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10 Things You Didn't Know About Hydrogen

Did you know that the world produces enough hydrogen right now to fuel 200 million fuel cell-electric vehicles (FCEVs)? More than 56 billion kilograms of hydrogen are produced globally each year (the equivalent of 56 billion gallons of gasoline).

53% of the hydrogen produced in North America is already dedicated to transportation, enough to fuel 21 million FCEVs. It's used to make gasoline cleaner by removing sulfur from petroleum at refineries.

A large hydrogen production site exists today near almost every major U.S. and European city. View a map of U.S. sites (228Kb PDF)

Hydrogen can be affordable with today's technology. If we use current technology to make hydrogen, it can cost the equivalent of $3 to $6 per gallon of gasoline at the pump, not including taxes. Hydrogen can be delivered at the pump within this equivalent price range when made from natural gas, water (using electricity from wind), plants and coal. (This assumes that a fuel cell is twice as efficient than a gasoline engine.)

The U.S. Department of Energy's target for total hydrogen cost is $2.00 - $3.00 per gallon of gasoline equivalent. There are several strategies that have potential to meet this target.

A system of hydrogen fueling stations may not be as expensive as you think. A $10 - $15 billion investment would put you within two miles of the nearest hydrogen station in the top 100 metro areas (where 70% of the population lives). This is one-half the cost of the Alaskan pipeline in today's dollars.

This infrastructure could support 1 million FCEVs, assuming there are 240 stations in L.A. and 240 in New York City. By comparison, in 2007, 324,318 gasoline electric hybrid vehicles were sold in the U.S.

Using natural gas to make hydrogen for the first hydrogen vehicles will not put a huge strain on our natural gas supply, and it would cut pollution in half. Just a 2% increase in U.S. natural gas supply would support 10 million FCEVs annually. That would reduce overall greenhouse gases by 50% for every gasoline vehicle replaced.

A fuel cell vehicle using hydrogen produced from water using renewable energy produces no exhaust emissions.

Where will you be able to buy a hydrogen car, and where will you fuel it? An increasing number of automakers are working with energy companies and the government to sell the first hydrogen vehicles and place hydrogen stations near the same cities (e.g., Los Angeles, New York or Shanghai). Search for fueling stations near you >>

The bottom line: a hydrogen infrastructure is economically viable and doable. It only requires the continued collective will of automakers, energy suppliers, and governments.
  Thank you to General Motors for compiling this information.

  • U.S. Department of Energy, including Energy Information Administration

  • D. Simbeck and E. Chang - “Hydrogen Supply: Cost Estimate for Hydrogen Pathways – Scooping Analysis”

  • SRI Consulting - “CEH Report Hydrogen”

  • S.C. Davis and S.W. Diegel - “Transportation Energy Data Book”

  • N. Brinkman, M. Wang, T. Weber and T. Darlington - “Well-to-Wheels Analysis of Advanced Fuel Cell/Vehicle Systems – a North American Study of Energy Use, Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Criteria Pollutant Emissions”

  • International Hydrogen Infrastructure Group, General Motors research - "Hydrogen Fueling Infrastructure Assessment" (1,646Kb PDF)

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