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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Integrated Hydrogen and Intelligent Transportation Systems Evaluation for the California Department of Transportation


This "Integrated Hydrogen/Intelligent Transportation Systems Evaluation for the California Department of Transportation" project was conceived to investigate hydrogen activities in the State and around the U.S. that might impact the California Department of Transportation's (Caltrans) operations. The project is intended to review these activities and to suggest potential interesting applications of combined hydrogen and intelligent transportation system (ITS) technologies. This project was conducted by researchers at the University of California - Berkeley under California Partners for Advanced Transportation and Highways (PATH) Task Order 5112.

The main theme underlying this study is the potential for synergies between two rapidly evolving areas of advanced transportation and energy technology: hydrogen energy systems and ITS. We hypothesize that concepts and schemes that combine these two types of technologies can help to enable the potential use of hydrogen infrastructure by, first and foremost, allowing communication and mapping/navigation technologies to optimize the access to and operation of initially sparse hydrogen refueling networks. Additional benefits include helping to contend with the potentially limited driving range of initial hydrogen-powered vehicles and exposing consumers to new technologies in ways that do not require purchasing them, such as through fleet/motor pool, transit, and carsharing (i.e., short-term vehicle rentals) organization operations.

This hydrogen and ITS systems evaluation has three primary goals:

* 1) A review of activities in California and in other U.S. states and by the Federal Department of Transportation (DOT) to investigate and demonstrate the use of hydrogen as a transportation fuel; * 2) A summary of additional concepts that link ITS and/or distributed power generation with transportation systems and that may also link themselves to further integration and enhancement with information technologies; and * 3) An initial examination of potential hydrogen-fueled vehicle and ITS integrated demonstration/pilot projects.

Based on this initial investigation, we conclude that:

* 1) Several states are competing with California to develop hydrogen plans and to attract the emerging hydrogen and fuel cell industry to their states, including most notably New York and Florida; * 2) DOTs in these states have for the most part been interested observers to this point but are beginning to be drawn into hydrogen activities in these states, and in some cases have been clearly identified as expected project partners; * 3) The U.S. DOT is conducting activities at a relatively modest but significant level, particularly with respect to codes and standards development and hydrogen transit buses; * 4) Hydrogen activities will be continued for FY 2005/2006 at the U.S. DOT under the newly-created Research and Innovation Technology Administration (RITA), taking over from the former Research and Special Projects Administration (RSPA) in most respects; * 5) The California Hydrogen Blueprint Plan contains several references to Caltrans as a potential key partner in hydrogen projects, particularly related to partnering on hydrogen station siting and incorporating hydrogen-powered vehicles in its fleets; * 6) Many different ITS technologies are applicable to the potential introduction of new alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) types, particularly with regard to the challenges of developing new vehicle refueling networks for hydrogen-powered vehicles and to help enable potential vehicle to grid (V2G) power schemes; and * 7) Emerging technologies and concepts for the distributed generation of electrical power have potential technological and economic interactions with hydrogen vehicle and refueling systems and ITS.

Finally, we recommend a list of potential concepts to be considered for a field operational test (FOT) along the lines of the technology sets and interactions that we have explored in this study. Of the options, we believe that a "smart hydrogen refueling" FOT is the most attractive based on timing, technology availability, and potential interest for Caltrans, as well as significant national and global interest.

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