Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Vehicle Projects

Contact: Lew Fulton, Director, Energy Futures, and Co-director, Sustainable Freight, ITS-Davis, lmfulton@ucdavis.edu


The University of California, Davis has been undertaking technical and modeling research on the subjects of hydrogen and fuel cell vehicles for over 20 years, including early studies by Dan Sperling and Mark Delucchi. Work increased considerably when Joan Ogden arrived and started the Hydrogen Pathways Program in 2003, a sponsor-funded consortium which engaged 6-8 lead Ph.D. researchers and 10-15 graduate students and Post-Docs from UCD. This eventually broadened to become the Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways (STEPS) program in 2007, but has always retained considerable focus on hydrogen and fuel cell vehicles over the course of this program up to the present day.

Most of the hydrogen research at UC Davis focuses on technical assessment and system-level modeling, though Davis has maintained a battery research lab over the past 2 decades, run by Dr. Andrew Burke. UC Davis operated one the earliest hydrogen refueling stations in California (2004-2009), supplying serving vehicles run on hydrogen and natural gas/hydrogen blends.

Joan Ogden standing outside a Honda ClaritySystems modeling projects have been led by Dr. Ogden through 2018, when she retired (though she stays involved in some research projects). Ogden’s group undertook studies of technology and cost assessment, system design, and transition costs, with major contributions by Dr. Chris Yang, Prof. Yueyue Fan, Dr. Andy Burke and a large cohort of graduate students and Post-Docs.  This work is notable for its innovation in considering how to grow the number of hydrogen fuel cell stations and where to place them, to optimize their value to FCEV drivers.  She has also done seminal technoeconomic assessments on low carbon hydrogen production (renewables and fossil with CCS), pipelines, electrolyzers, “tri-gen” systems, natural gas/hydrogen blending, hydrogen storage options and hydrogen transition costs. Ogden served on a 2008 National Academies Committee assessing the “Hydrogen Economy” including  modeling contributions from Dr. Chris Yang and Dr. Marc Melaina. Ogden also served on the USDOE Hydrogen Technical Advisory Committee (2009-2017).

Current Hydrogen/Fuel Cell Projects 

UC Davis is currently undertaking a range of research on hydrogen systems under the umbrella of the “California Hydrogen Systems Analysis” Study, led by Lew Fulton.  This study includes:

STIEVE Modeling

STIEVE modeling of fuel cell vehicles in California, developed by UCD researchers. This model has been developed by UC Davis researchers (led by Alan Jenn and Tri-Dev Acharya) over the past 2 years, It provides a detailed spatial representation of fuel cell light-duty and medium/heavy-duty vehicles around California, their potential growth (with scenarios through 2050), travel patterns, refueling requirements, and need for refueling stations.  The model then provides an optimized growth projection for the numbers, sizes, and locations of stations for cars. The model is currently used to provide spatialized hydrogen demands to 2030 and beyond for different scenarios, fed into our hydrogen systems models.

SERA Modeling

The SERA model, being developed under license from, and in cooperation with NREL is a hydrogen supply chain model that can be used to spatially estimate the optimal siting of hydrogen production (of any kind) relative to the locations and quantities of demands it faces. It provides a scale up analysis of all needed infrastructure (production/ storage/transportation to final end users or fuel stations).  UC Davis has been integral in operationalizing “SERA 2.0” and is now using this version to create scenarios of hydrogen production/distribution to refueling stations, with demand profiles provided by our STIEVE model.

GOOD Modeling

Led by Alan Jenn, the development of the GOOD electricity model has now incorporated a strong representation of the Western US electric system (WECC) and the possibility of using hydrogen as a storage medium during the year, considering demand profiles at 10 minute intervals, projected to 2050.  Very high renewable scenarios have been developed in the context of meeting future electricity and possible end-use hydrogen demands, along with using hydrogen within the system.

During 2021 and 2022, the three models have been configured to be run in tandem for similar scenarios, to investigate the nature of a fairly rapid increase in hydrogen demand in California for stations, supply needs, electric sector impacts, and hydrogen transportation/storage infrastructure. Results from these modeling efforts were released publicly in May 2022.

UC Davis H2 Study final report: California Hydrogen Analysis Project: The Future Role of Hydrogen in a Carbon-Neutral California

Other related efforts include detailed assessments of light-duty and medium/heavy duty fuel cell vehicles and hydrogen station operations, led by Andrew Burke, and potential hydrogen demands from industry and other stationary sources being led by Kelly Kissock.

Latest Research Reports

Hydrogen Storage and Transport: Technologies and Costs (Burke, Andrew, Joan M. Ogden, Lewis Fulton, Simonas Cerniauskas)

The Role of Clean Fuel Systems in a California Hydrogen Transition: A Comparison of Hydrogen, Synthetic Natural Gas, and Related Fuels

Transportation and Climate Blog: Supporting California’s Move to Zero-Emission Vehicles by Creating a Viable, Large-Scale Fuel-Cell Vehicle and Hydrogen System

UC Davis H2 Study final report, California Hydrogen Analysis Project: The Future Role of Hydrogen in a Carbon-Neutral California

Tech Brief: Pipelines for a Hydrogen System in California (Cerniauskas, SimonasLewis FultonJoan M. Ogden)

Policy Brief: Potential Uses of Hydrogen in California’s Clean Energy Transition (Lewis Fulton)

Policy Brief: Hydrogen Can Have a Much Lower Carbon Intensity than Fossil Fuels But This Largely Depends on How It Is Produced and Distributed (Timothy Lipman, Arpad Horvath, and Stephanie Collins – UC Berkeley; and Allisa Kendall, Lewis Fulton, Pablo Busch – UC Davis)

Creating a Global Hydrogen Economy: Review of International Strategies, Targets, and Policies with a Focus on Japan, Germany, South Korea, and California (Vishnu Vijayakumar, Lewis Fulton, Mahdi Shams, and Daniel Sperling)

Use Of Liquid Hydrogen in Heavy-Duty Vehicle Applications: Station And Vehicle Technology and Cost Considerations (Andrew Burke and Lew Fulton)

Low Carbon Scenario Analysis of a Hydrogen-Based Energy Transition for On-Road Transportation in California (Vishnu Vijayakumar, Alan Jenn, Lewis Fulton)

Webinars and Workshops

Sep 22, 2022: UC ITS webinar: California’s Hydrogen Strategy – Where Do We Go From Here? | Webinar recording

UC Davis California Hydrogen Analysis Project Tri-part Webinar Series, hosted by UC Merced – LDES group

May 25, 2022: CCST webinar: Decarbonizing with Hydrogen: Challenges and Opportunities | Webinar recording

Associated Partnerships

Webpage: Alliance for Renewable Clean Hydrogen Energy Systems (ARCHES)

Sample of Past Projects

Topic/associated publications (starred publications are CA focused)

Design of Hydrogen Station Networks: How Many Stations are Needed? Where should they be sited?

David L. Greene, Joan M. Ogden, Zhenhong Lin, 2020. “Challenges in the designing, planning and deployment of hydrogen refueling infrastructure for fuel cell electric vehicles,” eTransportation, Volume 6, November 2020, 100086. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.etran.2020.100086

*Joan Ogden and Michael Nicholas, “Analysis of a “Cluster” Strategy for Introducing Hydrogen Vehicles in Southern California”, Energy Policy, 39 (2011) 1923–1938. 

Design of Hydrogen Supply Chain Infrastructure

Xuping Li, Joan Ogden, and Christopher Yang, “Commercial Building Tri-generation Systems for Refueling Hydrogen Vehicles, Providing Local Grid Support, and Enhancing Sustainability,”  Transportation Research Record , 2013 TRB meeting,  Jan 2013.

Johnson N, Ogden J. A spatially-explicit optimization model for long-term hydrogen pipeline planning. Int J Hydrogen Energy 2012;37:5421e33.

Yang, C., and Ogden, J. (2007). “Determining the lowest-cost hydrogen delivery mode.” International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 32(2), 268-286.

Ogden and C. Yang, “Build-up of a hydrogen infrastructure in the US,” Chapter 15, in The Hydrogen Economy: Opportunities and Challenges, edited by Dr Michael Ball and Dr Martin Wietschel, Cambridge University Press, 2009, pp.454-482.

Hydrogen Transitions

Ogden, J. M. (2018) Prospects for Hydrogen in the Future Energy System. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-18-07. https://its.ucdavis.edu/research/publications/

Ogden, Joan M., Amy Myers Jaffe, Daniel Scheitrum, Zane McDonald, Marshall Miller (2018) Natural Gas as a Bridge to Hydrogen Transportation Fuel: Insights from the Literature . Energy Policy 115, 317 – 329.

* Christopher Yang and Joan Ogden, “Renewable and Low Carbon Hydrogen for California – Modeling The Long Term Evolution of Fuel Infrastructure Using a Quasi-Spatial TIMES Model,”International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, volume 38, issue 11, year 2013, pp. 4250 – 4265

Environmental and Resource Aspects of Hydrogen Energy

*Guihua Wang, Joan Ogden and Dan Sperling, “Comparing air quality impacts of hydrogen and gasoline” Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment, Volume 13, Issue 7, October 2008, Pages 436-448

*D. McCollum, C. Yang, S. Yeh, J. Ogden, Deep greenhouse gas reduction scenarios for California – Strategic implications from the CA-TIMES energy-economic systems model. Energy Strategy Reviews 1, 19 (2012). 

*Kumar, A., Zapata, C., Yeh, S., Yang, C., Ogden, J., & Lee, H.‐H., et al. [2020]. Effects of low‐carbon energy adoption on airborne particulate matter concentrations with feedbacks to future climate over California. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 125, e2020JD032636. https://doi.org/10.1029/2020JD032636

Hydrogen Vehicle Technical and Cost Modeling

* Burke, A. and M. Miller (2020) Zero-Emission Medium- and Heavy-duty Truck Technology, Markets, and Policy Assessments for California. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-20-07

Burke, Andrew and Anish Kumar Sinha (2020) Technology, Sustainability, and Marketing of Battery Electric and Hydrogen Fuel Cell Medium-Duty and Heavy-Duty Trucks and Buses in 2020-2040. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-20-26

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