Archive for the ‘Hydrogen’ Category
“The challenges for fuel cell vehicles in the long run appear to be entirely on the infrastructure side… we have to begin to invest in that infrastructure now, as the advance placement of infrastructure is critical to the market acceptance of fuel cell vehicles.”
-John German, ICCT Sr. Fellow
Transitioning the U.S. light-duty vehicle fleet
A recent U.S. National Research Council report on light-duty (cars and small trucks) vehicle technologies discussed the feasibility of reaching two goals:
- 50% petroleum reduction in 2030
- 80% petroleum and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions in 2050
This reduction goal is measured against a 2005 baseline, and researchers concluded that with the right policy incentives, combination of vehicle technologies, and added infrastructure for those technologies, it is possible to achieve these targets.
The study considered multiple policy options in modeling the outcomes of potential technology mixes, and considered purchasing prices and energy efficiencies – two major factors that affect market acceptance. Newer technologies like compressed natural gas and battery (BEV), plug-in (PHEV), or fuel cell (FCEV) electric have higher initial costs. However, long-term assessments show that BEVs and FCEVs become less expensive than both internal combustion vehicles and other alternative fuel vehicles.
Reducing vehicle weight, aerodynamic drag, and tire rolling resistance, has a greater effect on lowering costs for BEVs and FCEVs than for conventional vehicles. In the long run, FCEVs are shown to be significantly better than conventional vehicles, with cheaper purchase prices, comparable range and refill times, higher efficiency, better drivability, and better space utilization of drive train components.
The major challenge to high-volume FCEV production, which is the assumption made in the above predictions, is infrastructure. John German, the ICCT Senior Fellow who headed the subcommittee that analyzed alternative vehicle technologies, explained that while predicting technology development may be highly uncertain, the investment into infrastructure must begin NOW.
Addressing this challenge, EIN currently leads a multi-stakeholder effort to develop a network-level plan for hydrogen infrastructure deployment in California. If successfully implemented, it will serve as a blueprint for market introduction at national and international levels. This plan will establish a clear pathway to market success for the infrastructure needed to support commercial levels of hydrogen FCEVs.
According to the NRC study only three potential scenarios could meet or exceed the goals of 50% petroleum reduction in 2030 and 80% GHG reduction in 2050; all three of those scenarios require significant market penetration of FCEVs. The first is based on optimistic assumptions for FCEV technology, and the other two both require PHEV and FCEV market success.
By modeling a policy-induced transition to hydrogen FCEVs by 2050, the study estimated a net present value of around $1 trillion. This scenario assumes both $6 billion annual subsidies through the mid-2020s and 500 geographically clustered hydrogen-refueling stations (subsidized or mandated) by 2016. In other words, the long-term benefits far outweigh the nearer-term costs associated with a transition to FCEVs.
FCEV adoption has both private and social benefits. Private benefits include consumer fuel savings, satisfaction with vehicle purchases, and satisfaction with fuel purchases. Social benefits include reductions in GHG emissions and petroleum use – in this scenario, petroleum consumption could be reduced by about 90-96% and GHG emissions by 59-80%.
Vehicle sales by vehicle technology for midrange technologies and policies promoting the adoption and use of PHEVs, FCEVs, and biofuels.
The study goes on to state that for hydrogen FCEVs, advance placement of fueling infrastructure is critical to market acceptance, as the availability of refueling stations directly affects consumer demand. It is clear that a coordinated effort is essential to achieving petroleum and GHG reductions goals – and it is even more clear that investments in and development of such infrastructure must occur early on in the transition.
Find out more about EIN’s work with hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and infrastructure here.
Car buyers everywhere have every reason to be excited. Whether they’re browsing for luxury, power, performance, or efficiency – they can expect to find themselves frequenting the gas pumps a little less often over the next coming years. The 2011 LA Auto Show officially opened to the public on November 18th and concluded exhibit viewings on the 27th. Despite the premiere of a staggering 1,000 new vehicles, the most notable aspect about this year’s show was the significant increase in vehicle fuel efficiency across the board in all categories. In light of Obama’s new fuel efficiency standard of 54.5 mpg by 2025, car manufacturers wasted no time in working towards this goal with design innovations appearing in both their debut models as well as models already in production. The show displayed a total of 15 vehicles with 40 plus mpg, 35 hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles, 9 clean diesel vehicles, 7 electric vehicles, 13 alternative fuel vehicles and 2 fuel cell vehicles.
In the spirit of competition, Best of Show recognitions were made and selected based on fuel efficiency, tailpipe emissions, and incorporation of innovative technologies that allowed vehicles to meet California’s Clean Car Standards. For the Working Truck category, the blue ribbon went to the Ford F-150 with EcoBoost, followed by the Toyota Tacoma as the runner up. For the Sporting Car category, the blue ribbon went to the Honda CR-Z Hybrid Coupe followed by the Mazda3 SKYACTIV as the runner up. For the Non-Sporting (midsize) Car category, the blue ribbon was awarded to the 2013 Chevy Malibu Eco with the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in placed as runner up. For the Herding Car (SUV/Minivan) category, the blue ribbon was awarded to the 2013 Ford C-MAX Energi Plug-in Hybrid with the Toyota Prius V placed as runner up. And lastly, for the Compact (or subcompact) Car category the blue ribbon went to the Hyundai Elantra followed by the BMW i3 as the runner up. Vehicles and technologies recognized for Best of Show are either currently on the market or expected to be on the market within the next 2 years.
So to all those prospective buyers looking to purchase the greenest car of 2012 – look no further. The Honda Civic Natural Gas won the 2012 Green Car of the Year Award and boasts the cleanest-running internal combustion engine certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The model gets 48 mpg on the highway and releases tailpipe emissions at levels that render it untouchable by any competing engines of its kind. Automotive manufacturing companies are making extensive improvements in vehicle fuel economy and couldn’t be doing it at a better time. With gasoline prices expected to reach record highs in 2012, the demand for more efficient and cleaner-burning cars by drivers all over the world could not be more present.
By Christine Jaramillo
In our society's quest for energy independence, its important to remember that no one solution is going solve our oil addiction problem. We consume A LOT of oil. People naturally have different driving habits and transportation needs. To truly reach a sustainable transportation system, we need to have zero emissions vehicles that can meet the driving demand of all drivers. This means zero tailpipe emissions today,and moving towards zero energy production emissions in the future. Check out this EIN video to learn more:
For a list of references for facts stated in the video, please click here.
At the end of June, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) hosted a Hydrogen and Fuel Showcase to educate board members on the incredible progress hydrogen and fuel cell technology has made under the Zero Emissions Vehicle program. Check out Remy Garderet (EIN’s Policy Director) at the event in this video clip:
His points are well put; CARB’s Zero Emission Vehicle Program helped drive substantial investment into fuel-cell-electric-vehicles (FCEVs), as well as battery-electric-vehicles (BEVs). As a result, consumer ready, zero-emissions products are ready to be launched. Without strong government policy, much of this progress simply would not have been made.
We need continued strong policy signals to ensure the successful deployment of these technologies and the infrastructure needed to support them. EIN is working hard to ensure that by 2025, 1 in 5 vehicles on car lots will be able to run on hydrogen or electricity. Because of these recently showcased technology advancements, this vision is attainable. We can now realistically hope that your next vehicle will be powered by hydrogen, electricity, or both.
With this year’s upcoming releases of the Chevrolet Volt, Nissan Leaf, and Coda, the success of the already available Tesla Roadster, and a handful of electric vehicles scheduled for release in 2011 and 2012, we have great reason to be excited about battery electric vehicle technology. These vehicles are commercial products, expected to make money in the near future, not just comply with regulations. They help us begin the transition away from petroleum.
Amid the excitement for battery electric (BEV) and extended range electric vehicles (i.e., the Volt), it is easy to lose sight of the other critical electric vehicle technology: hydrogen fuel cells. Honda, Daimler (Mercedes), Toyota, GM, Hyundai, Nissan, VW, and Chrysler all maintain fuel cell programs focused on a range of vehicle types, small and large. While test fleets are already on the streets, these vehicles are expected to be available commercially in Southern California 2015. Why are fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) so critical? Because our transportation emissions problem is BIG.
We have millions of gasoline and diesel powered cars to replace before we can end our dependence on oil. But before we get there, each car or truck we replace with a zero emissions vehicle (ZEV) counts. How much? According to data from two California Air Resources Board databases (CEPAM and GHG Emissions tools), over the course of a year, a light to medium duty truck (i.e., SUVs, pickups, etc.) emits close to one and half times more greenhouse gases than a passenger vehicle.
Put simply, it takes more energy, and thus more gallons of gasoline or diesel, to move trucks and SUVs than it does to move passenger vehicles. As a result, these heavier vehicles emit more greenhouse gases (GHGs) and criteria pollutants (SMOG precursors and particulate matter). On a per-vehicle basis, replacing an SUV or truck with a ZEV reduces more emissions than replacing a passenger vehicle.
This brings us back to the importance of fuel cells. Based on what we know today, engineers expect fuel cells to have the best chance to replace long range and heavier trucks and SUVs (and consequently truck and SUV emissions) in the near future. At production volumes, adding more power output to a fuel cell system will not add insurmountable cost or weight to a vehicle. Adding more power output to a battery system will add both.
Just recently, as reported by Automotive News, Takeshi Uchiyamada, Toyota’s executive vice president in charge of research and development, told students at the University of Michigan that he saw BEV as a niche product, focused on short distance city driving. He sees FCEVs as the most likely zero emission technology to replace the general purpose vehicle. Why? Because they are expected to be able to replace the complete utility of petroleum powered vehicles, large and small.
Let’s make no mistake, BEVs are critical to our ability to end our addiction to fossil fuels. But in our excitement for BEVs we cannot forget the importance of fuel cell development. We need all hands on deck, and all technologies moving forward if we hope to beat petroleum.
FuelCell Energy has just been awarded a $2.1 million sub-contract from Air Products to provide a fuel cell for a hydrogen fueling station in Fountain Valley, CA. Air Products was awarded the prime contract for the project from the California Air Resources Board in order to demonstrate a renewable hydrogen fueling station. The first large-scale project of its kind will produce roughly 140kg of hydrogen per day from renewable biogas sourced from a wastewater treatment facility using an Air products’ concept that incorporates FuelCell Energy’s DFC-H2 Technology in a hydrogen fueling station. The hydrogen produced from the facility will be available for public use and can also be used in early market fuel cell applications such as backup power and forklifts. Potentially, the facility can produce enough fuel for a fuel cell vehicle fleet of approximately 100 vehicles. The fuel cell will also generate 300 kW of electricity per day, which will be used by the Orange County Sanitation District in its daily operations.
This new facility will demonstrate an important component of the development of the hydrogen infrastructure in California. While hydrogen production from other sources (i.e. steam methane reforming of natural gas) shows a significant savings in GHG emissions on a well-to-wheel basis, hydrogen production sourced from a renewable feedstock is significantly better, and one of the only pathways currently available to curb almost all GHG emissions. This project will demonstrate that such renewable hydrogen can be made in centralized facilities together with electricity generation, an especially attractive option while there are still few fuel cell vehicles around.
If we are to achieve California’s aggressive climate change goals, then renewable hydrogen combined with fuel cell vehicles must be included as part of the solution. The hydrogen fuel produced from this facility will also count towards meeting the goals of SB 1505 legislation, which requires that, in the aggregate, 33% of hydrogen fuel will need to be produced from renewable sources. The legislation will play a vital role in ensuring that renewable hydrogen pathways are included in the roll out of California’s emerging hydrogen infrastructure.
For the official press release from FuelCell Energy please go to:
On December 14th, the National Academies of Science released the pre-publication copy of Transitions to Alternative Technologies – Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles. The report looks at the expected costs of deploying plug-in electric vehicles (i.e., the Chevy Volt, Toyota Prius Plug-In, etc.). The general conclusion: plug-in hybrid costs are likely to remain high, and the benefits are expected to be modest, for decades. What does this tell us? It tells us that there is no easy solution to reducing our petroleum dependence. Plug-ins are important, but they will not get us there alone.
According to the report press release, “a portfolio approach toward reducing U.S. dependence on oil is necessary for long-term success. This should include increasing the fuel efficiency of conventional vehicles and pursuing research, development, and demonstration into alternative strategies, including the use of biofuels, electric vehicles, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.” Plug-in hybrids are an important bridging technology that will help facilitate the transition to broad adoption of 100% pure electric vehicles. But we cannot expect them to save the day alone. We need to pursue every potential non-petroleum solution we have.