Tip Sheets

In push towards electric cars, batteries and fuel cells both in the mix

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Jeff Tyson

As electric vehicles come into the mainstream, tech enthusiasts are watching closely to see whether batteries or hydrogen fuel cells become the dominant power source for the cars of the future. But both technologies have asserted their value to automakers and can even work in concert, according to a Cornell University expert.

Paul Mutolo

Director of External Partnerships, Energy Materials Center

Paul Mutolo, director of External Partnerships for the Energy Materials Center at Cornell University, says automakers are taking a “two-part approach” when it comes to battery and fuel cell technology.

Mutolo says: 

“Battery electric vehicles are improving in driving range (over 200 miles in many models), provide silent operation and zero tailpipe emissions. They are helping change drivers’ behaviors away from gasoline. But battery electric vehicles still require long recharge times (at least 20 minutes for a fast charge).

“Fuel cell electric vehicles solve these problems, providing 300-400 miles range, less than 5-minute refuel times, and are silent and zero emissions. And hydrogen companies like Proton Onsite and Standard Hydrogen Corp provide completely carbon-free hydrogen and help decarbonize the grid at the same time.

“It is exciting that GM is moving in this direction, and following this two-part approach: both battery electric and fuel cell electric vehicles. Other major auto companies (e.g. Toyota) are following a similar track. It’s two steps in the right direction.”

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