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DOE Announces $30 Million Investment in Hydrogen and Fuel Cells as Industry Continues Unprecedented Growth Rates

In commemoration  of National Hydrogen Day, aptly chosen for the atomic weight of hydrogen (1.008), the Energy Department (DOE) released a new report today showing continued momentum and growth in the fuel cell industry. The 2015 Fuel Cell Technologies Market Report shows that hydrogen and fuel cells continue to grow at an unprecedented rate, with more than 60,000 fuel cells, totaling roughly 300 megawatts (MW), shipped worldwide in 2015. The number of MW shipped grew by more than 65% compared to 2014. 2015 also saw the world’s first fuel cell vehicles for sale. To further expand on this emerging market, the Department today announced a notice of intent to invest $30 million, subject to appropriations, to advance fuel cell and hydrogen technologies. These projects will leverage national lab consortia launched under DOE’s Energy Materials Network (EMN) this past year, and will support the President’s Materials Genome Initiative and advanced manufacturing priorities. 

“DOE-supported fuel cell and hydrogen research have helped reduce the cost of transportation fuel cells by 50% since 2007 by quadrupling durability, and reducing the amount of platinum by a factor of five,” said Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy David Friedman. “We are pleased to highlight the progress and significant potential of this emerging technology by recognizing National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day on October 8.”

Applicants to the Energy Department’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office’s fiscal year 2017 funding opportunity will collaborate with national lab consortia stemming from the EMN initiative. The EMN consortia have been launched to make unique, world-class capabilities at the national laboratories more accessible to industry and academia, facilitating collaborations that will expedite the development of advanced materials.  National lab consortia that will be leveraged include:

  • Electrocatalysis Consortium (ElectroCat)–this consortium will accelerate the development of catalysts made without platinum group metals (PGM-free) for use in transportation fuel cell applications.
  • HydroGEN Consortium (HydroGEN)–this consortium will accelerate the development of advanced water splitting materials for hydrogen production, with an initial focus on advanced electrolytic, photoelectrochemical, and solar thermochemical pathways..
  • Hydrogen Materials—Advanced Research Consortium (HyMARC)–this consortium aims to address unsolved scientific challenges in the development of viable solid-state materials for storage of hydrogen onboard vehicles.

Fiscal year 2017 funding will also be targeted at the development of low-cost, high-strength precursors for carbon fibers that can be used in vehicular hydrogen storage vessels.  Applicants for this topic will be encouraged to collaborate with LightMat, an EMN consortium launched by the DOE Vehicle Technologies Office to enable light-weighting of vehicles through the development of high-strength steels and carbon fiber. In addition to transportation applications, hydrogen has the potential to decarbonize multiple sectors by enabling renewable, energy storage, and low carbon industrial applications.

To further support hydrogen and fuel cell innovation, the DOE’s Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) is partnering with the Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) to develop training modules, including safety and outreach modules, as part of FEMP’s training program. This collaboration will continue to grow FEMP’s diverse offerings of training courses and build on FCTO’s existing outreach efforts to various stakeholders.  For example, more than 36,000 emergency responders and code officials have been reached through on-line and in-person trainings. This partnership will allow for broad dissemination of information and increased awareness of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.

All of this points to a hydrogen and fuel cell market that continues to grow rapidly. According to the DOE’s 2015 Fuel Cell Technologies Market Report, many U.S. state efforts during the year focused on encouraging the growth of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) on state roadways, particularly in California, where two commercial FCEVs are available to customers (Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell and Toyota Mirai), as well as the development of hydrogen fueling infrastructure. These efforts, in California, Hawaii, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York, include grant funding for station development and rebates for the purchase of FCEVs.

For details, see the notice of intent  for the funding opportunity announcement (FOA) that FCTO plans to issue later this fall. The FOA will be available for viewing at the EERE Exchange website. If applicants wish to receive official notifications and information from EERE regarding this FOA, interested parties should register in EERE Exchange.

Distribution channels: Energy