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Fuel Cells Nearing Commercialization

Issue 10 and Volume 102.

Fuel Cells Nearing Commercialization

News Update

By Ann Chambers,

Associate Editor

The total market for fuel cells is projected to reach $1.3 billion by 2003, up from an estimated $355 million in 1998, according to a new study “Fuel Cells: On the Verge,” by Business Communications Company Inc. of Norwalk, Conn.

This reflects an average annual growth rate of 29.5 percent. Phosphoric acid and solid polymer types of fuel cells will see the strongest growth over the next five years, followed by alkaline and molten carbonate types. Solid oxide fuel cells will show the slowest growth.

While the fuel cell market has grown steadily over the past several years, there are two major obstacles to widespread use of fuel cells–their high initial manufacturing cost and their relatively short operating lives. These shortcomings are the focus of current technological research and development efforts.

Despite these technology issues, phosphoric acid fuel cells are expected to climb at an annual rate of 43 percent. Valued at $41 million in 1998, the report predicts sales of $250 million by 2003.

Solid polymer fuel cells will see a dramatic increase in revenues over the next few years. The report estimates this segment at approximately $80 million for 1998, and predicts an annual growth rate of 41 percent, for a $450 million value in 2003.

The alkaline and molten carbonate fuel cell segments are each seen growing by 28 percent. Alkalines are expected to reach $60 million in 2003 while molten carbonates should approach $350 million. p