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DOE to award up to $9M for demonstration and deployment of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies; medium-duty eTrucks

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award up to $9 million in new funding (DE-FOA-0000828) to accelerate the development of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies in four topic areas: fuel-cell hybrid medium-duty trucks; advanced hydrogen refueling components; backup power systems; and hydrogen meters. (Earlier post.)

DOE is accepting new applications for projects proposing to demonstrate and deploy hydrogen and fuel cell technologies in the first three topics, and for research and development in Topic 4. For the first three topics, the primary objective of each proposed project must be to demonstrate and deploy hydrogen and fuel cell technologies in real-world environments. R&D will not be funded through this announcement. DOE select up to eight projects from industry, academia, and national labs.

Fuel Cell Hybrid Medium-Duty Trucks. Topic 1 is intended to accelerate the development and deployment of on-board fuel cell hybrid powered Class 3-6 medium-duty electric trucks (MD eTrucks) to increase substantially the zero emission driving range, thereby reducing petroleum consumption and related emissions, and increasing the viability of these electric drive vehicles.

DOE is accepting new applications for projects to demonstrate and deploy fuel cell hybrid MD eTrucks at freight distribution centers, cargo distribution centers, or parcel/package distribution center sites. The specific MD eTruck vehicles of interest are commercial vehicles that deliver cargo, parcels, or packaged freight on daily routes and return to their distribution centers at the end of their daily shift operations.

The applicant team needs to include, at a minimum, expertise in hydrogen fuel cell systems, electric powertrain development and vehicle systems and controls integration, battery hybridization, and hydrogen fuel dispensing. DOE prefers that an MD truck or eTruck original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and a cargo, package or parcel delivery company be part of the proposed team. It is mandatory that the host site for the deployment be located in the US.

Applications should focus on system cost and performance status and projections rather than proprietary component information. DOE will give preference to to applications that provide the greatest number of units for the lowest overall project cost while demonstrating market viability.

Applicants need to describe at a minimum: a complete hybrid battery-fuel cell power system and electric drivetrain designed for powering fuel cell hybrid MD eTrucks; MD eTruck retrofit specifications (as applicable); on-board hydrogen fuel storage and off-board dispensing system, including installation and maintenance activities needed for accomplishing the proposed project; hydrogen fill and safety requirements for the specified operations (system shall be capable of safely storing and dispensing fuel into the proposed hybrid vehicles); weather shelter for dispensing operations; a plan for obtaining all necessary government approvals and permits for all aspects of the dispensing system; the data collection plan for the deployed vehicle(s) and supporting fueling equipment; and an assessment of the economic/market opportunity of fuel cell hybrid MD eTrucks.

Expected outcomes are:

  • 20 to 40 fuel cell power systems (10 to 30 kW) delivered and installed on commercially available MD eTrucks, and operated at the host site, i.e., cargo, package or parcel delivery distribution center site(s) for a minimum of 5,000 hours per vehicle.

  • Submission of fuel cell hybrid MD eTruck performance data, as well as any safety data and issues identified during the operation of the units. Data are required to be submitted quarterly to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) for analysis and aggregation into composite data products.

  • An economic assessment, including a payback analysis, concerning the use of hydrogen-fueled PEM fuel cells for fuel cell hybrid MD eTrucks used as commercial cargo, parcel or package delivery vehicles. Intrinsic value proposition factors should be included, such as any operations productivity gains (e.g. avoided recharging times, delivery improvements, reduced driver down time for charging or scheduled maintenance, emissions reductions and other benefits).

DOE is anticipating two phases—Demonstration and Deployment—for each project. Within the Deployment Phase, applicants need to deploy and to operate in the field a minimum of 20 fuel cell hybrid MD eTrucks at a cargo, parcel or package distribution center located in the US for a minimum of 5,000 hours per vehicle. Longer operation and data collection periods may be included in the proposed project if the recipient chooses to continue to operate the vehicles beyond the requisite 5,000 hours.

Funding for any award resulting from this FOA will be for technologies at Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) 7-9 only.

Validation of Advanced Hydrogen Refueling Components. Projects in this topic area will demonstrate and validate the durability and robustness of hydrogen refueling components in real-world operating environments.

Examples of hydrogen refueling components include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Compression: Current hydrogen compression technologies meet most of the performance metrics, but are lacking significantly in reliability. For this reason, there is significant opportunity to reduce the cost associated with redundancy required at commercial refueling sites, where the compressor is critical for the operation.

  • Tube trailers: Another approach to reduce the cost of hydrogen is to increase the pressure capability of tube trailers used to deliver hydrogen (greater than 7,600 psi), reducing the need for compression at the refueling site and increasing the capacity of the hydrogen deliveries.

  • Advanced on-site hydrogen production: Advanced high-pressure electrolyzers can reduce the amount of post-production compression required. Co-producing electricity with hydrogen can provide additional revenue for station operators by offsetting electrical costs and adding additional revenue.

  • Alternative refueling protocols: Testing the performance and durability of refueling station and vehicle components (e.g. tanks) while using alternative fueling protocols (e.g. Mass Capacitance method) can potentially improve refueling rates, reduce the energy cost and equipment costs associated with refueling.

  • Nozzles: Current dispensing nozzles and IR transmitters/receivers are prone to failure as a result of harsh handling (dropping). Ruggedized dispenser nozzles and/or balance cords will reduce station down-time, which will improve customers’ experiences and station economics.

Forecourt stations or dispensing sites selected for integration of a refueling component technology must provide both 350 and 700 bar dispensing pressures, minimum peak fueling capacity of 20 kg/hour, and minimum 6-10 hours of daily operation while meeting Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) standards J2799, J2601, J2719 and J2600 (operating modes may be switched to test advanced refueling protocols with designated vehicles). While preference will be given to applications with a refueling capacity of at least 100 kg/day, applications that involve refueling stations with a capacity less than 100 kg/day may be considered.

Rooftop Installations of Hydrogen Fuel Cell Backup Power Systems. Topic 3 is focused on the development of a case study for roof-top installations of fuel cell powered back-up power systems that refuel from the ground. The process of obtaining access to the building, interacting with code officials, obtaining required permits, design considerations, and operation and maintenance will be documented as a case study for informing future siting of backup power systems.

Hydrogen Meter R&D: Projects under this topic area will support the development of highly accurate meters used to measure the mass of dispensed hydrogen fuel.

The R&D will address improvements required for meters to enable commercial dispensing devices to meet the measurement requirements defined in NIST Handbook 44, while performing under fueling conditions defined in SAE J2601 TIR. The work will advance the state of hydrogen meter technology toward enabling commercial dispensing devices that achieve an accuracy of at least 1.5% relative while performing under fueling conditions, which include measurements taken over a range of fueling flow rates at the nozzle (up to 60 g H2/s, up to 3.6 kg/min) and a range of hydrogen pressures (up to at least 87.5 MPa) and temperatures (-40 °C to 85 °C).


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