In his 2003 State of the Union address, President Bush announced a $1.2 billion Hydrogen Fuel Initiative to reduce America's growing dependence on foreign oil. If successful, the initiative could also reduce environmental pollutants and lessen the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. There has been a great deal of activity, not only in the U.S., but throughout the world. Consortia composed of policymakers, safety regulators and inspectors, engineers, scientists, universities, and private industry are focusing on long-term research to understand the implications of a hydrogen economy; and to develop technologies to produce, store, deliver, and use hydrogen safely and cost-effectively.

Hydrogen has been used and transported safely in this country for several decades, almost exclusively for industrial applications in the food, petrochemical, and semiconductor industries. However, using hydrogen as an energy carrier is a relatively new concept. Consequently, there is much to be learned and considered before hydrogen-fueled vehicles, and the supporting infrastructure, can be safely used by the public.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has three principal areas of authority with regard to hydrogen:

  1. Ensuring the safety of hydrogen as a fuel and commodity across all modes of transportation;
  2. Leading the research, development, demonstration, and deployment (RDD&D) of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles and their accompanying infrastructure, including buses, trucks, rail, marine, and aviation systems; and
  3. Guiding the RDD&D of a hydrogen infrastructure, including stationary power, and its integration into DOT-regulated systems.

In early 2003, DOT created a Hydrogen Working Group to coordinate the hydrogen and fuel cell RDD&D activities within the DOT operating administrations. The Working Group also facilitates coordination with other Federal agencies to guide the Department's regulatory policy, as well as vehicle and infrastructure design. The DOT Hydrogen Roadmap outlines each operating administration's responsibilities, the necessary intra- and inter-administration coordination, and DOT's relationship to the activities and responsibilities of other Federal agencies and those of industry.

There are four primary topics in this Roadmap:

Road 1: Safety Codes, Standards, and Regulations;
Road 2: Infrastructure Development and Deployment;
Road 3: Safety Education, Outreach and Training; and
Road 4: Medium- and Heavy-duty Vehicle Development, Demonstration, and Deployment.

Across the broad spectrum of hydrogen and fuel cell-related RDD&D there is a common core of needs and responsibilities shared among the DOT operating administrations, such that each agency has both unique and shared activities within each of the Roads.

The map for each Road includes four areas:

  • Anticipated long-term outcomes (11 to 20 years);
  • Challenges and requirements;
  • Pathways, projects, and products; and
  • Timelines.

Each Road includes a flowchart of the interrelation of DOT's major hydrogen activities. Where applicable, the charts also illustrate the pathways to convergence of DOT's RDD&D with the program goals and activities of other Federal agencies. These include the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the Department of Defense (DoD), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Commerce (DOC), and other agencies and industries engaged in the transition to a hydrogen economy.

The connectivity among Roads 1-4 is illustrated in the flow charts for each operating administration (Figures 6-13) located in the Summary section of this document.