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

Fuel Cell Technologies Office – Hydrogen Storage

Hydrogen Storage Challenges

For transportation, the overarching technical challenge for hydrogen storage is how to store the amount of hydrogen required for a conventional driving range (>300 miles) within the vehicular constraints of weight, volume, efficiency, safety, and cost. Durability over the performance lifetime of these systems must also be verified and validated, and acceptable refueling times must be achieved. Requirements for off-board bulk storage are generally less restrictive than on-board requirements; for example, there may be no or less-restrictive weight requirements, but there may be volume or "footprint" requirements. The key challenges include:

  • Weight and Volume. The weight and volume of hydrogen storage systems are presently too high, resulting in inadequate vehicle range compared to conventional petroleum fueled vehicles. Materials and components are needed that allow compact, lightweight, hydrogen storage systems while enabling mile range greater than 300 miles in all light-duty vehicle platforms.
  • Efficiency. Energy efficiency is a challenge for all hydrogen storage approaches. The energy required to get hydrogen in and out is an issue for reversible solid-state materials. Life-cycle energy efficiency is a challenge for chemical hydride storage in which the byproduct is regenerated off-board. In addition, the energy associated with compression and liquefaction must be considered for compressed and liquid hydrogen technologies.
  • Durability. Durability of hydrogen storage systems is inadequate. Materials and components are needed that allow hydrogen storage systems with a lifetime of 1500 cycles.
  • Refueling Time. Refueling times are too long. There is a need to develop hydrogen storage systems with refueling times of less than three minutes over the lifetime of the system.
  • Cost. The cost of on-board hydrogen storage systems is too high, particularly in comparison with conventional storage systems for petroleum fuels. Low-cost materials and components for hydrogen storage systems are needed, as well as low-cost, high-volume manufacturing methods.
  • Codes and Standards. Applicable codes and standards for hydrogen storage systems and interface technologies, which will facilitate implementation/commercialization and ensure safety and public acceptance, have not been established. Standardized hardware and operating procedures, and applicable codes and standards, are required.
  • Life-Cycle and Efficiency Analyses. There is a lack of analyses of the full life-cycle cost and efficiency for hydrogen storage systems.

A detailed list of the barriers to hydrogen storage and the technical targets to meet these challenges and guide the development of hydrogen storage technologies are presented in the Hydrogen Storage Section of the Program's Multi-Year Research, Development, and Demonstration Plan.