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Fuel Cell Vehicle and Fuel Analysis: A Comparison of energy use and emissions from Direct-Hydrogen, Indirect Methanol and Indirect Hydrocarbon Fuel Cell Vehicles and Fuel Production


Research Report

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Suggested Citation:
Moore, Robert M., Myron A. Hoffman, Paravastu Badrinarayanan, José F. Contadini, Joshua M. Cunningham, Claudia V. Diniz, Anthony R. Eggert, David J. Friedman, Monterey Gardiner, Karl-Heinz Hauer, Sitaram Ramaswamy, Meena Sundaresan, Peter Vagadori (2002) Fuel Cell Vehicle and Fuel Analysis: A Comparison of energy use and emissions from Direct-Hydrogen, Indirect Methanol and Indirect Hydrocarbon Fuel Cell Vehicles and Fuel Production. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-02-33

The UC-Davis Fuel Cell Vehicle Modeling Program (FCVMP) began developing and analyzing fuel cell vehicle (FCV) simulation models in early 1998. Over the course of more than three years, the research group has completed three complete fuel cell system and vehicle models. Specifically, this includes the direct hydrogen (DH), indirect methanol (IM), and indirect hydrocarbon (IH) FCV models. In addition to the vehicle models, concurrent development has occurred on a fuel pathway model for each of the three fuels considered. This model is called the Fuel Upstream Energy and Emissions Model (FUEEM). This report is meant to provide a summary of the method of analysis and example results from this research.

The FCVMP research group operates in a university setting and receives funding from numerous industry and non-industry supporting donors. We believe the FCVMP research group is in the unique position to objectively highlight, analyze in a realistically balanced way, the specific issues and large uncertainties associated with both a well-to-tank (WTT) and tank-to-wheel (TTW) analysis for the three vehicle and fuel configurations modeled.

The purpose of this report is not to compete with other public well-to-wheel (WTW) analyses. Rather, the goal is to highlight the major issues associated with the three FCV and fuel configurations. Specifically, this report does not present combined well-to-wheel (WTW) results. Instead, the analysis presents the vehicle and fuel upstream results independently. This was done for two reasons. First, it was felt that given the uncertainties involved, we wanted to avoid presenting results perceived as “single point answers”. Second, we wanted the emphasis placed on presenting a method of analysis rather than simple results.

We realize that the uncertainties involved both in vehicle design choices and in future fuel pathway developments are large and numerous, and that other choices could have been made. The examples presented in this report represent our current best estimate for vehicle configurations and fuels based on input from our supporting donors and other expert-networks. We are not attempting to state a specific simple answer for the very complex issue.

Given the magnitude of work that has been incorporated into the multi-year research that resulted in this report, it is impossible for us to summarize all aspects of the modeling, interactions, and results that we have investigated. This report represents what we consider the more important aspects of the modeling, as well as the key results generated from the project.

To review the sections that summarize the work from this analysis and research project, specifically refer to Sections 2.1, 2.2, and 4.1.3.