Research Papers

Hydrogen Fuel: Opportunities and Barriers

[+] Author and Article Information
Prashant Kumar, Rex Britter

 University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 1PZ, UK

Nitesh Gupta

 Delhi College of Engineering, Delhi 110042, India

The scenario in which vehicle distance driven increases gradually from 2000 but then peaks and drops slightly to 2050.

The scenario in which vehicle distance driven increases throughout the period up to 2050.

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 6(2), 021009 (Feb 25, 2009) (7 pages) doi:10.1115/1.3005384 History: Received June 14, 2007; Revised March 08, 2008; Published February 25, 2009

The fact that 65% of the oil use is by the transportation sector, the increasing gap between the oil supply and demand, and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions make the introduction of alternative fuels, together with large energy efficiency gains, a key to sustainable mobility, both nationally and globally. The history of alternative fuels has not been very successful. Various economic, social, and technological barriers have impeded the acceptance of energy carriers such as hydrogen as a major transportation fuel. An effective interaction between the societal system of vehicle owners and a supply infrastructure of alternative fuels is needed for mass adoption of these future technologies. However, hydrogen due to its production pathways, particularly from renewable resources, inexhaustible, and clean nature, an ubiquitous presence and its promise of a sustainable transportable energy source give it a strong edge to be fuel of the future. This paper discusses the economical, social, and technological implications on the use of hydrogen as a future transport fuel. Furthermore, three cases based on UK Department of Transport studies showing the penetration of high efficiency vehicles, fuel cell vehicles (FCVs), and hydrogen fuel internal combustion engine vehicles (H2-ICEs) into the future transport fleet are discussed. With some assumptions, it indicates clearly that by the end of 2050 the H2-ICEs will play a major role in the UK transport sector whereas more time is needed for FCVs due to their less compelling consumer value possibility. Also, it can be inferred that the emissions from hydrogen’s full life cycle are about half those of the direct emissions from nonrenewable fuels such as the natural gas from which it is produced, thereby showing a promising future of hydrogen fuel to cope with the problem of climate change and the continuously increasing scarcity of conventional/fossil fuels.

Copyright © 2009 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 1

Schematic showing the sources, production, and use of renewable hydrogen (17)

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Figure 2

Comparison of estimated current and midterm costs of hydrogen production in UK, as delivered to user. Figure produced by using the data taken from Refs. 18-19.

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Figure 3

Total vehicle kilometer traveled under the base case (representing Case 1) penetration of HEVs in the GS and WM scenarios (17). This figure is based on the assumption that the penetration of the HEVs into the world market is from 2004.

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Figure 4

This figure represents the Case 2 where the penetration of HEVs and FCVs in the GS and WM scenarios is considered (17). It is assumed the HEVs falls from 2020 onward due to their substitution by FCVs, and FCVs are assumed to achieve a penetration close to 100% of the vehicle stock by 2050.

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Figure 5

This figure is representing the Case 3 where the penetration of H2-ICEs and replacement of conventionally fueled vehicles under the GS and WM scenarios is considered (17). This figure shows that H2-ICEs provide nearly 100% of the vehicle stock in 2050, whereas FCVs require ten more years than H2-ICEs due to the less compelling consumer value proposition.

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Figure 6

Renewable hydrogen production potential compared with fuel requirements of hydrogen vehicle under WM and GS scenarios. The data have been taken from Ref. 17. The energy crop potential in 2050 corresponds to planting 4Mha of land with lignocellulosic crops with an average yield of 15odt∕ha∕y and an energy content of 18GJ∕odt.

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Figure 7

Comparison of equivalent CO2 emissions for light duty ICEV’s with the other transportation fuels. The data have been taken from GHGenious model, which calculates the CO2 emissions for various fuels taking into consideration their production life cycle and use.




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