A recently completed study on hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) – conducted by the The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) – demonstrates that the technology is showing rapid progress in durability and driving range, supporting future development and investment.

Funded by the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), the National Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle Learning Demonstration Final Report (PDF) backs up part of the vehicular energy strategy of the DOE, which is to further expand the use of hydrogen and fuel cells for transportation purposes. The DOE is looking to bring down the cost of FCEV technology so that it can be adopted on a wider scale, working towards meeting three priority technological targets for FCEVs:

  • 250-mile driving range
  • 2,000-hour fuel cell durability
  • $3/gallon gasoline equivalent (gge) hydrogen production cost

The report is the result of the National Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle Learning Demonstration, which combined data gathered from more than 500,000 FCEV trips covering some 3.6 million miles. 152,000 kg of hydrogen was produced or dispensed during the the study. And while the targets for fuel costs were not able to be met during the study, test results showed that at least one of the four vehicle teams taking part – General Motors, Ford, Daimler, and Hyundai-Kia – was able to exceed driving range and fuel cell durability goals.

“As vehicle manufacturers and other researchers worldwide continue to focus on the remaining challenges of balancing durability, cost, and high-volume manufacturability, there is optimism that manufacturers will introduce FCEVs to the market within the next few years,” said Keith Wipke, the study’s lead author.

With Toyota planning on selling a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle by 2015, the race is on to develop the necessary technology to push consumers into considering a FCEV over a petroleum-powered car for their next purchase. This should get interesting.

[via Phys.org]

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