Publication Detail

Natural Gas as a Bridge to Hydrogen Fuel Cell Light-Duty Vehicles


Research Report

Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways (STEPS)

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Suggested Citation:
Burke, Andrew and Lin Zhu (2014) Natural Gas as a Bridge to Hydrogen Fuel Cell Light-Duty Vehicles. European Electric Vehicle Congress

In this paper, detailed comparisons are made between various types of light-duty vehicles fueled with natural gas and hydrogen. The natural gas vehicles are designed as charge sustaining hybrid vehicles (HEV) and the hydrogen fueled vehicles (FCV) are powered by a fuel cell. All the vehicles have a range of 400 miles between refueling stops. The paper discusses the on-board storage of natural gas (3600 psi) and hydrogen (10000 psi) in terms of the volume and weight of the tanks required and how fuel storage affects the vehicle design. Detailed computer simulations are presented for vehicle classes from compact cars to mid-size SUVs. The fuel economies of those vehicles are calculated for several driving cycles. The energy (MJ) and volume (L) of fuel storage required to meet the 400 mile range target for each vehicle using natural gas and hydrogen are compared.

The costs of the vehicles simulated are projected for 2015-2030. The differences between the costs of the natural gas hybrid vehicles and the fuel cell vehicles are calculated for the various vehicle types as the cost of the fuel cells, batteries, and other powertrain components decrease. The CO2 emissions from the CNG hybrid and fuel cell vehicles are determined and compared for hydrogen and electricity from natural gas. As a final step, the ways in which the introduction of the natural gas fueled vehicles could be a bridge to the mass marketing of fuel cell vehicles are considered.