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Unsettled Issues Concerning the Use of Fuel Cells in Electric Ground Vehicles

  • Research Report
  • EPR2019002
Published October 29, 2019 by SAE International in United States
  • English
Hydrogen fuel is rapidly emerging as a clean energy carrier solution that has the potential to decarbonize a variety of industries, including, or predominantly, the transportation industry. Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), which electrochemically combine stored hydrogen with atmospheric oxygen to efficiently generate electricity while producing only water vapor and small amounts of heat, are heralded to be a game-changing technology. The so-called hydrogen economy has the potential to displace traditional fossil fuel-based economy, with the transportation industry being the first mover in the hydrogen space.
Technological advances made in the last decade in the areas of hydrogen generation and fuel cell technology have enabled the current uptake of hydrogen-based solutions for vehicle applications. Reduced costs, climate change, and carbon tax mechanisms are driving many governments, manufacturers, and consumers toward hydrogen-powered vehicles. The major drawbacks of hydrogen compared to the other competing clean-energy technologies (e.g., battery power), is the high cost of hydrogen refueling and FCEVs. However, application of the economy of scale will enable further cost reduction and broad international uptake of hydrogen in automotive applications.
This SAE EDGE™ Research Report explores the opportunities and challenges of hydrogen and fuel cell systems in the automotive industry. With the help of expert contributors, several different technological, economic, and safety aspects are considered to develop a better understanding of this emerging hydrogen-based automotive industry. While debates between proponents of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and FCEVs continue, the current report discusses the unsettled issues in the latter technology and presents a critical overview of the hydrogen and fuel cell systems in the automotive industry. Finally, the report concludes with a series of recommendations aimed at the industry and government stakeholders for implementing and advancing hydrogen transportation projects.
NOTE: SAE EDGE™ Research Reports are intended to identify and illuminate critical issues in emerging, but still unsettled, technologies of interest to the mobility industry. The goal of SAE EDGE™ Research Reports is to stimulate discussion and work in the hope of promoting and speeding resolution of identified issues. SAE EDGE™ Research Reports are not intended to resolve the issues they identify or close any topic to further scrutiny.