The Palm Desert Fuel Cell Vehicle Project

For the past three years, the Schatz Energy Research Center (SERC) has been involved in the development and production of proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells. During this time, we have: 1) built a fuel cell laboratory and production facility, 2) designed, constructed, and installed a 1.5 kW PEM fuel cell for use as a stand-by power source at the Schatz Solar Hydrogen Project, and 3) conducted research to improve power density and lower manufacturing costs of fuel cells. SERC has now turned its focus to the Palm Desert Fuel Cell Vehicle Project. The goal of this project is to develop a clean and sustainable transportation system for a community. The project involves a consortium which includes the City of Palm Desert, DuPont, SERC, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). The goal will be accomplished by: • Designing, building, and operating a fleet of personal utility vehicles (PUV's) and neighborhood electric vehicles (NEV's) powered by hydrogen fueled PEM fuel cells. Various modes of on-board storage of hydrogen will be investigated in a companion project undertaken by Sandia National Laboratory (SNL). • Designing, building, and operating a refueling infrastructure relevant to future hydrogen based transportation systems. This will include two hydrogen refueling stations. One station will be wind powered; the second will be solar powered. • Conducting research into the details of PEM fuel cell production, with particular emphasis on developing materials and manufacturing techniques which will lower costs. • Designing and constructing a PEM fuel cell service and diagnostic center. The center will be located in a refurbished building in the City of Palm Desert corporation yard and service personnel will be trained through this project. The center will serve as an incubator to attract fuel cell manufacturing industry to the City. Major funding sources for the $4.1M project are expected to include the U.S. Department of Energy and the South Coast Air Quality Management District. The City of Palm Desert and SERC, as well as industrial partners DuPont, Teledyne Brown Engineering, ASE Americas, and Wintec, will provide matching funds and/or in-kind donations.