An interesting battle is brewing over the hydrogen economy with the Obama administration doubting that fuel cells will make much of a difference over the next ten years to be worth funding and describing the decision as a reduction of “less effective programs so we can invest in our economic future.”
Honda, Toyota & General Motors have grumbled bitterly about this as all three have invested heavily in fuel cell research and have a vested interest in the US Government putting up the billions needed to develop a hydrogen infrastructure.
The key problem is hydrogen storage, ever since we found that carbon nanotubes were spectacularly useless as storing hydrogen there just hasn’t been enough convincing progress on this issue. Compare this to what has been happening in batteries where everyone from A123 to Altair have been applying nanomaterials to produce lighter and faster charging batteries and you can understand the DoE shifting its priorities from the clean tech equivalent of nuclear fusion to something a bit more tangible.
If we want a longer term research project, I’d back using synthetic biology to produce a renewable source of petrol. The current proposals to add noises to electric vehicles to stop people sneaking up on blind people and squashing them is as ridiculous as vegetarian bacon when you can have the full throated roar of a V8 instead.