In 1839, the fuel cell principle was discovered by lawyer and physicist Sir William Grove. This was decades before the internal combustion engine was invented.
In 1874, Jules Verne drew a future fuelled by Hydrogen. And yet, the technology languished.
In the 1960s, with no other recourse for making significant electric generation portable, NASA reached back and brought fuel cells into the space race on the Apollo missions. The fuel cells were hand-crafted out of rare materials, still pretty much one-off exotics.
In the 1980s, earnest research started on fuel cell energy alternatives, what with the oil-crises that started to crop up.
In the 1990s, automakers began prototyping fuel cell vehicles, FCVs as we now call them.
In 2001, Tom Koppel Ph.D. and Jay Reynolds wrote the classic paper from which we culled these snippets.
And now, instead of paraphrasing Dr. Koppel and Mr. Reynolds any further, we give you the link to their work, “A Fuel Cell Primer: The Promise and the Pitfalls,” kept safe all these years in the web space of the University of Connecticut’s School of Engineering: http://www.engr.uconn.edu/~jmfent/FuelCell%20Primer.pdf.