Although they are still in development, hydrogen vehicles represent an attractive option for reducing petroleum consumption and improving air quality. Hydrogen vehicles are powered by fuel cells that produce no air pollutants and few greenhouse gases. If fueled with pure hydrogen, fuel cells emit only heat and water as a byproduct.
Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are not yet commercially available. However, they are currently being demonstrated in light- and heavy-duty applications in fleets throughout the country. For example, Honda has placed several prototype light-duty FCX fuel cell vehicles city fleets, and California transit agencies are demonstrating fuel cell buses in revenue service.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is dedicated to hydrogen vehicle research and development. From using hydrogen in internal combustion engines to building a nationwide network of hydrogen refueling stations, studies in all aspects of hydrogen vehicles are being conducted by DOE’s FreedomCAR and Vehicle Technologies and Hydrogen, Fuel Cells, and Infrastructure Technologies (HFCIT) Programs.
In addition, the HFCIT Program developed the Controlled Hydrogen Fleet and Infrastructure Demonstration and Validation Project, which conducts tests on the performance of fuel cell vehicles and the supporting hydrogen infrastructure. Insights are fed back into DOE’s research and development program to guide and refocus future studies.