Suggested Citation: Miller, Marshall and David H. Swan (1996) Statewide Fuel Cell Research, Design, and Development Collaboration Plan. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-96-04
This report describes the major research and development necessary to commercialize fuel cells in transportation applications. Fuel cells are a relatively immature technology facing very strong competition from internal combustion engines. Combustion engines have propelled vehicles since near the beginning of the century, and many decades of research and hundreds of billions of dollars investment have resulted in a high quality product. In contrast, fuel cell R&D for transportation began roughly one decade ago with a total budget of well under one billion dollars. This report identifies specific areas where the fuel cell community can act to benefit the commercialization of fuel cells. The original intent of this document was to identify a non-proprietary R&D agenda that could be the focus of a California Center of Excellence. The findings, however, indicate that fuel cell firms will probably not collaborate on critical R&D issues. However, this report gives particular emphasis to collaborative research where the results are in the public domain. Since funding is limited, research which benefits the entire fuel cell community can be especially valuable. The remainder of the introduction discusses reasons for replacing internal combustion engines with fuel cells and suggests a plausible timescale for the introduction of fuel cell vehicles. Chapter Two describes fuel cell technology and the benefits or problems associated with various fuels. Chapter Three describes the present performance of fuel cell systems and lists major fuel cell research and vehicle programs. Chapter Four describes the major fuel cell vehicle programs in North America and the fuel cell programs in California. Chapter Five gives estimates of fuel cell system performance in order to meet commercial specifications. In addition, the technical improvements and related R&D necessary for commercialization are described. Finally, Chapter Six gives recommendations for how the fuel cell community can act to accelerate fuel cell commercialization.