Vision
We will demonstrate a clean, secure, transportable fuel-hydrogen.
This will be accomplished by expanding the existing technology base to demonstrate integrated hydrogen production, fueling, and automotive drive systems.
Universal availability of this clean fuel will ensure the security of the U.S. transportation system and those of other nations that use this new technology.

Situation Analysis
Although the technical benefits of using hydrogen as a transportation fuel have long been acknowledged, there is renewed interest now because new technology appears to make it feasible in the near future.
Hydrogen-powered, fuel-cell or hybrid electric cars are expected to have fuel costs comparable to today's gasoline cars. Since hydrogen is available domestically, this offers the potential for dramatically reducing the $50 billion the U.S. spends annually for imported oil. In addition, there is an opportunity to reduce the health costs of urban air pollution (as high as $100 billion annually) and the chance to eliminate 25 billion tons of CO2 emissions in the U.S. by 2050.
We must also not forget that advanced vehicle technology represents a potential trillion-dollar-a-year market worldwide.
Early introduction of hydrogen as an everyday fuel can be supported by the very hydrogen separation and CO2 sequestration technologies that are proposed to extend the use of fossil fuels without endangering the environment.
Livermore has established a leadership position in the DOE hydrogen program (currently $15 million a year) and provides key technical support to the U.S. Congress.
We reinvigorated electrolysis as an economic means of initial hydrogen production using the existing electrical infrastructure. Furthermore, our technology innovations provide the conceptual bases for a hydrogen-powered vehicle and for hydrogen production from municipal waste. We have also developed multilayer, thin-film technology for efficient solid-oxide, hydrogen fuel cells.
A significant increase in DOE funding for hydrogen power looks imminent. Congress recently requested more information on our technologies, implying a possible early demonstration effort. Additionally, DOE has given Livermore the lead role in developing technology demonstrations at the Nevada Test Site and selected DoD sites. We are also leading a collaborative effort in hydrogen transportation technology with Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories, Bechtel, and Texaco.

Issues
Three key issues that impact the development and implementation of hydrogen fuel technology are:

  • Development of a strong economic model for hydrogen-fueled transportation and a plan for transition from fossil- to hydrogen-powered systems and service infrastructure
  • Demonstration of key technological innovations
  • Increased funding for hydrogen research in the face of declining federal budgets

    Strategies
    Using economic analysis tools that incorporate environmental and national/international security considerations to motivate hydrogen fuel development, we will develop a comprehensive plan for the implementation of hydrogen-power transportation. At each stage of implementation, the plan will include technical options that are financially attractive enough to ensure significant market penetration.
    In particular, we will develop technologies for:

  • Practical, safe storage of hydrogen fuel on board a vehicle
  • Fuel cells manufactured from inexpensive materials (thin-film, solid-oxide, possibly with a reverse electrolyzer mode)
  • Auxiliary energy storage capabilities (flywheel and supercapacitors) We will also demonstrate a practical hydrogen production unit and refueling station for servicing prototype vehicles.

    Goals
    Our goals for this program are to:

  • Refine the technical foundation required to support increased hydrogen technology research (FY1997)
  • Develop alternatives for the transition from gasoline to hydrogen-electric propulsion and other hydrogen-based energy applications (FY1998)
  • Expand the capability to model projected international energy use and energy/environmental interactions, overlaying this model on the results of hydrogen technology introduction with initial results (FY1998) and a mature industry capability (FY2000)
  • Develop a solid-oxide fuel cell using in-house, thin-film, multi-layer technology, measuring performance parameters (FY1998) and conducting full-scale, single-cell demonstration (FY2000)
  • Develop and demonstrate hydrogen production and refueling by preparing prototype plant specifications (FY1998), completing construction (FY1999), and demonstrating the technology (FY2000)