Fuel Cell Vehicles Get Surprising Boost from Uncle Sam

The petroleum industry-friendly Trump Administration has awarded $15.8 million to 30 projects that are intended to substantially reduce oil consumption from passenger vehicles.

2 minute read

July 10, 2017, 11:00 AM PDT

By Irvin Dawid

Toyota Fuel Cell

The H2O concept car, by Toyota, on display at the Thailand Motorshow. | Ekachai Sathittaweechai / Shutterstock

"​The Department of Energy recently awarded about $15.8 million for 30 new research projects that it said are 'aimed at discovery and development of novel, low-cost materials necessary for hydrogen production and storage and for fuel cells onboard light-duty vehicles'," reports AASHTO Journal on July 7.

The DOE's Fuel Cell Technologies Office [a division under the  Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy] selected projects for the awards, in line with department goals of "enabling economic and efficient transportation via fuel cell electric vehicles that use hydrogen fuel produced from diverse domestic resources."

The DOE announcement, made June 8, indicates that fuel cell electric vehicles "consume 95% less petroleum per mile than conventional internal combustion engine vehicles, have no tailpipe emissions, and offer quiet operation."

What's surprising is that the administration would even consider reducing oil consumption to be a benefit considering their interest in rolling back fuel economy standards. The Trump Administration's main energy goal is clearly boosting oil production, illustrated by a July 6 order [pdf] by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to "to speed oil and gas permitting on public lands with 30-day reviews," report Dino Grandoni and Juliet Eilperin for The Washington Post.

According to the energy department, "[m]ore than 2,000 fuel cell vehicles have been sold or leased in the U.S. since 2015." With the Toyota Mirai now available for sale or lease, expect to see more on the road in California which has a developing network of hydrogen refueling infrastructure. Also see:

For a listing of the advantages and disadvantages of hydrogen fuel cells (which have more applications that just transportation), see Green Garage.

Friday, July 7, 2017 in AASHTO Journal

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