Samsung SDI Drops Fuel Cell Development Program

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Originally published on Gas2.

Samsung SDI says it is ridding itself of all money losing ventures to focus on doing what it does best — building world class batteries for the electronics and automotive sectors. That focus has led to a decision to abandon its fuel cell development program entirely. According to a spokesman for the company, “Samsung SDI decided to drop fuel cell related business projects, as the outlook of the market isn’t good.”


Samsung will sell all of its fuel cell related equipment for a “few million dollars,” he said. That money will then be re-invested in divisions the company considers essential to its future success, including battery development. Starting last year, Samsung began to close all its unprofitable divisions. That includes its chemical division and plasma display program. Samsung SDI is now focused almost exclusively on batteries for electric cars, EV-related parts, and general purpose lithium ion batteries.

A report in Korea Times says, “Samsung SDI plans to invest more than $2.5 billion in batteries for EVs and the EV-related parts businesses over the next five years in what the company believes is enough to become the world’s top battery supplier by 2020.”

Samsung brought an array of advanced batteries to the Detroit auto show earlier this year. It says it expects to have a battery with more than 300 miles of range available in a few years. It is also heavily involved in the market for 48 volts battery systems that will allow conventional cars to achieve significant fuel economy gains for less than it costs to build a fully electric car. Such low voltage hybrid systems are expected to play an important role as the transportation industry transitions to a carbon free future.

48 volt systems do not require heavy and expensive shielding the way traditional batteries with high voltage batteries do. That saves manufacturers both weight and money. The 48 volt systems can handle such chores as operating air conditioning compressors, oil pumps, water pumps, electric steering systems as well as other auxiliary devices. That puts less load on engines, lowering emissions and boosting fuel economy. Look for more 48 volts systems in passenger cars in the near future.

Source: Inside EVs

Reprinted with permission.

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."

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55 thoughts on “Samsung SDI Drops Fuel Cell Development Program

  • The only reason fuel cell vehicles were pushed by the Bush administration in the 2000’s was because *they knew for sure it wouldn’t work and it wouldn’t be economical*. The 100% perfect definition of crony capitalism.

    If your friend is in natural gas, put all government funding into something you know cannot work. IE, you put all resources into fool cells instead of batteries and EVs.

    Crony Capitalism can’t beat the free market though.

    • If crony capitalism cannot beat free markets, we would already have 100% electrified road transportation as electric car technology was ready for prime time 10 years ago. But gm, Toyota, Volkswagen and Nissan and other cronies managed to push electric cars away, by manipulating e. G. Emission standards. And it took from tiny and resource poor Tesla 10 years to develop EV tech to mature stage. And Tesla had to do this all alone.

      • Please tone it down a bit. Nissan was early in electric cars and has the most sold electric car.

        • it does not change the fact that Nissan Failed to make significant upgrades to Leaf. It has until now got 30 kWh battery but that is just joke, although Leaf should at least have 60 kWh battery with price tag 28 000 dollars. Then it would be competitively priced car, what we can expect from electric car technology today.

          Also Where as Tesla is selling more and more electric cars every year, Nissan’s EV sales are steadily declining. This is just outright ridiculous!

    • Na.. the kick was that the infrastructure and fuel to run on would still have been CENTRALLY organized.. nice rent-seeking-scheme based on a monopoly that they lined up there.

      The accidental uprising of powerful batteries (initially driven by laptops, mobile phones and battery driven hand tools) was what turned the tide here.
      If we haven’t had mobile phones, laptops and battery driven hand tools, we wouldn’t have an EV revolution now.

    • California zev committee and Mary Nichols. GM conspired to get 5:1 credits for FCEV vs EVs then killed the EV1

  • Okay Toyota and Honda, you’re next.

  • If you can not keep up with the leaders, drop it and start fooling with lithium batteries. All mediocre do that. There is a Hannover fair taking place right now, look at the developments and deploying of hydrogen fuel stations and transport in Europe. It is massive with tens of companies of different expertise from all over the world. You think they are gonna abandon it? Linde alone can push it.

    • Linde and friends can push hydrogen and fuel cell vehicles but they’re likely in a Sisyphusian situation in which their solution will keep slipping down the mountain due to fuel cost.

      Pay attention to the cost of hydrogen. Pay attention to the cost of driving a mile using hydrogen rather than electricity.

      Toyota says 17 cents a mile for hydrogen for their Mirai and 4 cents a mile for an EV. Toyota hopes for an eventual 10 cent mile cost for FCEVs.

      That’s Toyota talking.

      • It requires 60 kWh to produce 1 kg of H2 including compression. 1kg ~ 100km, so anybody can do the math.

        • The maths on that are not good.

          • But nobody say it is the final result. it is more or less the state-of-the-art hardware but it is improving. Besides, some electrolysers now can respond in less than a second, so they are not only taking the cheapest energy, when prices are actually negative, but can take payment for balancing the grid.

          • Nothing batteries can’t do cheaper.

          • You can not store big amount of energy with batteries. You charge it then you have to discharge it. An electrolyser can output it constantly you just have to provide a storage which is a surface vs volume of some expensive chemicals.

          • How will that help if it is not competitive? Then we rather pump up water don’t you think?

            I can’t see the advantage of hydrogen here.

          • You can store it and use it in different applications including mobile ones. Pump hydro can not be applied anywhere.

          • Look at the chart above posted by Zorba. You are wasting energy at every step of the process to fuel a FCEV. It’s a pointless exercise.

          • Why bother. Well-to-wheel now is 60kWh ~ 100km. Due to improved efficiencies it can be better in the future.

        • (troll-boy)

          • Many people resort to calling names when they don’t have an answer.

      • Sisyphusian…
        In Greek mythology Sisyphus (/ˈsɪsᵻfəs/;[2] Greek: Σίσυφος, Sísuphos) was the king of Ephyra (now known as Corinth). He was punished for his self-aggrandizing craftiness and deceitfulness by being forced to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, repeating this action for eternity.

    • Nothing is happening in Europe. Hydrogen is moving less than glacial…more like glass.

  • So the big boys, LG Chem, Panasonic and now Samsung are all manoeuvring for position and things are falling into place for them. The mist in the crystal ball is beginning to clear and anyone in the motor industry who still can’t see what is coming should be asked to clear their desks immediately. Well done Tesla and Nissan.

    • Agree with the rest, but you can’t put Tesla and Nissan in the same sentence.

      • They are both EVs. The only real difference being one of them goes further on a charge and does the job with far more pizazz. When historians of the future are scribbling away they will note that only two companies took a leap of faith at the start of the EV revolution, Tesla and Nissan. And for that reason I think they deserve to be in the same sentence.

    • > let’s not forget BYD

      And Renault.

    • Physic limitations to batteries are more serious. As far as FCEV are concerned, they dont have to push limits anymore. It is all in place, all feasible – it has a 700 km range, all tanks are tasted and are suited for the job, the $60k Honda price is high, but it is already lower than other 5 seats BEV cars though it is almost the first mass production FCEV.

      • Do you drive an FCEV?

        • No it is to expensive, but so are BEVs. But when both of them are cheap I would prefer a FCEV. Cheap meaning an ordinary ICE price.

          • The other problem is that your can’t refuel it.
            The upfront cost isn’t my concern. I am looking for the better TCO.
            BEVS should run at about half the cost of ICE cars per km.

            I don’t trust in FCEVs. I am not sure that parking FCEVs indoor in my house is very smart. You are not allowed to use underground parkhouses either.
            The fuel is still made from natgas.

    • The fuel cell vehicles on Honda, Toyota, and Hyundai are all battery/FC hybrids. They can use regen braking.

  • What excites me most about BEV’s is that it’s just such a simple system compared to everything else. What are the maintenance costs compared to ICE’s and FCEV’s? Much, much lower.

    If all we have from year to year are incremental increases in performance and decreases in cost for the batteries, then in 3-4 years who would consider buying anything but a BEV? My next car will be a BEV.

  • It’s quite a statement for a chaebol to say “we are getting out of this business”. Hyundai’s try-everything strategy is more typical. Guess which is doing better? Samsung is second behind Apple in smartphones, one of the three merchant chip foundries that compete with Intel, and does pretty well in TVs. They sell washing machines, but not toasters.

    • “we are getting out of this business” how much business is that?

      • They are burning all their data sheets. It’s a huge loss.

  • I can still see hydrogen production as a load balancing mechanism for renewables if the system doesn’t change for industry to take advantage of cheaper prices rather than shutting systems down (e.g. salt water –> fresh water production) when there’s excess production.

    Stored hydrogen has some advantages for backup power (heat, electric), and longer term energy storage. I’d love to see the technology improve enough so there’s a system of hydrogen providing localized backup power rather than natural gas in another 40 years or so. I think natural gas could still win on price and ease of storage/transport though.

    For transport, I think electric will win hands down. Even with larger vehicles, if more go autonomous, there’s no one complaining if it takes longer to recharge.

    • Why bother with complicated hydrogen storage when you can directly produce methane (my home country has 4 months worth of storage) or methanol (can be stored even in plastic bottles).

      • Hydrogen storage makes no sense. Special pipes, leaky. Methane fits in existing infrastructure.

    • Yes, hydrogen electrolyse is needed in the power grid. It will be used biogas systems. The biogas will be able to replace some of the use of natural gas. Biogas consist of ~65 % methane (natural gas, CH4) and ~35% CO2. With hydrogen added the CO2 can be converted to 50% more methane.

  • 48V in ICE?
    Ha.. before that get’s off the pad BEVs will have taken over.

    • A 48 V ICE motor is called a “mild hybrid”. It is rather late that is only coming now (and not 10-15 years ago). The only advantage is that it will make more components electric, which means those component will also be cheaper when used in BEVs.

  • Answer a couple of questions, please.

    1) Why would someone purchase a vehicle which cost several times as much per mile to drive as another option?

    2) In order to bring the price of H2 FCEVs down to that of ICEVs it is expected FCEVs would need to reach manufacturing levels of 500,000 cars per year. Who would buy the million plus high priced FCEVs that would need to be sold in order to built to 500,000 per year?

    • “And when it comes to renewable energy storage H2 is clearly superior. ”

      No, hydrogen is a very poor way to store energy. You don’t get out a lot based on how much you put in. Batteries are highly more efficient.

      Space for storage is not a large issue. The issue is cost.

      Hydrogen or synfuel created with renewable energy may play a small role for deep backup, for those times when wind and solar input is low for a few days in a row. Hydrogen is very unlikely to be used for frequent cycle storage.

  • I am a professional btw.
    You can believe me. I am right.
    We don’t need storage btw. We will have abundand high altitude wind energy.
    Even if not we got enough hydro storage already.

  • Let me count the ways I hate H2…
    1) Distracts people from real solutions.
    2) Is more expensive.
    3) Will always be more inefficient.
    4) The big fossil fuel companies love H2 because producing H2 takes more fossil fuels than ICE vehicles do with gas.
    5) I hate fracking.
    6) I love to hate?

    • Also produces more GHG than ICE.

  • Why? Same reason company is ditching hydrogen. They are getting rid of money losing propositions and doing what works. Batteries. You are a day late and a dollar short.
    Newsflash. Tesla just got 400,000 orders for a sexy, fast, modern EV. Toyota having trouble finding enough NG stations. Mirai ugly, slow, about twice as expensive. Good luck with that.

  • Good news. Small but important victory for humanity, common sense and the environment. Credit to Samsung for taking the lead.

  • We still need fuel cell that can produce electricity ( stream of active and crazy electrons) with BIG ZERO emission of greenhouse gases. Stationary fuel cells can be used to produce electricity as a power source for electric vehicles.

    • What do you see fueling those fuel cells? (Remember, “big zero” GHG emissions.)

      • These stationary fuel cells can be powered using hydrogen.

        • Do you know how inefficient hydrogen is as a storage medium?

          (Hydrogen produced by steam reforming natural gas is not low carbon.)

          • Just use hydrogen for electrolysis to produce more hydrogen.

          • By Jove, I think you’ve cracked the nut.

            Oh, wait…..

Comments are closed.