Hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles may come to the market soon, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). As part of an effort to bring hydrogen-powered vehicles to consumer markets and lower costs, the DOE recently completed a seven-year project evaluating the viability of hydrogen fuel cell technology and infrastructure in real-world settings, the agency reported. The project was led by the DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and received funding from the DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

“The project results show that fuel cell electric vehicles have advanced rapidly,” said Keith Wipke, acting manager of NREL’s Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Technologies Program and the report’s lead author. “As vehicle manufacturers and other researchers worldwide continue to focus on the remaining challenges of balancing durability, cost and high-volume manufacturability, there is optimism that manufacturers will introduce FCEVs [fuel cell electric vehicles] to the market within the next few years.”

Over the seven-year project, NREL analyzed data from more than 500,000 vehicle trips comprising 3.6 million miles. The project's goals were to create vehicles that had a 250-mile driving range, 2,000 hours of fuel cell durability, and a $3 per gallon gasoline equivalent for hydrogen production costs. Of the four teams that worked on the project, at least one team exceeded the targets, with one team achieving a 254-mile driving range and a team showing projected average fuel cell stack durability of 2,521 hours.