The Benefits of Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles
Switching to vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells instead of fossil fuels should provide significant health and pollution benefits and may even be a cheaper fuel in the end than gasoline, according to new research published in the 24 June 2005 issue of the journal Science.
Mark Jacobson and colleagues modeled the effects of converting the entire U.S. fleet to hydrogen fuel cell or fossil fuel/electric hybrid vehicles, and they compared the benefits of producing hydrogen by steam reforming of natural gas, wind-electrolysis and coal gasification. Most of the benefits arose from eliminating current vehicle exhaust.
Fuel cell vehicles using hydrogen produced by wind and natural gas offer the greatest potential health benefits and could save 3700 to 6400 lives annually in the United States, the authors report. Converting to fuel cell vehicles using hydrogen produced by coal may improve health but would damage climate more than fossil-electric hybrids would. The authors also estimate that hydrogen produced from wind would ultimately cost between $1.12 and $3.20 per gallon in the United States, though these estimates do not include the infrastructure costs of converting to hydrogen.
24 June 2005