Fuel cell electric vehicles are here!

    According to the December EERE newsletter, the first commercially available fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) have hit the street. Offering zero emissions, these passenger vehicles have the driving range, ease of refueling, and performance of today's gasoline vehicle.

    As explained in Sunita Satyapal's article on, fuel cells were originally built for space applications. The cells work like batteries that produce electricity and heat as long as fuel is supplied, without any combustion or carbon emissions. Fuel cells operate on fuels like hydrogen, natural gas, and propane and they do not run down or need recharging.

    Hyundai recently started leasing their FCEV, and last month Toyota announced FCEVs are available for sale. This is on track with the Energy Department’s original plans for R&D resulting in commercial decisions being made in the 2015 timeframe. The Energy Department also plans a $5.5 million project to collect real-world data from the operation of next generation FCEVs from several carmakers including Toyota, Hyundai, Nissan, Daimler, Honda and GM.

    Research funded by the Energy Department has cut the cost of automotive fuel cells in half since 2006, and has significantly reduced the amount of costly platinum catalyst. Innovative fuel cell catalysts developed by Brookhaven National Lab are now being licensed by commercial catalyst suppliers and could be used by automakers in the future for their FCEVs.  Energy Department-funded efforts have resulted in 500 patents, 45 commercial technologies in the market, and 65 technologies that are projected to be commercialized within three to five years.

    The 2013 Fuel Cell Technologies Market Report indicates that more than 35,000 fuel cell units have been shipped worldwide. This is a 30% increase in global shipments and a 60% increase in North American shipments just in the last year.

    To learn more about fuel cell technology, view EERE’s info page:

    For more information on how fuel cell technologies are being used and the progress of the technology, take a look at these reports:
    The States of the States, Fuel Cells in America 2014
    Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program Annual Progress Report

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