U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Fuel Cell Technologies Office

U.S. Department of Energy Decides to Discontinue On-Board Fuel Processor R&D for Fuel Cell Vehicles

August 6, 2004

Over the past ten years, DOE has funded R&D for on-board fuel processing as one option to bridge the transition to a hydrogen economy. Since the President's Hydrogen Fuel Initiative accelerated the hydrogen technology readiness milestone from 2030 to 2015, the contribution that on-board fuel processing could make as a transitional technology was lessened. A go/no-go decision was set for June 2004 to decide whether to continue research for on-board fuel processing.

DOE conducted a review of on-board fuel processing activities and concluded that, based on the current state of the technology, it is unlikely that on-board fuel processing will improve sufficiently to support the transition to a hydrogen economy. The decision is based on several key conclusions:

  • Current fuel processing technologies do not meet the technical and economic targets
  • There is no clear path forward to meet the more difficult criteria necessary for full implementation/integration in fuel cell vehicles
  • There is no interest from the U.S. auto industry
  • Competing technologies are available today, and only marginal improvement is expected in efficiency and emissions between a gasoline, hybrid-electric vehicle and a fuel cell vehicle operating on gasoline that is reformed on-board the vehicle

A detailed explanation of the decision and the process by which the decision was made are included in the DOE Decision Team Committee Report, On-Board Fuel Processing Go/No-Go Decision (PDF 275 KB). Download Adobe Reader.

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