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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Plug-in Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles: A Vehicle and Infrastructure Analysis and Comparison with Alternative Vehicle Types

  • Author(s): Lane, Blake
  • Advisor(s): Samuelsen, Scott
  • et al.

Plug-in fuel cell electric vehicles (PFCEVs) combine features of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). With a 40-mile battery electric range (BER), the PFCEV provides unusually efficient driving. The BER also affords convenient recharging. The fuel cell and hydrogen fuel facilitate long range and quick refueling, removing range anxiety. With a small battery and fuel cell, the PFCEV maintains weight low and efficiency high. This thesis uses California as a case study of PFCEV deployment, due to regulations that make it the first deployment area of alternative vehicle technology, using vehicle and electric grid simulation tools, travel survey and census data, and geographic information system (GIS) software. If all passenger vehicles in California today were PFCEVs, the hydrogen required would be significantly less than current hydrogen production for petroleum refining in California, and the electricity used would be 19% of California’s current total demand. The BER capability leads to far fewer hydrogen fueling stations needed to fuel PFCEVs compared to non-plug-in FCEVs: 93 hydrogen stations are required compared to 1,651. PFCEVs also lead to the most GHG and CAP emissions reductions of any advanced alternative vehicle. Furthermore, this is done at the lowest cost per emissions reduced. PFCEVs are an attractive candidate as the principal vehicle owned by the majority of the motoring public in the electric vehicle era.

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