives range from special gasolines to methanol and ethanol.

The study said commercialization will come faster if developers agree the first cars on the market will use compressed hydrogen, and allow time to develop the equipment needed to reformulate hydrogen from liquid fuels.

"Automakers, fuel providers and government of all level must co-operate to develop an adequate public demand for FCV (fuel cell vehicles)," according to the study.

Automakers have forecast their first fuel cell vehicles would reach consumers between 2003 and 2005, but researchers warn it could take several years to reach a commercialization target of 2 to 5 percent of all vehicles sold in California.

California is seen as the first major market for fuel cell cars because the state's air pollution problems have forced it to push the automobile makers into developing alternatives to the petroleum-burning internal combustion engine.

The fuel cell is considered a green technology because the only direct byproducts of the process are heat and water, but the study cautions the vehicles are not "zero emission" because the fuel reformulating equipment creates pollutants.  


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