4.6 Review

New roads and challenges for fuel cells in heavy-duty transportation


Volume 6, Issue 5, Pages 462-474


DOI: 10.1038/s41560-021-00775-z




  1. Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office (HFTO)
  2. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
  3. US Department of Energy (DOE) through the Fuel Cell Performance and Durability (FC-PAD)
  4. Million Mile Fuel Cell Truck (M2FCT) consortia
  5. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory [DE-AC02-05CH11231]
  6. Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences, DOE Office of Science User Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory [DE-AC05-00OR22725]
  7. US DOE [DE-AC36-08GO28308]
  8. UChicago Argonne, LLC, Operator of Argonne National Laboratory, a US Department of Energy Office of Science [DE-AC02-06CH11357]
  9. Los Alamos National Laboratory [89233218CNA000001]
  10. National Renewable Energy Laboratory

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The recent release of hydrogen economy roadmaps highlights the need for increased global investment in hydrogen production, storage, infrastructure and utilization. The shift in focus towards heavy-duty vehicle applications for fuel cell technologies is discussed, along with the required improvements in fuel cell systems and materials to meet efficiency and durability requirements. The article also summarizes the latest market outlooks and targets for heavy-duty vehicle applications.
The recent release of hydrogen economy roadmaps for several major countries emphasizes the need for accelerated worldwide investment in research and development activities for hydrogen production, storage, infrastructure and utilization in transportation, industry and the electrical grid. Due to the high gravimetric energy density of hydrogen, the focus of technologies that utilize this fuel has recently shifted from light-duty automotive to heavy-duty vehicle applications. Decades of development of cost-effective and durable polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells must now be leveraged to meet the increased efficiency and durability requirements of the heavy-duty vehicle market. This Review summarizes the latest market outlooks and targets for truck, bus, locomotive and marine applications. Required changes to the fuel-cell system and operating conditions for meeting Class 8 long-haul truck targets are presented. The necessary improvements in fuel-cell materials and integration are also discussed against the benchmark of current passenger fuel-cell electric vehicles. Fuel cells are increasingly being considered for powertrains of heavy-duty transportation. Cullen et al. survey the technical challenges of fuel cells at both the system and materials level for transportation application and outline the roadmap for future development.


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