U.S. DOE Announces $15.8 Million Investment for Innovation in Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies

fuel cells
Image credit: U. S. DOE

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced approximately $15.8 million for 30 new projects aimed at discovery and development of novel, low-cost materials necessary for hydrogen production and storage and for fuel cells onboard light-duty vehicles.  Selected projects will leverage national lab consortia launched under DOE’s Energy Materials Network (EMN) this past year, in support of DOE’s materials research and advanced manufacturing priorities.

Selections were made under the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) annual funding opportunity announcement (FOA) in 2017.  The 2017 FOA solicited early-stage materials research to advance the Department’s goals of enabling economic and efficient transportation via fuel cell electric vehicles that use hydrogen fuel produced from diverse domestic resources.

More than 2,000 fuel cell vehicles have been sold or leased in the U.S. since 2015.  These consume 95% less petroleum per mile than conventional internal combustion engine vehicles, have no tailpipe emissions, and offer quiet operation.

The selected EMN consortia projects will leverage unique, world-class capabilities at the national laboratories, facilitating collaborations that will expedite the development of advanced materials.

Selected projects will cover the following topics:

  • Topic 1: PGM-free Catalyst and Electrode R&D—4 projects will leverage the Electrocatalysis Consortium (ElectroCat) to accelerate the development of catalysts made without platinum group metals (PGM-free) for use in fuel cells for transportation.
  • Topic 2: Advanced Water Splitting Materials—19 projects will leverage the HydroGEN Consortium to accelerate the development of advanced water-splitting materials for hydrogen production, with an initial focus on advanced electrolytic, photoelectrochemical, and solar thermochemical pathways.
  • Topic 3: Hydrogen Storage Materials Discovery—4 projects will leverage the Hydrogen Materials—Advanced Research Consortium (HyMARC) to address unsolved scientific challenges in the development of viable solid-state materials for hydrogen storage onboard light-duty vehicles.
  • Topic 4: Precursor Development for Low-Cost, High-Strength Carbon Fiber—3 projects will reduce the cost of onboard hydrogen storage tanks necessary for fuel cell vehicles. These projects will pursue innovative approaches to developing novel precursors for high-strength carbon fiber at half the cost of current materials. Resources from LightMAT (a DOE Vehicle Technologies Office-managed EMN consortium), and IACMI (an institute for advanced composites research within the Manufacturing USA network managed by DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office), may also be leveraged by the awardees.

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