Eisler Publishes New Book About the History and Politics of Fuel Cell Development

CNS News

"Overpotential: Fuel Cells, Futurism, and the Making of a Power Panacea" by Matthew Eisler, IRG1 researcher and former CNS postdoctoral scholar, explores the gap between theory and practice of fuel cell power and the broader issues of history in science and technology after World War II.

From the publisher:

It sounds so simple - just combine oxygen and hydrogen in an electrochemical reaction that produces water and electricity, and you will have created a clean and efficient power source. If only it was that easy, scientists would not have spent decades and billions of dollars in government and industry funding developing the fuel cell. Although there have been successes and discoveries along the way, engineering a fuel cell that is both durable and affordable has proved to be extraordinarily difficult.

Overpotential: Fuel Cells, Futurism, and the Making of a Power Panacea identifies the twists and turns in the ongoing quest to create the perfect fuel cell. This book opens a window into larger, more in-depth issues in the history of science, technology, and society after World War II, including the sociology of laboratory life, the relationship between academe, industry, and government in developing advanced technologies, the role of technology in environmental and pollution politics, and the rise of utopian discourse in science and engineering.


“Eisler’s historical treatment of the engineering subject matter in Overpotential provides a perspective that is often lacking in the current discourse on fuel cells.”

Frederik Nebeker, author of Dawn of the Electronic Age

“Joining scholarly analysis with engaging narrative, Eisler exposes the perils of technology policy and reveals how a cult of innovation can trump socially sound energy policy in the United States.”

—John M. DeCicco, University of Michigan


Author Information:

Matthew N. Eisler is a historian of science and technology. His research focuses on the political economy, culture and discourse of science-based innovation, particularly in the energy and transportation sectors.


Published January 2012 by Rutgers University Press

Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8135-5177-7 $49.95