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DOE to award up to $2M to develop supply chain, manufacturing competitiveness analysis for hydrogen and fuel cell technologies

The Energy Department announced up to $2 million to develop the domestic supply chain for hydrogen and fuel cell technologies and to study the competitiveness of US hydrogen and fuel cell system and component manufacturing. (DE-FOA-0000854) (Earlier post.)

This funding will support projects that focus on scaling-up the production of today’s hydrogen and fuel cell components and systems to commercial scale. Currently, these components and systems are being built using laboratory-scale fabrication technologies, but developing a robust supply chain to support mass production of these systems can enable the market for these technologies to grow. There are two topics of interest: (1) Facilitate the Development and Expansion of a Robust Supply Chain for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Systems and Components; and (2) Analysis of US Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Manufacturing Global Competitiveness.

Supply chain. Applications in this topic area need to identify novel outreach approaches to expand the domestic supply chain with the ultimate goal of reducing the cost, increasing the reliability, and standardizing the parts and components that go into these systems. As one example DOE provided, small scale efforts have been pursued in the past to connect component suppliers with end manufacturers at Supply Chain Exchange Event type events.

Other examples that may be pursued under this topic area include a website dedicated to housing a database of potential hydrogen and fuel cell system part and component vendors and/or an effort to standardize (size, performance, connections, etc.) parts or components where necessary to realize the benefits of economies of scale.

DOE encourages applicants to “think outside the box” and propose novel ideas, which will facilitate the development of a robust, domestic supply chain. For the specific outreach activities proposed by the applicant, metrics should be provided that illustrate the potential impact on the robustness of the supply chain (economies of scale, etc.).

DOE cautioned that the topic is not intended to be a research and development project for a particular part or component; the area is focused on the entire supply chain as related to the hydrogen and fuel cell industry including, but not limited to: fuel cell components and systems (membranes, gas diffusion media, membrane electrode assemblies, bipolar plates, humidifiers, balance-of-plant components, etc.), electrolyzers, reformers, hydrogen storage systems (high pressure tanks, carbon fiber, valves, etc.), etc.

The outcome and deliverables from this topic area must address both: (1) Outreach activities that facilitate the development of a robust domestic hydrogen and fuel cell supply chain; and (2) Reports that identify supply chain gaps and strategies to overcome these gaps and reduce supply chain costs.

Global competitiveness. The second topic area has two main objectives: (1) Global Competitiveness Analysis of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies manufacturing; and (2) Analysis to assess the status of global hydrogen and fuel cell markets.

The large, comprehensive global manufacturing competitiveness analysis needs to focus on both polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cell systems (automotive and stationary) and high pressure (700 bar) hydrogen storage systems. (This topic does not address non-PEMFC technologies.) To provide results that can be used to compare across multiple technologies supported by DOE, the analysis for hydrogen and fuel cells should follow a similar format and generally adhere to the following goals:

  • Characterize the current industry structure both domestically and internationally to benchmark PEM fuel cell and hydrogen storage system markets;

  • Map the value stream from raw materials (or component parts where more relevant) to consumer products for both of these hydrogen and fuel cell related products;

  • Identify areas where the US has (or may have) viable manufacturing opportunities and identify potential vulnerabilities to US competitiveness;

  • Determine potential US “tipping points” where the US could lose or gain leadership within segments of the supply chain;

  • Identify particularly high value-added segments of the supply chain or particular part of the supply chain that dictates other upstream/downstream products; and

  • Determine which segments are particularly well-suited to US strengths (e.g., requiring a highly skilled, innovative workforce).

After consultation with DOE, the project team is then to do an analytical deep dive further to refine the original analysis and focus on key drivers such as countries with the current and/or projected largest market share relative to the US.

Based on findings from the analyses, an assessment of key drivers of US competitiveness in the hydrogen and fuel cell industry will be made. One of the ultimate goals is to provide information that allows DOE and other US companies to develop strategic plans on how and where future funding would best be invested.

In addition and in concert with the above, the project team will also provide a variety of manufacturing-related market analyses (Objective 2), especially related to global fuel cell industry trends, including the number of units and size (megawatts) of fuel cells shipped and binned by country and type of application.

DOE anticipates making approximately 3 to 4 awards under this FOA; individual awards may vary between $200,000 and $600,000.


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