Toyota, Mercedes-Benz and Nissan are members of the Energy Department’s newly launched public-private partnership focused on advancing hydrogen infrastructure to support transportation energy options including fuel cell electric vehicles.
The new partnership, H2USA, brings together automakers, government agencies, gas suppliers, and the hydrogen and fuel cell industries to coordinate research and identify cost-effective ways to deploy infrastructure that can deliver affordable hydrogen fuel in the US.
Current H2USA members include the American Gas Association, Association of Global Automakers, the California Fuel Cell Partnership, the Electric Drive Transportation Association, the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association, Hyundai Motor America, ITM Power, Massachusetts Hydrogen Coalition, Mercedes-Benz USA, Nissan North America Research and Development, Proton OnSite and Toyota Motor North America.
The DOE says recent development of US shale gas resources has helped directly cut electricity and transportation costs and is also helping to reduce the costs of producing hydrogen and operating hydrogen fuel cells.
Through H2USA, industry and government partners will identify actions to encourage early adopters of fuel cell electric vehicles, conduct technical and market analysis, and evaluate alternative fueling infrastructure that can cut costs and increase economies of scale, the DOE says. For example, infrastructure being developed for alternative fuels such as natural gas, as well as fuel cell applications including tri-generation that produce heat, power and hydrogen from natural gas or biogas, may also provide low-cost hydrogen for vehicles.
In addition, increased fuel cell deployment for combined heat and power, back-up power systems and fuel cell forklifts can help pave the way for mainstream hydrogen vehicle infrastructure, according to the Energy Department.
Joint research and development efforts from private industry and national laboratories have helped reduce automotive fuel cell costs by more than 35 percent since 2008 and by more than 80 percent since 2002, the DOE says. At the same time, fuel cell durability has doubled and the amount of expensive platinum needed in fuel cells has fallen by 80 percent since 2005.
A seven-year DOE demonstration project to evaluate hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles, which GM, Daimler, Hyundai-Kia, Ford, Shell, BP, Chevron, Air Products and Chemicals participated in, found rapid progress in driving ranges and durability of fuel cell stacks, according to a DOE report published last summer.
In March, Toyota joined the London Hydrogen Partnership, making it the network’s first major automaker member. The partnership aims to promote hydrogen and fuel cell technology in the city. Over the last few years the LHP has initiated more than £50 million ($75.8 million) worth of hydrogen projects, rolling out hydrogen buses, taxis, scooters, refueling stations, materials handling vehicles and fuel cell combined heat and power units.