Earlier this week the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association (FCHEA) launched the Zero Emissions. Zero Compromise.” campaign to raise public awareness about the benefits of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCVs). FCVs are poised to reduce American dependence on imported fossil fuels and revolutionize the transportation sector. In an effort to jump start the penetration of FCVs into the truck and car markets, the “Zero Emissions. Zero Compromise.” outreach campaign seeks to inform consumers and policymakers that there is a viable alternative to gasoline internal combustion engines. Increasing the general public's knowledge base is the first step in creating the necessary impetus for consumers to transition to fuel cell vehicles.

Fuel cell vehicles, powered by a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen that generates electricity, emit no pollution or emissions of any kind—just pure water. While similar to battery-powered electric vehicles, FCVs are superior when it comes to several performance metrics. FCVs can travel 300-400 miles on a single tank and only need three to five minutes to refuel, which is comparable to conventional gasoline-powered vehicles. This allows drivers to enjoy the performance they've grown to expect from gasoline vehicles while substantially reducing their impact on the environment.

Developing alternative fuel sources in the transportation sector is an important component of U.S. efforts to reduce total carbon emissions. Emissions from the transportation sector (trucks and cars) account for almost one-fifth of total U.S. carbon emissions, with 24 pounds of carbon dioxide and other pollutants emitted for every gallon of gasoline burned. Implementing policies that create incentives for consumers to switch to cleaner fuel cell vehicles (and other alternative fuel and electric vehicles) can help the United States reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Because they are combustion-free, fuel cell electric engines are two times more fuel efficient than gasoline-powered internal combustion engines. This greater efficiency leads to a 50 percent reduction in total greenhouse gas emissions over the vehicle's lifetime (fuel cells emit no greenhouse gases, but producing the hydrogen they run on does).

While the market penetration of fuel cell vehicles is still low, several trends point to a positive future for the industry. Three FCV models have recently hit the market in the United States (Hyundai's Tucson Fuel Cell, Toyota's Mirai FCV, and—soon—Honda's Clarity Fuel Cell), although they are only available in California for the time being. Eight states are working in coordination to enact policies that will put an estimated 3.3 million FCVs on the road by 2025. California is the leading force behind the initiative and has pledged to establish 100 hydrogen fueling stations by 2020.


Author: Tyler Smith