Fuel-cell vehicles (FCVs) are still unlikely to be seen on the roads in great numbers before 2015 - 2020, making patents which expire in 20 years far less useful than they otherwise would be. But the massive R&D dollars required to move fuel-cell technology forward, and the potential sales that could result from a successful design, are motivating fuel-cell developers to try and protect their investment.
Fuel Cells Works reports a patent attorney studying the trends as saying that there are five areas of hydrogen fuel-cell development that must be worked on to achieve mass-production in FCVs:
- Reducing cost of the catalyst
- Onboard hydrogen storage
- Infrastructure development
- Reducing membrane cost
- Water management