Document Type

Closed Project

Publication Date

Winter 2002


Dundar Kocaoglu

Course Title

Management of Engineering and Technology

Course Number

EMGT 520/620


Fuel cells, Technology -- Management, Renewable eneergy sources, Technological innovations -- Management, Product life cycle


Fuel cell is one of the most promising technologies for meeting energy needs of the U.S. as well as world well into the new century. Unlike power plants that use conventional technologies, fuel cell plants that generate electricity and usable heat can be built in a wide range of sizes-from 200-kW units suitable for powering commercial buildings to 100- m W plants that can add base load capacity to utility power plants.

Researchers in universities and government laboratories and commercial businesses continue to explore, develop, and improve upon the processes and technologies needed to make the fuel cell a reliable and cost-effective alternative power source. The need for renewable, environmentally friendly energy sources is becoming more important in today's world. President Bush says, "Fuel cells will power cars with little or no waste at all. We happen to believe that fuel cell cars are the wave of the future; that fuel cells offer incredible opportunity."

Within the context of mounting pressures on existing resources and the environment, fuel cell systems can and probably will play a major role in near future. Fuel Cell technology is vying to be the next great industrial revolution: clean, decentralized energy, powered by hydrogen.

Fuel cell commercialization opportunities in the U.S. market are currently focused on several sectors namely transportation, central power plants, and industrial and commercial/residential generation. These efforts are being driven by four major challenges that fuel cells are uniquely able to address:

  • Build-up of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases is leading to global warming with unpredictable but potentially catastrophic consequences.
  • Emissions of toxic pollutants from burning fossil fuels are damaging the environment and people's health
  • World oil production will decline in the next 10-20 years and dependence on a few energy rich nations will significantly increase threatening the Energy security and price
  • Deregulation of the electricity supply industry is changing the market. New companies are entering the market offering energy services based on distributed on-site power generation. This segment of the energy market is likely to grow rapidly and utilities will have to adapt to the opportunity and challenge.

This report is going to analyze the present status of fuel cell technology development and commercialization efforts to fulfill the future energy demands. As part of our study we will look at the technology life cycle of fuel cell technology and how it's going to evolve into mainstream market by identifying the present growth. We then discuss the issues involved in making this technology viable for economic and industry growth followed by the factors, which can influence the technology to get into matured stage.


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