The Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners has approved a participant agreement with Mercedes-Benz USA, its parent-company DaimlerChrysler Corporation, and the U.S. Department of Energy.

The project will evaluate the use of a prototype zero-emission passenger vehicle that utilizes a hydrogen fuel cell drive system (F-cell vehicle).

The agreement calls for Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to participate in the “Controlled Hydrogen Fleet and Infrastructure Demonstration and Validation Project” awarded to DaimlerChrysler by the U.S. Department of Energy.

An important factor in the selection of LAX for the program is the existence of a hydrogen fueling station on airport property.

A 10,500-square-foot compressed hydrogen demonstration station was opened at LAX in October 2004 at a construction cost of nearly $2 million.

The demonstration station was awarded this year’s Airports Council International-North America Environmental Achievement Award in the large-airport category.

The demonstration and validation project includes reviewing the performance and reliability of a fuel cell vehicle in real-world conditions, and collecting data about hydrogen energy and possible expanded use of hydrogen for use in fuel cell vehicles.

The prototype hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle will be added to LAX’s alternative-fuel vehicle fleet comprised of 470 vehicles.