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Published on October 14th, 2015 | by Tina Casey

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What If They Had A National Fuel Cell Day & Nobody Came?

October 14th, 2015 by  


Well, they did have a National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day last week here in the US, on October 8 to be exact. It appears that nobody noticed, not even CleanTechnica, until now that is, when we happened to stumble across it. Coincidentally, yesterday was also the day that a major announcement about fuel cell electric vehicles came from across the pond, marking a major step toward introducing FCEVs in the London transportation market.

hydrogen FCEVs

Wow, US Legislators Agree On Something!

October 8 was officially declared the first ever National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day because 1.008 is the atomic weight of hydrogen (clever, right?). Given the total chaos roaming the halls of the free world’s leading legislative body these days (thanks to these guys), it’s amazing that anybody could agree on anything, but before you get too excited, keep in mind that the declaration was by Senate resolution, not a full bill passed by both houses of Congress.

Be that as it may, we’re going to celebrate belatedly by reposting most of the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day Resolution here, so in case you had any doubts that the US is committed to growing the market for FCEVs, see if you can find any clues here:

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
July 8, 2015

Designating October 8, 2015, as ‘‘National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day’’.

Whereas hydrogen, which has an atomic mass of 1.008, is the most abundant chemical substance in the universe;

Whereas the United States is a world leader in the development and deployment of fuel cell and hydrogen technologies;

Whereas fuel cells utilizing hydrogen and hydrogen-rich fuels to generate electricity are clean, efficient, resilient technologies being sold for stationary and backup power, zero-emission light duty motor vehicles and buses, industrial vehicles, and portable power;

Whereas stationary fuel cells can help reduce water use compared to traditional power generation technologies;

Whereas fuel cell electric light duty motor vehicles and buses that utilize hydrogen can completely replicate the experience of internal combustion vehicles including comparable range and refueling times;

Whereas hydrogen fuel cell industrial vehicles are being deployed at logistical hubs and warehouses across the country and are also being exported to facilities in Europe and Asia;

Whereas hydrogen is a non-toxic gas that can be derived from a variety of domestically available traditional and renewable resources, including solar, wind, biogas and the abundant supply of natural gas in the United States;

Whereas hydrogen and fuel cells can store energy to help enhance the grid and maximize opportunities to deploy renewable energy;

Whereas the United States currently produces and uses more than 11,000,000 metric tons of hydrogen per year; and

Resolved, That the Senate designates October 8, 2015, as “National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day.”

Just One Problem With Hydrogen FCEVs…

If you noticed that little thing about natural gas, that’s one of the reasons why CleanTechnica hasn’t been all over fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) with quite the same enthusiasm as we lavish on battery electric vehicles. Currently, fossil natural gas is the main source of hydrogen fuel for FCEVs, which here in the US translates into earthquakes, water resource issues, premature births, and other impacts related to natural gas fracking and fracking wastewater disposal.

However, just as battery EVs are overcoming their fossil fuel problem, FCEVs are on track to transition to renewable hydrogen sources, leaving price and fueling station availability among the other obstacles between you and your new FCEV.



 

…But Let’s Celebrate Anyways

The Energy Department’s National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day announcement highlighted some key points, including funding for research that has sliced the projected cost of commercial production for automotive fuel cells in half since 2006.

The agency also takes credit for reducing the projected cost of commercial hydrogen production down to parity with gasoline on a per-mile basis, though we’re not so excited about that because the research is specifically aimed at sourcing hydrogen from natural gas (when they start talking hydrogen from biogas, that’s a different matter).

Group hug, taxpayers — the agency’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office is in the middle of “the world’s largest independent FCEV validation project of its kind with automakers,” involving more than 215 FCEVs and 6 million miles on the road. Let’s pause to note that, with no tailpipe emissions, we can assume that none of the automakers involved in the project cheated on their emissions test.

CleanTechnica noted the launch of the national H2USA public-private FCEV commercialization initiative when it launched in 2013, and that made the Energy Department’s list of celebratory items, too.

More FCEV News To Celebrate

The Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory also got into the spirit of celebration by using National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day to officially dedicated a new 700-bar (bar refers to pressure) “advanced” hydrogen fueling station at its new Hydrogen Infrastructure Testing and Research Facility (HITRF) in Golden, Colorado.

HITRF is specifically focused on hydrogen production through electrolysis (that’s fancyspeak for water-splitting), building on NREL’s previous experience with wind-powered electrolysis.

Partly to help speed the installation of new hydrogen fueling stations for FCEVs, the new facility is modeled after retail stations. That enables private sector partners to use the same platform and validate new fueling systems for commercial use within a week or so, compared to the 6-to-8 weeks it normally takes.

Not to be outshined by its own research division, the Energy Department followed up on October 9 with a recap of a new $20 million round of funding for hydrogen fuel cell R&D and the release of its new 2014 Fuel Cell Technologies Market Report, demonstrating continued growth for the fuel cell industry at an “unprecedented rate.”

The $20 million will cover 10 projects, 7 of which involve hydrogen production and delivery, including something called microbial biomass conversion.

The other three are demonstration projects designed to accelerate the early adoption of FCEVs, including something we predicted a while back — namely, using fuel cells as range extenders for hybrid battery electric vehicles.

The Energy Department would also like you to know that the city of Ithaca in New York is on track to host the nation’s very first commercial FCEV fueling station, complete with hydrogen produced on site via electrolysis.

Now that we’re all caught up with the US, stay tuned for that news from London.

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Image (screenshot) via US Department of Energy.


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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.



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