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Office of Energy Efficiency Links


Business: Industrial

Fuel Cells and Hydrogen

What are fuel cells and hydrogen?
Availability and Cost
Safety and Performance
Government Programs and Regulations

Availability and Cost


A few tests of fuel cell vehicles are being carried out, but the technology is not yet commercially available. In the US, California has low emissions vehicle standards which include a zero emission vehicle or ZEV component Eleven states have adopted CA's LEV. LEV has two components, the reduction of 1) criteria air emissions, and 2) GHG emissions. Originally, the ZEV part of LEV required 10% sales of ZEVs A ZEV could be a fuel cell or battery electric vehicle, or other type of zero emission vehicle. This has been altered due to conflicts with autos on the feasibility of these standards.

It is no longer a 10% requirement for pure ZEVs, Now ZEV includes true 2% ZEVs as well as 6% partial ZEVs and 2% advanced technology ZEVs, AT PZEVs include hybrid vehicles.

The Canadian Transportation Fuel Cell Alliance is demonstrating and evaluating fuelling options for fuel cell vehicles.

Fuel and refuelling

Hydrogen can be stored as a liquid at low temperatures, as a gas at high pressures, in a solid (metal hydride), or in a hydrogen carrier such as methanol.

A refuelling infrastructure will need to be established before fuel cell vehicles can be mass-produced. Fuel cells can be refuelled either with hydrogen directly or with a fuel that can be reformed to produce hydrogen, such as natural gas, methanol or gasoline. Reforming can be done at a hydrogen production plant, at a refuelling station or even on board a vehicle. Unless the fuel cell system is based on gasoline, considerable investment will likely have to be made to develop an infrastructure for fuel cell vehicles before any general market introduction.