Hydrogen Fuel Cells - Research
Hydrogen Fuel Cells and Alternatives in the Transport Sector: Issues for Developing Countries
Project Coordinator: Professor Lynn K. Mytelka
This project grew out of work on 'new wave technologies' and exclusion of developing countries carried out at UNU-INTECH (now UNU-MERIT). It is now a UNU research and capacity building initiative organized by UNU-MERIT in partnership with UNU-ESD and UNU-GTP. The purpose of the project is to raise awareness of emergent hydrogen and fuel cell technologies and to enhance long-term transport and energy decision-making in developing countries by benchmarking hydrogen fuel cell activities in the transport sector around the world.
The questions related to fuel cells and hydrogen and developing countries revolve around three broad issues:
- New wave technologies such as hydrogen and fuel cells require a conscious effort to build domestic knowledge based capabilities and undertake research in situ. New wave technologies are characterized by their science base, patent intensity and 'embeddedness' in other technological systems. These factors pose relatively high entry barriers for most developing countries and, as biotechnology and information technologies illustrate, have made 'catching up' difficult. What institutions and networks are required to develop science and policy readiness and to avoid lost or delayed opportunities?
- The importance of knowledge about new technologies in evaluating alternatives and planning transport transitions. Among the range of emerging technologies (improved conventional fuels, biofuels, CNG, hybrid vehicles), what is the role of hydrogen and fuel cells and what knowledge is required to make good decisions in regard to technological research, education, industrial planning, and long term infrastructure investments?
- The role of transportation in growing levels of greenhouse gas emissions and oil dependence in developing countries. Technological innovation has a key role to play in reducing vehicle emissions and oil dependency. What is the role for fuel cells and hydrogen in the medium or long term to deal with these global problems?
These issues are discussed in more detail in the UNU Policy Brief Hydrogen Fuel Cells and Transport Alternatives: Issues for Developing Countries