Hydrogen Energy: Powering Vehicles from Thin Air

The Hydrogen Pathways Program was a four-year study (2003-2006) from the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS-Davis) that focused on understanding the potential transition to a hydrogen-based transportation system. Four key infrastructure areas were targeted: Markets and Demand; Infrastructure Modeling; Policy and Business Strategy; and Environmental Analysis.  The program instituted numerous research projects and has become a major contributor to industry, government, and public understanding of hydrogen as a potential transportation fuel.  Their research papers and presentations can be found at http://hydrogen.its.ucdavis.edu/publications


ITS-Davis continues research conducted under the Hydrogen Pathways Program through the Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways (STEPS) Program by exploring new areas such as hydrogen/electricity systems, conducting regional transition case studies, understanding the impact of alternative policies, and enhancing key hydrogen pathways models for infrastructure development strategies. Additional work will focus on the interaction between hydrogen and existing infrastructure, such as electricity and natural gas.


The STEPS researchers are developing new and innovative tools to better understand the technological, economic, social, and environmental characteristics of alternative energy systems including: integrated energy system modeling; Geographic Information System (GIS) analysis; qualitative market research techniques; and policy analysis. Their intent is to generate a strong understanding and solid foundation of knowledge for companies and government agencies analyzing technology, investment, and policy options.


Next Steps: The goals of the STEPS program are to inform the public debate and to assist their public and private sponsors by providing tools and knowledge concerning sustainable transportation alternatives. The program will carefully analyze potential transitions in the transportation sector by addressing markets and consumer behavior, engineering and economics of vehicles and fuel infrastructure systems, societal and lifecycle environmental impacts (climate change, air quality, energy security), and public policy.