Fuel Cell History Timeline

  • 1838 – German-Swiss chemist Christian Friedrich Schonbein publishes underlying principle of fuel cells in “Philosophical Magazine.”
  • 1839 – Welsh scientist Sir William Robert Grove builds first fuel cell
  • 1841 – Grove induced into Fellowship of the Royal Society and publishes work on the conservation of energy
  • 1842 – Grove develops first hydrogen/oxygen fuel cell
  • 1889 – Chemists Charles Langer and Ludwig Mond create first practical fuel cell that runs on cola gas
  • 1932 – Francis Thomas Bacon develops first successful alkaline fuel cell
  • 1954 – W. Thomas Grub modifies Bacon’s design to create the first polymer exchange membrane fuel cell
  • 1955 – Leonard Niedrach devises way to coat the polymer membrane with platinum, increasing the efficiency of the Grub fuel cell
  • 1959 – Back creates a 5 kW and 15 kW stationary fuel cell for commercial application
  • 19601980s – NASA breathes new life into fuel cells by using them for space missions
  • 1991 – Roger Billings produces the first hydrogen fuel cell powered car
  • 2009 – UTC announces the 400 kW phosphoric acid fuel cell for commercial and industrial applications.