Evolution of Fuel Cells and Batteries for the Military: Trends and Markets

Published - Mar 2004| Analyst - Anna Welch Crull| Code - FCB033A
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Report Highlights

  • Zinc-air cells are projected to increase to $11 million at the largest single AAGR (21.8%) of any fuel cell technology.
  • The value of hydrogen and metal-air fuel cells is about $18 million and is projected to increase over the next five years at an AAGR of 5.1%.
  • The total U.S. market for fuel cells and advanced batteries in the military is expected to drop at an average annual growth rate (AAGR) of 7.7% from $313.4 million in 2003 to $210 million in 2008.
  • The use of advanced batteries will decline at an AAGR of -9.6 to $176 million, while fuel cells rise to complement them. 2003 figures, however, were larger than anticipated due to current military operations.


Modern technology has been embraced by the Department of Defense (DoD) as a resource to enhance the offensive and defensive capabilities of the military services. This is an important factor as our relatively small military forces are deployed both in combat and in hostile environments, and for peacekeeping and continued training scenarios far beyond anything envisioned when the military was reduced in size by 40% in the 1990s.

Fuel cells are expected to be deployed for some military power needs by 2006. Advanced batteries and generators for mobile electric power will continue to have a role. These electrochemical devices have the potential to offer agility, stability, and efficient power to replace traditional hydrocarbon combustion-driven platforms and battery-powered systems. The market for military fuel cells is poised to take off in 5 to 10 years, but the opportunities are balanced by a number of barriers that must be overcome before they can sustain the anticipated multibillion-dollar markets anticipated by mid-21st century forces.

The focus of this BCC technical market report is on the ground forces and how fuel cells will be used within a fiveyear horizon and into the future. It also identifies the early market opportunities for fuel cells in military applications. The document looks at the technological evolution and advances for military applications requiring primary, supplementary and backup power. It addresses applications for stationary, mobile and portable power requirements, and includes existing and projected uses and markets for fuel cells and advanced batteries within the military.


The report contains:


  • An examination of the trends that are likely and appropriate for the use of fuel cells for
        - large stationary power
        - mobile power
        - small-scale power needs
  • Discussion of existing and projected uses and markets for fuel cells as well as advanced batteries
  • Analysis of the hurdles to be overcome in moving fuel cells into the military
  • Market forecasts for these technologies through 2008.



An in-depth analysis of military sources, Department of Defense (DoD), and related technical and literature and published dissertations, combined with a review of the history of the technologies involved, interviews with industry experts, federal government researchers, and contractors provided an assessment of the outlook, the progress and the deployment of fuel cells in the United States military. Other information sources include product literature from suppliers, scientific references, conferences, and patent searches.

The report makes projections for market sectors in terms of constant dollars representing real growth. Historical values are presented for the given year. The market analyzed is for the United States.


Colonel Dick Hooker (USA, Ret.) trained as a journalist prior to entering the army as an infantry officer. Col. Hooker spent half of his military career abroad, with three tours in Vietnam, where he commanded an infantry battalion, then as an intelligence officer and foreign area specialist with U.S. Embassies and Military Missions in Asia and the Middle East. He has authored studies on water and wastewater global markets, advanced military battery technology, and fuel cell markets in stationary and transportation applications. A private consultant, he has worked with BCC for 5 years, specializing in military applications for advanced technologies.

Anna Welch Crull, a chemical engineer, is experienced in fuel cell technologies, membrane materials, and advanced separations. Ms. Crull has worked with BCC for 30 years and authored 83 technical/marketing reports, helped establish 10 technical newsletters, and assisted in numerous special consulting studies for more than 30 corporations and U.S. and foreign governments. Her specialty is market evaluations and commercialization of new technology.

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