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Review of the Research Program of the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership: First Report Executive Summary THE FREEDOMCAR AND FUEL PARTNERSHIP This is the first report of the Committee on Review of the FreedomCAR and Fuel Research Program, Phase I, formed in the fall of 2004 by the National Research Council (NRC). This FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership is a collaboration among the U.S. government—in particular, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)—the U.S. Council for Automotive Research (USCAR), whose members are DaimlerChrysler Corporation, Ford Motor Company, and General Motors Corporation), and five major energy companies: BP America, Chevron Corporation, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil Corporation, and Shell Hydrogen (U.S.). At DOE, the program is managed through the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). This is a broad, very challenging research effort to assist in the development of high-risk technologies that will enable the vision of “a clean and sustainable transportation energy future” (DOE, 2004). To achieve that future, the program envisions a transition pathway involving more efficient internal combustion engines (ICEs), followed by increasing use of advanced ICE hybrid electric vehicles and then, by 2015, enablement of the private sector to make a decision about the commercialization of fuel-cell-powered personal transportation vehicles that run on economically competitive hydrogen produced from a variety of energy sources. Research goals have been established for 2010 and 2015 that, if attained, promise to overcome the multiple high-risk barriers to achieving that vision. A major strength of the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership is that, like its predecessor, the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV) program, it is organized around joint industry/government research teams. This structure brings the capabilities of the nation’s federal laboratories and other research institutions to bear on overcoming the problems, identified by industry, that are
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Review of the Research Program of the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership: First Report critical to achieving the program vision. This kind of cooperation is a very effective way to develop technologies that will satisfy all of the requirements for the deployment of radically new systems in the marketplace on a large scale. However, unlike the PNGV program, which aimed at the development of concept and preproduction prototype automobiles, the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership addresses the development of advanced technologies for all light-duty passenger vehicles—for example, cars, sport utility vehicles, pickups, and minivans. Another strength of the new partnership is that it includes fuel production and infrastructure technologies and that it includes five energy companies, adding essential knowledge about fuels to the program. The funding in FY05 for DOE programs falling under the purview of the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership is about $310 million and covers basic research, applied research, development, learning demonstrations, and deployment (including education that supports technology transfer and adoption). The complexity of the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership is evident from the broad scope of the technical areas addressed: Internal combustion engines (both petroleum- and hydrogen-fueled), Fuel cell power systems, Fuel cells, Hydrogen storage systems, Energy storage systems for hybrid vehicles, Electric propulsion systems, Hydrogen production and delivery systems, and Materials for lightweight vehicles. There are 11 technical teams consisting of individuals from the national laboratories, the private sector, and the federal government: Advanced combustion and emissions control, Fuel cell systems, Onboard hydrogen storage, Electrochemical storage, Electrical and electronics, Materials, Hydrogen production, Hydrogen delivery, Fuel/vehicle pathway integration, Codes and standards, and Systems engineering and analysis. DOE is the lead government agency in the Partnership, and a number of its offices are involved. EERE has primary responsibility for the program through its
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Review of the Research Program of the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership: First Report FreedomCAR and Vehicle Technologies (FCVT) program and its Hydrogen, Fuel Cells, and Infrastructure Technologies (HFCIT) program. In addition, research and development (R&D) on hydrogen production from coal and nuclear energy is carried out in DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy (FE) and its Office of Nuclear Energy, Science and Technology (NE). The Office of Science’s Basic Energy Sciences (BES) program is focused on fundamental work in such areas as hydrogen production, hydrogen storage, and catalysts. The U.S. Department of Transportation also participates in safety-related work. FOCUS OF THE COMMITTEE’S REPORT An earlier NRC report, The Hydrogen Economy: Opportunities, Costs, Barriers and R&D Needs (NRC/NAE, 2004), addressed many of the R&D activities associated with the hydrogen parts of the program, such as hydrogen production, distribution, dispensing, and storage, as well as a transition strategy for making hydrogen more widely available. That report provides an excellent review of the challenges and potential benefits of using hydrogen as a transportation fuel and offers recommendations for the DOE R&D program. The current committee used the results of The Hydrogen Economy report and referred to its recommendations. The current report presents the committee’s evaluation of DOE-sponsored research efforts directed at the goal of a hydrogen economy under the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership and offers comments and suggestions on the technical directions, strategies, funding, and management of the Partnership. Because The Hydrogen Economy report had just been published as the current committee was being constituted, with regard to the hydrogen technology parts of the Partnership, the committee reviewed just the plans of the three new hydrogen-fuel-related technical teams (hydrogen production; hydrogen delivery; fuel/vehicle pathway integration). The primary charge to the committee was as follows: Review the challenging high-level technical goals and timetables for government and industry R&D efforts in the various technical areas being addressed by the Partnership. Review and evaluate progress and program directions since the inception of the Partnership towards meeting the Partnership’s 2010 technical goals, and examine ongoing research activities and their relevance to meeting the goals of the Partnership. Examine and comment on the overall balance and adequacy of the FreedomCAR and Fuel research effort, and the rate of progress, in light of the technical objectives and schedules for each of the major technology areas. Examine and comment, as necessary, on the appropriate role for federal involvement in the various technical areas under development.
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Review of the Research Program of the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership: First Report Examine and comment on the Partnership’s strategy for accomplishing its goals. This Executive Summary presents only the main conclusions and recommendations of the committee’s report. The body of the report contains additional observations, findings, and recommendations on specific aspects of the program. The rest of the Executive Summary presents the technical areas discussed in Chapters 3 and 4 and briefly addresses crosscutting issues. AN EXTREMELY CHALLENGING PROGRAM The FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership is an extremely challenging program, whose ultimate vision involves a fundamental transformation of automotive technologies and the supporting fuel infrastructure. Many technical barriers exist and need to be overcome to achieve this vision, and fundamental invention is probably needed to meet the program’s technical performance and cost targets. Even if the technical targets are met, transitioning from the current fuel infrastructure based on gasoline and diesel fuel to one based on hydrogen derived from a variety of sources will be a formidable social and economic challenge. The committee believes that research in support of this vision is justified by the potentially enormous beneficial impact for the nation. At this early stage, no insurmountable barriers to achievement of this vision have been identified but several critical components of the program have been noted. Specific, quantitative 2010 and 2015 technology and cost goals have been established by the technical teams. These goals bear on each important element of the program, and the current status of the program relative to these goals is discussed in the body of this report. In view of the large number of unknowns and the need for breakthroughs, the committee does not feel that it is appropriate or useful at this time to speculate on the probability of this program achieving its long-term vision according to its current plan. Funding levels and the consequent research results during the next few years should allow future reviews to make a more firmly based assessment. TECHNICAL AREAS Advanced Combustion Engines and Emission Controls Conclusion. The various types of ICEs will play a critical transitional role in achieving the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership’s long-term goal. Even assuming the successful eventual transition to hydrogen as a primary transportation fuel, the ICE will be the automotive power plant that consumes most of the fuel in the fleet for several decades during the transition. Reducing the fuel consumption and emissions of ICEs is, therefore, critically important. Novel emission reduc-
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Review of the Research Program of the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership: First Report tion and control technologies are needed, and the cooperation of energy companies in research programs aimed at these technologies will increase the likelihood of finding solutions using hydrocarbon-based or alternative liquid fuels. Hydrogen might also become a fuel for the ICE if a viable system for its production, distribution, and storage for transportation vehicles is developed and implemented. Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Storage Conclusion. The Partnership has an extremely ambitious goal: to develop both vehicle and infrastructure technology that would make it possible for automotive companies to decide in 2015 whether or not to build commercially viable fuel-cell-powered vehicles. The development of commercially viable fuel cells and onboard hydrogen storage is, without question, the most difficult vehicular aspect of this program. Multiple challenges are being addressed: performance, durability, efficiency, and cost, and they are being worked on at all levels: basic technology, the individual components, stacks, and systems. For fuel cells, durability and cost are the most difficult goals, and for hydrogen storage, the most difficult are size, weight, and cost. In most instances, solutions depend on yet-to-be-conceived or -proven component and manufacturing technology rather than incremental improvement. While this makes outcomes difficult to predict, the committee agrees with the strategy and research directions that DOE is taking to address both the fuel cell and hydrogen storage areas; however, some areas need greater effort. Recommendation. DOE should expand activity and raise priorities on membrane R&D, new catalyst systems, and electrode design (with the BES program). In particular, the Partnership should focus the national laboratories and other appropriate scientific centers on fundamental failure mechanisms, including a better understanding of the chemistry, physics, and materials involved. Recommendation. In view of the risk posed to the entire hydrogen program by the currently unmet need for a viable hydrogen storage system, the hydrogen storage technical team and the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership leadership team should report annually to all program participants, DOE, and Congress on the state of hydrogen storage technology worldwide relative to the goals and targets of the program. Electrochemical Energy Storage for Electric Vehicles Conclusion. Since using hydrogen as a transportation fuel would necessitate several significant breakthroughs, other alternatives to achieve the program goals should be explored and additional research supported if such alternatives show
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Review of the Research Program of the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership: First Report comparable prospects for success. The committee suggests that high-energy batteries for pure battery electric vehicles might be such an alternative. The development of high-energy batteries would also increase the efficiency of advanced hybrid electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles and accelerate the deployment of plug-in hybrid vehicles. Recommendation. Searching for breakthrough technology in the area of high-energy batteries for electric vehicles should be a high priority of the program. Electrical Systems and Electronics Conclusion. The multiple systems in a fuel cell hybrid electric vehicle require both control and coordination. These functions will be provided by electronics, both for power and signal needs. The integrating role of a vehicle’s electrical system makes it a critical-path technology, both functionally and economically. Thermal performance and cost are major challenges for both the propulsion and power electronics systems. Closer coordination of activities in this area is essential to meet the milestones of the program. Recommendation. The electrical and electronics technical team should develop a process for coordinating the diverse activities it is overseeing. Integrating the electronics with the motor may well provide significant cost advantages. The team should consider such potential benefits and develop aggressive targets for an integrated system by 2010 and 2015. In addition, it should become aware of and leverage the high-temperature semiconductor, packaging, and thermal management work being funded by government agencies at universities, commercial organizations, and the national laboratories. Hydrogen Fuel Production and Distribution Conclusion. The committee compliments DOE on rapidly implementing most of the recommendations from The Hydrogen Economy and encourages program managers to ensure that sufficient efforts go into developing technologies and resolving issues for the transition period. Since the ultimate goal of a widespread hydrogen-fueled transportation system requires a massive infrastructure change, attention to the transition period and to how such change might be systematically achieved is critical. Systems analysis is an important tool for helping to understand and accelerate this transition. Recommendation. DOE should pay special attention to the transition from the current ICE fuels infrastructure to a nascent hydrogen economy. As part of this attention, DOE should further focus the achievements of the fuel/vehicle pathway integration technical team by placing greater emphasis on the transition to hydro-
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Review of the Research Program of the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership: First Report gen in its systems analysis work and should apply its systems capabilities to analyzing whether the cost goals for hydrogen production, established for a mature hydrogen economy, are appropriate for the transition. Specifically, this analysis should examine whether setting a hydrogen cost goal during the transition that is higher than the cost goal for a mature hydrogen economy would speed or impede the introduction of fuel-cell-powered vehicles. Conclusion. Providing hydrogen for fuel-cell-powered vehicles during the transition period will initially require many refueling locations for a relatively small number of vehicles. This would probably be best accomplished by generating hydrogen at or near these locations rather than at large central hydrogen production facilities. Recommendation. The committee believes that significant development efforts should be directed to distributed hydrogen production, including natural gas reforming and electrolysis as well as exploratory work on other distributed generation options. Conclusion. Successfully dealing with the need for carbon sequestration is critically important to making coal and natural gas acceptable energy sources in a carbon-constrained world. Research in this area should be an integral part of the program. Recommendation. DOE should create a carbon capture and storage (CCS) system subteam (under the hydrogen production team) in the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership and make it part of the overall Hydrogen Fuel Initiative. Materials Conclusion. Vehicle programs designed to achieve major fuel economy improvements must incorporate significant weight savings. The widespread application of lightweight materials and innovative manufacturing processes is necessary to attain this goal. FreedomCAR has set a vehicle weight reduction target of 50 percent, with the additional criterion “affordable cost.” Affordability is the main barrier to meeting the 50 percent goal, and it is unlikely to be achieved within the time frame of this program. The alternative is to relax the weight reduction goal or allow a cost penalty or some combination of the two. The fundamental issue with carbon-fiber-reinforced polymers is the development of low-cost carbon fibers. Recommendation. More extensive research on carbon-fiber-reinforced polymers and direct cooperation with the major fiber manufacturers appear necessary for any hope of success within the program time frame. Meanwhile, R&D on manufacturing of vehicle structures should continue.
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Review of the Research Program of the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership: First Report Conclusion. Overall, although cost reduction is the most important need in many structural materials programs, the committee believes that research activities, with a few exceptions, will do little to achieve this goal. Recommendation. DOE should review its expenditures on materials research to see if some of them should be applied instead to potentially more fruitful areas of research, such as hydrogen storage materials, batteries, fuel cells, and infrastructure. CROSSCUTTING ISSUES Safety Conclusion. The transition to using hydrogen as a primary transportation fuel raises a multitude of safety questions that must be dealt with by many participants during each phase of the program. The committee believes that this is an extremely important subject that deserves continuing high-level attention and additional funding. Both real and perceived safety concerns exist, and all of them must be proactively and effectively dealt with to ensure the success of the program. The critical need to develop safety-related technology, codes, and standards (including vehicle standards) and inculcate widespread safety awareness before hydrogen vehicles can be widely introduced justifies a focused effort in this area. This effort should include the wide dissemination of DOE, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and USCAR reports and peer-reviewed papers on hydrogen safety issues. Recommendation. DOE should form a new, crosscutting safety technical team with a mission that includes broad hydrogen-related safety issues, not only for the Office of Hydrogen, Fuel Cells and Infrastructure Technology (HFCIT), but for the other DOE offices as well. This new team should incorporate the existing codes and standards technical team as a subteam. Both DOE and NHTSA need enough resources to carry out their assigned safety roles. Public Concerns Conclusion. In addition to the very demanding technical challenges, some issues surrounding societal acceptance may be pivotal and ultimately determine the feasibility of creating a fleet of hydrogen-fueled vehicles and a supporting infrastructure. The present review of the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership focuses on the technical challenges. However, the committee considers it important to recognize that implementing the current program vision will require not only substantial technical breakthroughs but also successful efforts to address public concerns about the widespread use of hydrogen as a transportation fuel. The
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Review of the Research Program of the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership: First Report learning demonstrations program, just getting under way, should be a big step in this direction. The committee also notes that there is a need to understand the potential long-term ecological and environmental effects of the change to a hydrogen-fueled economy. Recommendation. DOE, in collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency, should systematically identify and examine possible long-term ecological and environmental effects of large-scale hydrogen use and production from various energy sources. Importance of Systems Analysis Conclusion. The FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership has made an excellent start on developing significant systems analysis capability and has been particularly responsive to the relevant recommendations of the report The Hydrogen Economy. Recommendation. The FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership should use its systems analysis capability routinely in the program management process, establishing goals, evaluating trade-offs, setting priorities, and making go/no-go decisions. Conclusion. To date the systems analysis technical team has focused on the development and refinement of systems analysis tools to predict vehicle and component characteristics. The committee believes that there is need for more than this. The complex nature of the program makes it critical to develop and use a robust, overall well-to-wheels systems analysis that will enable informed trade-off decisions throughout the program. Recommendation. An ongoing, integrated well-to-wheels assessment should be made of the Partnership’s progress toward its overall objectives of reducing the nation’s oil dependence and introducing hydrogen as a transportation fuel, if appropriate. This assessment should examine possible trade-offs between the individual goals of the fuel program and the vehicle program, as well as between short-term goals and long-term goals, and between energy sources, to guide future research priorities and, ultimately, national transportation energy policy. Program Balance and Funding Short- and Longer-Term Goals Conclusion. The Partnership involves both short-term goals related to hydrocarbon-fueled vehicles used during a transition period and much longer-term goals aimed at enabling “a clean and sustainable transportation energy future.” The
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Review of the Research Program of the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership: First Report committee considers the current split of funding between the long-term and shorter-term goals to be appropriate. Hydrogen-related activities—for example, fuel cells, hydrogen production, distribution, and safety—absorb approximately 70 percent of the funds. The remaining funds support the development of transition technologies, where cost is often the most significant barrier. Congressionally Directed Funding Conclusion. During the last 2 years, congressionally directed funding to specific recipients and activities has diverted resources from efforts focused on critical program goals, particularly in the hydrogen portion of the program. The committee believes this earmarking increases the risk of missing critical program milestones and targets, places high demands on DOE management time, and signals to the industry partners somewhat less than full government support for the program goals. If this practice continues and appropriations are not increased to compensate for it, milestones for the program will most certainly have to slip. Congressional and administration leaders should be made aware of how congressionally directed funding affects program timing and leads to shortfalls in meeting its goals. In addition, DOE should ensure that these leaders understand the critical importance of the key parts of the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership to achieving its long-term, high-level goals. Strategy for Accomplishing Goals Program Management and Communications Conclusion. Overall the committee is encouraged by the progress the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership has made in program management and communications across the many activities and interfaces of the DOE offices and contractors, USCAR, and the energy companies. Setting Priorities Conclusion. The committee believes that the setting of priorities needs more emphasis. It appears to the committee that several technical programs may not be contributing solutions to the most critical and important issues. There have not been any integrated assessments of overall progress toward the broad objectives of reducing petroleum demand and introducing hydrogen. Such assessments would be valuable in informing the Partnership’s high-level program decision making. Recommendation. The FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership should perform an overall program evaluation, using go/no-go decisions and setting priorities that
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Review of the Research Program of the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership: First Report focus resources on programs that will contribute most to solving the problems critical to the success of the long-term program goals. Value of Learning Demonstrations Conclusion. The learning demonstrations program is very important to validate current component and systems concepts and to uncover previously unknown issues. Such demonstrations will establish many system and engineering parameters for a complete operating hydrogen supply and a fuel cell transportation system. These cooperative programs are well designed. Information will be collected from both vehicle and infrastructure components, pooled, and shared. It will guide the technical teams as well as the systems and modeling efforts and help to establish appropriate program priorities. REFERENCES DOE. 2004. Partnership Plan. FreedomCAR & Fuel Partnership. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Available on the Web at <http://www.eere.energy.gov/vehiclesandfuels/pdfs/program/fc_fuel_partnership_plan.pdf>. NRC/NAE (National Research Council/National Academy of Engineering). 2004. The Hydrogen Economy: Opportunities, Costs, Barriers, and R&D Needs. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.
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