Fuel cell electric vehicles and hydrogen infrastructure: status 2012

Energy & Environmental Science (Impact Factor: 15.49). 07/2012; 5(10):8790-8798. DOI: 10.1039/C2EE22596D

ABSTRACT Within the framework of this publication, a brief motivation for hydrogen as an automotive energy carrier is provided and recent technology status and activities in the field of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) and hydrogen infrastructure are described. To do so, current hydrogen vehicles by General Motors and Opel (such as the HydroGen4) as well as current and upcoming technologies are presented. In addition, well-to-wheel efficiencies considering different energy mixes and driving profiles for various electric powertrains (including E-REV vehicles like the Chevrolet Volt and its VOLTEC system) are briefly discussed.

This paper is a follow-up study to a previous article on the same topic published in 2007: “Fuel Cell Vehicles: Technology Status 2007” by R.v.H. und U.E. [1]. Although providing also an overall picture, that publication was focused on issues of hydrogen storage and vehicle demonstration programs. The current publication, on the other hand, will illustrate the progress made in the meantime, and will primarily deal with the fuel cell system and the planned hydrogen infrastructure roll-out for the early FCEV commercialization in the 2015-2020 timeframe. For that reason, some insight into the hydrogen infrastructure and recent results of infrastructure and technology readiness studies will be presented, including those of the “H2Mobility” coalition, which comprises major automotive, energy, and technology companies.


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Available from: Ulrich Eberle, Jun 26, 2015

Questions & Answers about this publication

  • Ulrich Eberle added an answer in Fuel Cells:
    Is it important to add ESS with renewable energy sources connected to the grid?

    is it important to add ESS with renewable energy sources connected to the Gird

    such as supercapacitors , batteries or fuel cells

    Ulrich Eberle · General Motors Company

    You may find a 2012 paper on the rationale for large-scale energy storage within the context oft the German renewable energy industry interesting.

  • Ulrich Eberle added an answer in Eco-Innovation:
    How does regulation affect innovation and sustainability in infrastructure sectors?

    Are regulations affecting eco-innovations and sustainability

    How different methodologies applied in price and quality regulation processes are affecting sustainability.

    Ulrich Eberle · General Motors Company

    Dear Leiner Vargas,  regulation is definitely affecting Innovation in infrastructure sectors. See for example the German renewable energy regulation which provided a jump start to wind and solar-based energy generation technologies, as well as for large-scale energy storage oft intermittent renewable energy. Another example would be the setup of a fuel infrastructure for alternative propulsion vehicles (e.g. battery EV vor hydrogen fuel cell vehicles). Best Regards Ulrich

  • Ulrich Eberle added an answer in Wind Power and Power Systems:
    What is the energy that will be most used as renewable in the future and are there any statistics on this?
    I want to know the type of the energy used in the future.
    Ulrich Eberle · General Motors Company
    For a brief German case study on fluctuating renewable energy, see the attached publication; and in particular the infrastructure section.
  • Ulrich Eberle added an answer in Alternative Fuels:
    Do you see fuel-cell technology to power cars by the originally anticipated time frame of 2020?
    One of the most funded projects by the US, more than one billion dollars has been dedicated for fuel-cells development. Looking at the "non-economic" challenges of using fuel-cells in cars, we have:

    1) Required to operate under extreme range of temperatures (sub zero to 100 C) and at low humidity ambient.

    2) Storing/ Carrying the hydrogen tanks on the vehicle while engineers are striving to reduce the latter's weight using aluminum and alloy steels and drive-train compactness.

    3) Infrastructure which I often observe that it goes something like "You sow the seed, I ll water it and grow to a shoot/plant." Hence, infrastructure is last in my list here keeping in mind the Geo-political and economics factors among others.

    I might be missing some other important points which is one of the reasons why I would like to hear from others!
    Ulrich Eberle · General Motors Company
    Ravi, you might be interested in a recent paper co-authored by myself that addresses most of the points mentioned in your post. It would be great if you consider the piece helpful. Best Regards Ulrich
  • Ulrich Eberle added an answer in Fuel Cells:
    What is the fuel cell working temperature?
    If it is working at room temperature, in the case of hydrogen and oxygen fuel cell, the reaction is purely chemical and not thermal. Normally hydrogen and oxygen reaction is exothermic. Here, it is not clear.
    Ulrich Eberle · General Motors Company
    60 - 80 °C when considering an automotive fuel cell. For a full review on the matter see the attached link below.

    Best Regards

  • Ulrich Eberle added an answer in Wind:
    Pumped hydro storage and a better use of wind energy?
    Wind power suffers with inconsistency of wind regimes. The association with a powerful storage system could raise the capacity factor of wind turbines. This theme is not new and there are already several articles dealing with this topic. But there is still resistance among technicians in the adoption of this type of association.

    Do you have examples of operating systems based on this design?

    The incentive programs to wind energy should also not encourage this type of association?

    What obstacles must be overcome?
    Ulrich Eberle · General Motors Company
    Dear colleagues,

    when discussing pumped hydro as energy storage means, one might immediately address capacity restrictions. At least in mainland Europe, and in particular in Germany, wind and solar energy are already so popular that the enermous energy fluctuations and grid challenges caused by them cannot be neglected any more.

    Pumped hydro does not provide the required amounts of energy storage dimension any more, so that novel approaches such as power-to-gas and fundamental modifications to the grid need definetely to be investigated and implemented.

    Perhaps, for this discussion, the link to the paper below in "Energy and Environmental Science", co-authored by myself, could be helpful.

    In case you consider the publication interesting, that would be great.

    Best Regards

  • Ulrich Eberle added an answer in Sustainability Research:
    Integration of Variable Renewable Energy Sources - how to overcome the obstacles imposed on the supply side and demand security?
    What mixture of "fluctuating" renewable-energy sources based on heat and electric power generation (including the necessary kind of transmission lines and appropriate storage technologies) can cover the growing demand side and secure reliability, demand response and grid security at the condition of either grid parity or at the lowest costs with different shares of renewable energies (depending on availability) and different levels of integration into existing distributional systems?
    Ulrich Eberle · General Motors Company
    Dear colleagues,
    perhaps the link below to a recent paper on automotive fuel cell technology and hydrogen infrastructure might address some issues already raised in this discussion thread (e.g. hydrogen as chemical storage medium for renewables, power-to-gas). It would be great if you consider the piece interesting.

    Best Regards

  • Ulrich Eberle added an answer in Fuel Cells:
    Why does the voltage of fuel cells decrease when we increase the load (i.e. current)?
    As an open circuit voltage of individual cell is about 1 volt (theoretically 1.23 V). When we apply the load then there is a sudden drop in voltage decreasing gradually by increasing the load (current). What happen within the cell? Is it due to decrease the reaction site available to the reactant gases? Or ability of proton conducting membrane? Or due to there catalyst activity?
    Ulrich Eberle · General Motors Company
    If interested in the basics and recent state-of-the-art of automotive fuel cells, you might follow the link below to a review co-authored by myself, addressing the respective technology challenges and what could be done to improve durability over the last years.

  • Ulrich Eberle added an answer in Hydrogen Energy:
    Any thoughts on market prospect of fuel cell PHEVs?
    In the projection, fuel cell PHEVs are found to be competitive for both the near term and long term, but for different reasons. I welcome any discussions and criticism of this finding, as elaborated by the paragraph right before Section 3.4 in the paper.

    "The remarkable synergy between FC and plug-in battery is mainly due to the shared powertrain option—FC PHEVs, which appear to be competitive across all scenarios, both in the short term and the long term, but for common and different reasons. Low energy cost is the common reason. FC PHEVs have lower energy costs than SI PHEVs by relying on a cheaper (partly due to subsidy) and more efficient fuel (hydrogen). Compared to FCVs, FC PHEVs also achieve lower energy costs by fueling some miles with slightly cheaper electricity. The other reason for FC PHEVs to be attractive in the short-term market is its less severe range barrier. FC PHEVs consume less hydrogen fuel and thus require less frequent refueling trips, which is an important advantage in the early market with low hydrogen availability. Over time, this advantage diminishes as the hydrogen infrastructure expands, but the long-term advantage emerges—a competitive vehicle price of FC PHEVs due to progress of both FC and plug-in battery. As illustrated by Figure 5, the price of FC PHEV10s in 2045 is even a little lower than that of a SI PHEV10s, if all technical targets are met on time. The competition among SI PHEVs, FCVs and FC PHEVs reflects tradeoff among vehicle price, energy cost, and refueling inconvenience. This topic is worthy of further investigation because the knowledge about how consumers value energy costs and fuel availability is still insufficient"
    Ulrich Eberle · General Motors Company
    Dear Zhenhong Lin,

    Not directly related to your specific questions on Fuel Cell PHEVs ... but I think nevertheless interesting in the framework of the discussion: Please find below a recent review co-authored by myself on the state of the art of fuel cell electric vehicles and hydrogen infrastructure. A well-to-wheel discussion of the fuel path is included, as well as a brief comparison with extended-range and pure battery electric vehicles.

    It would be great if you consider the piece helpful.

    Best Regards

  • Ulrich Eberle added an answer in Fuel Cells:
    What are the improvements on the performance of fuel cell technology?
    Fuel cells promise improvements in transportation, distributed power generation, and electronic devices.
    Ulrich Eberle · General Motors Company
    Dear colleagues, you might be interested in a recent paper, co-authored by myself, on the current automotive fuel cell technology and hydrogen infrastructure status. You will find the link attached below. Best Regards Ulrich
  • Ulrich Eberle added an answer in Renewable Energy:
    Grid-connected renewables normally require energy storage. Does anyone have case-study information where batteries are used for storage?
    Having no storage leads to unpredictable power levels on the grid. Sizing the battery can be complex as it is a function of the grid peaks and valleys, wind prevalence and sunlight availability. Are there any models on this or real-life cases studies?
    Ulrich Eberle · General Motors Company
    Gerhard, when considering large-scale energy storage of intermittent renewable energy over extended periods of time (in particular to balance seasonal production variations), as an addition to batteries, storage in the form of chemical energy carriers as a complementary solution should not be forgotten. Archetypes of such energy carriers are e.g. hydrogen produced by electrolysis or synthetic natural gas made from CO2 and H2. But there are of course a number of further options available since also liquid fuels could be produced when "green" H2 is available. You therefore might be interested in the attached paper.
  • Ulrich Eberle added an answer in Electrochemistry:
    What do you think is the next big thing in the field of "electrochemical devices for green energy"? What do you foresee as the next commercial device?
    As a graduate student and beginner-researcher, I am interested in working and contributing in this field. I am also interested in what the profit making companies think of the "next big thing" vs. the governmental funding agencies, and differences.
    Ulrich Eberle · General Motors Company
    Gadre, in Europe and especially in Germany, the large-scale storage of intermittent renewable energy (e.g. wind, solar) is of huge interest. Considering automotive and such energy-storage applications, the attached link might be of interest to you.
  • Ulrich Eberle added an answer in Wind Energy:
    Renewable Energy and Hydrogen Cost Benefit Analysis Frameworks??
    Can anyone advise me or recommend to me a Cost Benefit Analysis Framework for Renewable Energy, specifically Wind Power, and/or Hydrogen production, if any exist?

    I am trying to find a gap in energy policy, or supported evidence within it, for my feasibility study.

    Thank you.
    Ulrich Eberle · General Motors Company
    Dear Sophie,
    Please try this paper link below and look additionally in the article for the full reference to the H2Mobility study. It will be difficult to find better information on the topic you mentioned.
    Would be great if the link would be helpful to you.
    Best Regards