Technology

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology A ‘Scam’: Tesla Co-Founder

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is not a fan of hydrogen fuel cell technology, and it is not a secret to anyone as the electric car creator has called hydrogen fuel cell technology “mind-bogglingly stupid” and “silly.” Hydrogen fuel cell technology is the other green power being considered by automakers.Tesla FuelCell Energy logo

Competing green technology a scam: Tesla Co-founder

After Musk, now Marc Tarpenning, a Tesla co-founder, shared his thoughts on hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Tarpenning called hydrogen fuel cell vehicles “a scam” on an Internet History Podcast. Fuel cell technology, which has been around for over 100 years, runs on the electricity created from bonding hydrogen and oxygen. The only byproducts of fuel cell cars are heat and water, proponents of the technology say about its environmentally-friendly attributes. Nevertheless, some are not a fan of the technology. Tarpenning said hydrogen is uniquely bad.

“There’s a saying in the auto industry: Hydrogen is the future of transportation and always will be. And it’s a scam as far as I can tell, because the energy equation is terrible,” the executive said.

Further, Tarpenning argues that hydrogen is difficult to get, compress and use in fuel, even when it is very abundant. He added that on a planet where people live, all the hydrogen is very reactive.

“It’s bound up into water, wood and everything else,” said the Tesla co-founder.

Tarpenning added that to make hydrogen a viable electricity generator, one has to expend a lot of energy. This is done through electrolysis, in which putting electricity into water separates the hydrogen and oxygen. But once the hydrogen is separated from the oxygen, it has to be compressed, which takes more energy. According to Tarpenning, electric batteries use energy more efficiently in comparison to hydrogen fuel cell technology.

Electric vehicles vs. hydrogen-powered vehicles

Consumers are the main focus when it comes to positioning in favor of fuel cell vehicles. Toyota is currently focused on building fuel cell cars. Toyota has been called the “the most anti-EV mass-market car company” despite building a popular line of hybrid vehicles. According to Toyota, hydrogen-powered vehicles have a leg up.

According to USA Today, the recently introduced hydrogen fueled car by Toyota named the Mirai can go about 300 miles on one tank and takes about four minutes to refuel. But lack of infrastructure limits its reach as there are astonishingly few stations where drivers can fill up. Refueling stations for electric cars are growing, and according to the Alternative Fuels Data Center, there are 13,491 charging stations and 33,162 charging outlets in the U.S. now.

Also, fuel cell cars have to compete on price. The Toyota Mirai costs $58,335, and it is only being sold in California currently. Chevy and Nissan sell electric cars for around $30,000, whereas Tesla started taking orders for its $35,000 Model 3 recently.