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Do you know the atomic weight of hydrogen? It’s 1.008, which makes today, October 8, a great day to celebrate National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day! But at the Department of Energy, we’re not just celebrating the confluence of the calendar and the periodic table. We’re starting to see a hydrogen future to our roads today.
Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), which run on hydrogen rather than gasoline, have the potential to significantly reduce our nation’s oil use. They also have the ability to lower harmful emissions that contribute to climate change. And, they can be more than twice as efficient as today’s gasoline vehicles. That’s why FCEVs are one piece of President Obama's all-of-the-above energy portfolio and complement other sustainable transportation options. But these benefits won’t turn into reality until FCEVs become a core part of the market. That’s why it’s worth taking note of recent progress:
- Over the past few months, Hyundai and Toyota both introduced their FCEVs, on track with the plans for early commercialization by 2015. Several other companies also plan to release FCEVs very soon including Honda, GM, Daimler, and BMW.
- In Southern California, hydrogen is a fueling option at almost a dozen local gas stations and that number is growing quickly.
- And, the Energy Department has helped fund the deployment of more than 1,600 fuel cells in forklifts and as emergency power for cell phone towers. The success of these installations has led to an additional 13,000 fuel cells on order or in use without any Energy Department funding.
Of course, there’s more to be done before we declare success, which is why the Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) has long been researching and developing the technologies needed to make FCEVs a viable transportation option for the American public.
We’ve been working hard, and it shows. Energy Department-funded research has cut the projected, high-volume cost of automotive fuel cells in half since 2006. We’ve also helped reduce the projected cost of producing hydrogen from natural gas at high volume to the point where it would be roughly equivalent to the price per mile of gasoline.
EERE’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office has also been conducting the world's largest independent FCEV validation project of its kind with automakers. More than 215 FCEVs travelled 6 million miles in more than 500,000 trips, and 31 FCEV fueling stations completed more than 52,000 refuelings. Data from this project are available to the public in the form on Composite Data Products and provides valuable information to auto manufacturers across the country.
Finally, in 2013, the Energy Department and other stakeholders launched H2USA, a public-private partnership focused on the widespread commercialization of FCEVs. Members include federal agencies, the fuel cell trade association, automakers, hydrogen providers, fuel cell developers, national laboratories, and additional stakeholders.
These are just a few of the many accomplishments that are propelling the industry forward. With continued investment, fuel cells can be truly stacked for success!