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DOE Study: Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles Advancing Rapidly

A seven-year US Department of Energy demonstration project to evaluate hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles, which GM, Daimler, Hyundai-Kia, Ford, Shell, BP, Chevron, Air Products and Chemicals Inc. participated in, found rapid progress in driving ranges and durability of fuel cell stacks.

The DOE in 2003 established interim, high-level technical targets for FCEVs to be reached by 2009, which included a 250-mile driving range, 2,000-hour fuel cell durability and $3 per gallon gasoline equivalent for hydrogen production cost.

The National Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle Learning Demonstration Final Report found that at least one of the four teams, which each comprised an automaker and energy provider, exceeded each of the DOE’s targets for driving range and fuel cell durability. One industry team achieved a 254-mile driving range and another showed projected average fuel cell stack durability of 2,521 hours.

The DOE names the four teams, which were Daimler and BP; GM and Shell; Chevron, UTC Power and Hyundai-Kia; and Ford and BP. However, the report does not reveal which teams hit particular targets.

Hydrogen production costs were more difficult to demonstrate through the project because current hydrogen stations were not designed, constructed and used as full-scale commercial stations, the DOE said.

The demonstration project generated data from more than 500,000 individual vehicle trips covering 3.6 million miles and 152,000 kg of hydrogen produced or dispensed. Over the seven-year demonstration period, 183 fuel cell electric vehicles were deployed, 25 project fueling stations were placed in use and no fundamental safety issues were identified, the DOE said.

Separately, the DOE’s Fuel Cell Technologies Program has issued a request for information on high-accuracy meters for hydrogen fuel equipment. The RFI is seeking feedback from both users and manufacturers of hydrogen meters on the current and near-term status and availability of high-accuracy meters that can perform under hydrogen fueling conditions and meet measurement accuracy requirements.

A fuel cells report released this month by Pike Research, a unit of Navigant Consulting, says the overall industry has expanded at a rapid pace and forecast that all applications in the stationary, portable and transport sectors will reach $15.7 billion by 2017.

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