The study will be used to figure out what kind of components may be developed to facilitate the build-out of more hydrogen stations over the next five years, including better compressors and hydrogen tanks. The DOE lists 56 hydrogen fueling stations throughout the U.S., including 23 in California alone. By comparison, there are about 7,200 electric-vehicle charging outlets available at non-private stations and almost 1,000 compressed natural gas (CNG) stations.
Both the federal government and some automakers regard hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) as a great way to address both greenhouse gas emissions and U.S. dependency on foreign oil, since FCEVs can provide a driving range similar to a gas-powered vehicle but without the harmful emissions. Toyota, General Motors and Mercedes-Benz are among automakers that have said they'd be selling FCEVs to the public by 2015.
Still, FCEVs are an expensive proposition because of their low volume and the hydrogen-distribution challenges. Late last year, green-technology firm Pike Research cut its FCEV sales forecast for 2020 to about 1 million units in cumulative sales from about 2.8 million units.
Earlier this month, the DOE approved both $14.2 million in funding for vehicle lightweighting efforts and as much as $10 million to facilitate the development of battery-electric utility vehicles like trucks and forklifts.
March 21, 2012
DOE announced on March 13 that up to $2 million will be available this year to collect and analyze performance data for hydrogen fueling stations and advanced refueling components. DOE will track the performance and technical progress of innovative refueling systems to find ways to lower costs and improve operations. The funding is part of the department's commitment to help industry bring hydrogen technologies into the mainstream market and provide new choices for vehicles that do not rely on gasoline.
Many automakers have announced production plans for fuel cell electric vehicles for retail sale or lease as early as 2015, and some states are investing in hydrogen fuel infrastructure to accommodate these vehicles. The new funding will support projects to monitor the performance of multiple hydrogen fueling stations and advanced components for up to five years. The data and resulting analyses from this initiative will also help hydrogen fueling equipment manufacturers improve the designs of existing systems.
DOE seeks applicants to this funding opportunity to test new refueling component technologies that could substantially reduce the cost of hydrogen. These include advanced compressor designs that could reduce the number or size of compressors required at commercial refueling sites; hydrogen delivery tanks with higher capacity and optimal tank pressure, which could reduce the need for compressors and the frequency of deliveries at refueling sites; and advanced electrolyzers that can produce hydrogen at higher pressures, potentially lowering the cost of hydrogen by reducing the amount of post-production compression required. Responses are due May 11. See the DOE Progress Alert and the Funding Opportunity Announcement on the Funding Opportunity Exchange website.