[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]
Cactus-inspired membranes with nanocrack coatings boost fuel cell performance significantly
April 29, 2016
Regulating water content in polymeric membranes is important in a number of applications—such as in the proton-exchange fuel-cell membranes used in automotive fuel cell stacks. Researchers from CSIRO in Australia and Hanyang University in Korea have now developed a new type of hydrocarbon polymer membrane that has the potential to deliver a significant boost in fuel cell performance.
Water content in the membranes is regulated through nanometer-scale cracks (nanocracks) in a hydrophobic surface coating. These cracks work as nanoscale valves to retard water desorption and to maintain ion conductivity in the membrane on dehumidification. In a paper published in the journal Nature, the researchers reported that hydrocarbon fuel-cell membranes with these surface nanocrack coatings operated at intermediate temperatures show improved electrochemical performance.
SAE technical experts: fuel cell technology has advanced significantly, FC vehicle production has begun, further cost reductions & infrastructure development required
April 27, 2016
Wrapping up the track on the commercialization of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and hydrogen infrastructure held at the 2016 SAE World Congress (earlier post), a panel of technical experts agreed that while significant progress has been made with the technology, and while the first generation of consumer-available fuel cell vehicles is now being sold in parts of the US, there are still challenges to overcome with respect to the cost of the technology and the build-out of a supporting hydrogen refueling infrastructure.
The panel, moderated by Jesse Schneider, BMW, included Takashi Moriya, Senior Chief Engineer at Honda R&D; Dr. Will James, Manager, Safety, Codes, and Standards at the US Department of Energy (DOE); and Dr. Ralph Clague, Head of Motive Systems and Architecture, Intelligent Energy.
Tsinghua team evaluates impact of types and arrangements of electric traction motors in fuel cell hybrid buses
April 20, 2016
Researchers at Tsinghua University have compared the performance of two different powertrains for fuel cell hybrid buses. Both buses use 50 kW PEM fuel cell stacks (from different manufacturers) as the primary power source, with LiMn2O4 battery packs as secondary power sources. A significant difference between the two powertrains lies in the types and arrangements of the electrical motor.
One powertrain employs a single induction motor (IM) to drive the vehicle via a reduction gearbox and differential (Powertrain A), while the other powertrain adopts two permanent magnetic synchronous motors (PMSMs) for near-wheel propulsion (Powertrain B). A further difference between the proposed powertrains is the supply path for the fuel cell accessories. A paper on their study is published in Journal of Power Sources.
New Flyer introduces first 60-foot hydrogen fuel cell bus in North America
New Flyer of America, a subsidiary of New Flyer Industries Inc., the leading manufacturer of heavy-duty transit buses and motor coaches in the United States and Canada, conducted the inaugural road demonstration of the Xcelsior XHE60 heavy-duty articulated fuel cell transit bus. Representatives from two major transit Authorities—Alameda County Transit (AC Transit) of California, and Metro Transit of Minneapolis, Minnesota—participated in the vehicle’s debut and demonstration.
Based on its Buy America compliant and proven Xcelsior X60 heavy-duty transit bus platform, New Flyer partnered with Ballard Power Systems Inc. and Siemens to develop the propulsion system. The bus will be operated in revenue service by AC Transit for 22 months following the completion of a comprehensive evaluation at the FTA’s Altoona test facility.
FTA selects 7 projects to receive $22.5M in grants for battery-electric and fuel cell buses, infrastructure
The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced the latest project selections for the Low and No-Emission Vehicle Deployment Program, known as Low-No. Seven transit providers in five states will receive a share of $22.5 million toward transit buses and related facilities that utilize battery-electric, fuel cell, and other innovative technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve operating efficiency.
FTA awarded the FY 2015 funds after a competitive review process that prioritized transit agencies and bus manufacturers with strong records in building, deploying, and operating clean buses and infrastructure. The projects selected in this round of Low-No funding are:
ARB Chair Mary Nichols, CA officials leading hydrogen fuel cell vehicle rally from LA to Sacramento
California Air Resources Board (ARB) Chair Mary Nichols today is leading a rally of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles with Energy Commissioner Janea Scott and Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) Deputy Director Tyson Eckerle on a 400-mile journey from Los Angeles to ARB headquarters in Sacramento in celebration of Earth Day.
The rally is intended to highlight that these hydrogen-fueled electric vehicles are now available for sale or lease, and there is a rapidly growing statewide network of hydrogen filling stations to support them.
Toyota details design of fuel cell system in Mirai; work on electrode catalysts
April 19, 2016
While other major automakers have either introduced (Hyundai, Honda) or are in serious development of new hydrogen fuel cell vehicles for the market, Toyota continues to take the point in not just promoting, but also supporting the broader technical (and infrastructure) development required for a large-scale realization of hydrogen-based electromobility.
At the 2015 CES, Toyota announced royalty-free use of approximately 5,680 fuel-cell-related patents held globally, including critical technologies developed for the Mirai fuel cell vehicle. (Earlier post.) At the SAE 2015 World Congress, Toyota presented a set of four technical papers detailing some of the technology innovations used in Mirai fuel cell stack. (Earlier post.) And again at this year’s 2016 SAE World Congress, Toyota presented three more papers: one detailing the development of Mirai’s Toyota Fuel Cell System (TCFS) and two dealing with the critical issues of the fuel cell catalysts.
Applications open for the fifth Volkswagen and BASF “Science Award Electrochemistry”; new special award for applied research
The BASF and Volkswagen international “Science Award Electrochemistry” is now in its fifth year (earlier post) and has opened the application period for this year’s award. Applications are due by 12 August 2016. Contributions submitted will be assessed by a jury comprising experts from BASF, Volkswagen and representatives from the scientific community. The award ceremony takes place in Berlin on 21 November 2016.
The international “Science Award Electrochemistry” supports excellent scientific and engineering achievements and intends to provide fresh impetus to the development of high-efficiency energy storage devices. The science award has been held every year since 2012 and is intended for scientists working in academic research all over the world. The prize money totals €100,000 and first place receives €50,000.
Japan updates hydrogen fuel cell targets; 320 stations by 2025, 800,000 vehicles by 2030
April 15, 2016
Japan’s Council for a Strategy for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells, which includes experts from industry, academia, and government, recently issued a revised version of the Strategic Roadmap for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells.
Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) established the Council in December 2013; the Strategic Road Map was first published in June 2014. With the increased dissemination of fuel cells for households, the launch of fuel cell vehicles onto the market, and steady progress in the construction of hydrogen stations, the Council has revised the plan, setting new targets. For vehicles, these targets are:
California Energy Commission releases $17.3M funding opportunity for H2 stations
April 08, 2016
The California Energy Commission has released a $17.3-million solicitation (GFO-15-605) for publicly accessible hydrogen refueling stations that serve California’s light duty fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs).
The Energy Commission will make available two categories of Capital Expense (Cap-X) funding. Operation and Maintenance (O&M) funding is also available for stations whose capital expenses are funded under this solicitation. This solicitation places a preference on hydrogen refueling stations that fill hydrogen refueling station coverage gaps and hydrogen refueling capacity gaps in California.
Hyundai Motor powers world’s first hydrogen fuel cell vehicle car-sharing service
April 07, 2016
Zero-emission car sharing service BeeZero, run by a newly founded subsidiary of The Linde Group, will feature 50 Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell electric vehicles for public use. BeeZero, which will launch in Munich this summer, will be the first car sharing service using hydrogen fuel cell cars.
The BeeZero car sharing service will be run on a zone-based model. The fleet of fifty ix35 Fuel Cell cars will be available in Munich’s city centre and also in the areas of Schwabing, Haidhausen, Au and Glockenbachviertel. As with conventional car sharing services, the cars can be easily booked online or via a smartphone app.
Lawrence Livermore team shows carbon nanotube porins are fastest known proton conductors; potential application for PEM fuel cells
April 05, 2016
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers have shown that 0.8-nm-diameter carbon nanotube porins, which promote the formation of one-dimensional water wires, can support proton transport rates exceeding those of bulk water by an order of magnitude.
The transport rates in these nanotube pores also exceed those of biological channels and Nafion—one of the most common and commercially available membranes for proton exchange membrane (PEM fuel cells). Carbon nanotubes are the fastest known proton conductor. The research appears in the journal Nature Nanotechnology. Practical applications include proton exchange membranes (PEMs); proton-based signaling in biological systems; and the emerging field of proton bioelectronics (protonics).
Uno-X Hydrogen to build 1st hydrogen refueling station w/ hydrogen produced by surplus renewable energy from neighboring building
April 04, 2016
Uno-X Hydrogen AS, a NEL ASA (NEL) joint venture, will build a hydrogen refueling station (HRS) with on-site hydrogen production co-located with Powerhouse Kjørbo, an energy-positive office building in Sandvika, Norway.
Powerhouse Kjørbo, which is owned by Entra ASA, uses solar panels that can supply upward of 200,000 kWh each year, twice the amount of the building’s annual energy consumption. Excess electricity from solar will be used to produce the hydrogen on-site.
Successful performance test of natural Albany graphite versus synthetic graphite in a Ballard fuel cell stack; potential cost reduction
March 30, 2016
Zenyatta Ventures Ltd. and Ballard Power Systems announced the successful performance testing of high-purity Albany graphite in components of a Ballard fuel cell stack. This Phase 4 testing program was designed to show viability of Zenyatta’s Albany graphite compared to synthetic graphite under realistic fuel cell operating conditions.
The membrane electrode assembly (MEA), which includes the gas diffusion layer (GDL), is a critical component of a PEM fuel cell that must meet exacting performance standards for the fuel cell to be robust and reliable. Ballard prototyped GDLs from Zenyatta graphite—which included an anode and cathode sub layer—and then incorporated it into a MEA that was tested in a fuel cell stack to characterize fuel cell performance.
JRC proposing new harmonized test protocols for PEM fuel cells in hydrogen vehicles
March 29, 2016
The European Commission’s Joint Research Center (JRC) is proposing a test methodology for polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells, including a set of representative operating conditions. The resulting harmonized test protocols allow the evaluation of the performance and durability of PEM fuel cells by focusing on the membrane-electrode assemblies (MEA), which constitute the heart of a fuel cell.
A lack of standards for testing PEM fuel cells has hampered objective comparative assessment of their performance and durability under operating conditions and hence of their technological progress, JRC said.
California ARB posts discussion document on $500M FY 2016-17 spend for low carbon transportation and fuels; $230M to fund CVRP
March 28, 2016
The California Air Resources Board (ARB) staff has posted a discussion document prior to a 4 April 2016 public workshop on the development of the FY 2016-17 Funding Plan for Low Carbon Transportation and Fuels Investments and AQIP.
The Governor’s proposed 2016-17 budget would appropriate to ARB $500 million in Cap-and-Trade auction proceeds for Low Carbon Transportation and Fuels investments—including $40 million for very low carbon fuel production incentives—and $28.6 million for Air Quality Improvement Program (AQIP) projects.
Kyushu University research group develops new method for creating highly efficient gold nanoparticle catalysts for fuel cells
March 15, 2016
A team of researchers at Kyushu University’s International Institute for Carbon-Neutral Energy Research (I2CNER) reports devising a method for using a new type of catalyst support for highly active gold nanoparticle catalysts for fuel cells. An open access paper on the work is published in Scientific Reports.
In the search for non-platinum electrocatalysts for fuel cells, gold nanoparticles (Au-NPs) have attracted a great deal of interest due to their very high catalytic activity for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR), despite the inertness of bulk gold. Further, small-sized Au-NPs have been shown to have excellent tolerance to methanol oxidation—meaning that methanol poisoning can be ignored, an ideal attribute for practical applications, especially in the cathode in the direct methanol alkaline fuel cells.
Japanese public-private partnership to test end-to-end H2 supply chain using wind power to begin this fall; 2nd-life hybrid batteries for ESS
March 14, 2016
A Japanese partnership comprising the Kanagawa Prefectural Government; the municipal governments of the cities of Yokohama and Kawasaki; Toyota; Toshiba; and Iwatani announced the forthcoming start of a four-year project to implement and evaluate an end-to-end low-carbon hydrogen supply chain which will use hydrogen produced from renewable energy to power forklifts. (Earlier post.) The project will be carried out at facilities along Tokyo Bay in Yokohama and Kawasaki, with support from Japan’s Ministry of the Environment.
Electricity generated at the Yokohama City Wind Power Plant (Hama Wing) will power the electrolytic production of hydrogen, which will then be compressed, stored, and then transported in a hydrogen fueling truck to four sites: a factory, a vegetable and fruit market, and two warehouses. At these locations, the hydrogen will be used in fuel cells to power forklifts operating in diverse conditions.
DOE selects 33 clean energy businesses for nearly $6.7M in support under Small Business Vouchers pilot
March 11, 2016
The US Department of Energy (DOE) selected 33 small businesses to work directly with DOE national labs to accelerate the commercialization of new clean energy technologies.
The department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is investing nearly $6.7 million under Round 1 of the new Small Business Vouchers (SBV) pilot. For Round 1, the small businesses and laboratories will collaborate on advancing a number of clean energy technologies, including water, wind, bioenergy, solar, buildings, vehicles, fuel cells, geothermal technologies, and advanced manufacturing. The selected small businesses will work with scientists at nine department laboratories: Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL); National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL); Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL); Sandia National Laboratories (SNL); Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL); Idaho National Laboratory (INL); Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL); Argonne National Laboratory (ANL); and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).
Honda begins sales of Clarity Fuel Cell in Japan; targeting 200 units first year
On 10 March, Honda Motor Co. began sales in Japan of its all-new fuel cell vehicle (FCV), the Clarity Fuel Cell. (Earlier post.) Honda is targeting sales of approximately 200 units in the first year, with a focus on lease sales mainly to local government bodies or businesses Honda has already been working with over the years for the development and popularization of FCVs.
During this period, Honda will collect information about the in-market use of the Clarity Fuel Cell as well as its external power output device and gather opinions and requests from customers and other relevant organizations, and then later begin sales to individual customers.
UT, Oak Ridge scientists gain new insights into atomic disordering of complex metal oxides; materials for energy applications
March 08, 2016
A team from the University of Tennessee, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Stanford University, the University of Michigan and Forschungszentrum Jülich Institute of Energy and Climate Research has used neutron total scattering to gain new insights into atomic disordering of complex metal oxides.
This provides a new basis for understanding order-to-disorder transformations important for applications such as plutonium immobilization (host materials for nuclear waste containment), fast ion conduction (solid oxide fuel cells), and thermal barrier coatings (gas turbine jet engines). A paper on their work is published in the journal Nature Materials.
Ceres Power scales up “Steel Cell” SOFC fuel cell production capability with Innovate UK funding
March 06, 2016
UK-based Ceres Power Holdings, a spin-out from Imperial College, has completed a manufacturing scale-up project that enables high volume production capability for its Steel Cell solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) fuel cell technology, a key step towards mass market commercialization of its unique fuel cell technology in response to growing market opportunities. The SOFC uses natural gas as a fuel to produce electricity.
Ceres Power recently signed a new Joint Development Agreement with Honda R&D jointly to develop stacks using Ceres Power’s metal-supported Steel Cell technology for a range of potential power equipment applications. (Earlier post.)
DOE seeking input on R&D and business needs for automotive PEM fuel cells and fueling
March 05, 2016
The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) is seeking feedback from the research community, relevant stakeholders, and industry on technical and economic barriers for fuel cell-related technologies. (RFI DE-FOA-0001510)
Specifically, FCTO seeks information regarding: R&D needs to improve performance and reduce cost of bipolar plates for polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs); the high startup cost for hydrogen refueling stations, which may be caused by extensive installation and permitting efforts or low equipment utilization; and innovative research topics that may not currently be part of the FCTO portfolio but could potentially be appropriate for future efforts or funding opportunity announcements.
Loop Energy wins $7.5M from SDTC to support battery/fuel cell powertrains for heavy-duty trucks
March 04, 2016
Loop Energy—formerly known as PowerDisc Development—has been awarded a $7.5-million grant from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) to accelerate deployment of the company’s new zero-emission powertrain for heavy-duty trucks.
The Loop heavyduty powertrain combines an electric battery with a hydrogen fuel cell designed around its patented eFlow technology. eFlow addresses unequal current distribution in the fuel cell by improving the flow of oxygen, fuel and water within a fuel cell and avoiding degradation of the fuel cell membrane and stack materials.
NHTSA proposes updating electrical safety requirements for fuel cell and mild hybrid vehicles; alignment with int’l standards
The US Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to update electrical safety requirements for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and mild hybrid vehicles.
The NPRM proposes adding an optional method for post-crash electrical safety into the standard, FMVSS No. 305, that involves physical barriers to prevent electric shock due to direct or indirect contact of high voltage sources. This proposed optional method affords the same level of electric shock protection as the other methods for electrical safety currently in FMVSS No. 305 and would enable innovative powertrain technologies. The proposed updates to FMVSS No. 305 align the standard with international regulations and the latest version of the voluntary industry standard, SAE J1766, “Recommended Practice for Electric and Hybrid Electric Vehicle Battery Systems Crash Integrity Testing”.
H2 Logic delivers 9th H2 fueling station for Denmark; 100% renewable hydrogen, 1st country-wide station network
H2 Logic has delivered the ninth hydrogen fueling station in Denmark. The latest site was inaugurated in Kolding. This narrows the driving distance to the nearest station in Hamburg, Germany to only 245 km (150 miles) making cross-border driving on hydrogen more feasible. The station in Kolding is the third to open in Denmark during the past six months, and in total the ninth public accessible hydrogen station in 24/7 operation throughout Denmark.
Additional H2Stations are planned during 2016 which will ensure that 50% of Danish population will have less than 15 kilometers to hydrogen fueling. Already today hydrogen available is in all of the major cities across the country, making it the first countrywide hydrogen station network in the world.
Argonne and Los Alamos national laboratories partner to find alternative to platinum in hydrogen fuel cells; Electrocatalysis Consortium
March 02, 2016
Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne and Los Alamos national laboratories have teamed up to support a DOE initiative through the creation of the Electrocatalysis Consortium (ElectroCat), a collaboration devoted to finding an effective but cheaper alternative to platinum in hydrogen fuel cells. ElectroCat is one of four consortia that make up DOE’s new Energy Materials Network (EMN). (Earlier post.)
About half of the total cost of a typical automotive fuel cell stack comes directly from the cost of the platinum metal in the electrode catalysts. ElectroCat is dedicated to finding new ways to replace rare and costly platinum group metals in fuel cell cathodes with more accessible and inexpensive substitutes such as materials based on the earth-abundant metals iron and cobalt.
ARPA-E to award $30M to increase performance of solid ion conductors for batteries, fuel cells
February 27, 2016
The US Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) will award up to $30 million in funding for a new program focused on creating innovative components for the next generation of batteries, fuel cells, and other electrochemical devices.
ARPA-E’s Integration and Optimization of Novel Ion Conducting Solids (IONICS) program (DE-FOA-0001478) seeks to create transformational electrochemical cells by creating components built with solid ion conductors that have a wide range of desirable properties including low ionic area-specific resistance (ASR); high chemical and electrochemical stability; high selectivity; good mechanical properties; etc. through innovative approaches to overcome tradeoffs among coupled properties.
Honda targeting 2/3 of unit sales from PHEVs, HEVs and ZEVs by ~2030; PHEVs the core of electrification
February 24, 2016
At a press event in Tokyo to lay out his future vision and direction for the company, Honda Motor President & CEO Takahiro Hachigo said that the company will strive to make two-thirds of its overall unit sales from plug-in hybrid/hybrid vehicles and zero-emissions vehicles such as fuel cell vehicles and battery EVs by around 2030.
Hachigo said that Honda will will position plug-in hybrids at the core of electrification in the future and will introduce an all-new plug-in hybrid model in North America by 2018. After that, Honda will make a plug-in hybrid type available for the major models and increase the number of models sequentially.
DOE requesting information on critical energy materials, including fuel cell platinum group metal catalysts
February 18, 2016
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has released a Request for Information (RFI) on critical materials in the energy sector, including fuel cell platinum group metal catalysts. The RFI is soliciting feedback from industry, academia, research laboratories, government agencies, and other stakeholders on issues related to the demand, supply, opportunities for developing substitutes, and potential for using materials more efficiently in the energy sector. The information received from the RFI will be used to update the analyses in DOE’s Critical Material Strategy Reports that were released in 2010 and 2011.
Building on the work of the 2010 and 2011 Critical Materials Strategy reports, the RFI seeks information on materials used in a variety of energy technologies, from generation to end use, and their manufacturing processes. Topics of interest include material intensity; market projections; technology transitions; primary production; supply chains; and recycling.
Riversimple introduces Rasa prototype two-seater fuel cell vehicle; 300 miles on 1.5kg H2; production version in 2018
February 17, 2016
Riversimple Movement Ltd. unveiled the Rasa, a road-legal engineering prototype of its first two-seater hydrogen fuel cell road car, built for full European type approval. (Earlier post.) Supported by a £2-million (US$2.9-million) grant from the Welsh government in 2015, the Rasa was designed for lightness, strength, affordability and safety.
Riversimple plans to offer the car to motorists through a “sale-of-service” model. For a fixed monthly fee and mileage allowance, similar in expenditure to leasing and running a new family-sized hatchback, the company will cover all repair, maintenance, insurance and fuel expenses. Customers will simply exchange or return the car at the end of the ownership period.
First UAV test flight with Cella solid-state hydrogen storage and fuel-cell power system
February 08, 2016
The Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) recently completed a UAV test flight using Cella Energy’s hydrogen-based power system. The system is based on Cella’s solid, nanostructured chemical hydride hydrogen storage material which is capable of releasing large quantities of hydrogen when heated. Cella Energy is a spin-off from STFC’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the UK. (Earlier post.)
Cella designed and built a gas generator using this material, which when combined with a fuel cell, creates electrical power. The complete system—Cella gas generator along with a fuel cell supplied and integrated by Arcola Energy—is considerably lighter than the lithium-ion battery it replaced.
New UMTRI paper reviews major advantages and disadvantages of battery-electric and fuel-cell vehicles
February 01, 2016
A new report from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) reviews the major advantages and disadvantages associated with battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) and fuel-cell vehicles (FCVs). The team of Brandon Schoettle and Dr. Michael Sivak also incudes information for current gasoline-powered internal combustion engines as a baseline comparison.
In addition to reviewing the technical literature, the UMTRI researchers interviewed experts in the automotive and energy sectors regarding their views concerning these issues. Among their findings:
Technavio forecasts 45% CAGR in automotive fuel cell market through 2019
January 31, 2016
The global fuel cell market in the automotive industry is set to grow at a rapid CAGR of more than 45% (in terms of unit shipments) through 2019, according to a new report by global technology research and advisory company Technavio.
Technavio calculated the market size for 2015-2019 based on the revenue generated from the global units and MW shipments of fuel cells in the automotive industry.
Cost-effective iron-nitrogen-doped graphene fuel-cell catalyst approaches performance of platinum
January 27, 2016
Teams at Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and TU Darmstadt have produced a cost-effective fuel-cell catalyst material consisting of iron-nitrogen complexes embedded in tiny islands of graphene only a few nanometers in diameter. The FeN4 centers provide excellent catalytic efficiency, approaching that of platinum.For their synthesis process, they devised a simple and feasible way to reduce the contribution of inorganic metal species in the catalyst material—in some cases even down to zero. The presence of inorganic species interferes with the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) activity of metal and nitrogen-doped carbon catalysts. A paper on their work is published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
Tottori Prefecture, Tottori Gas, Sekisui House and Honda cooperate in hydrogen demonstration; smart house and FCV
January 25, 2016
Tottori Prefecture, Tottori Gas Co., Ltd, Sekisui House Ltd. and Honda Motor Co., Ltd. signed an agreement to pursue jointly Tottori Prefecture’s project to establish a base for a hydrogen energy demonstration (and environmental education). This will be Japan’s first case where hydrogen energy will be utilized through the integration of a hydrogen station which creates hydrogen from renewable energy, a smart house and a fuel cell vehicle (FCV).
The purpose of this project is to promote the popularization of smart houses and FCVs. The project will install, for the first time on the Sea of Japan side of the archipelago, a Smart Hydrogen Station (SHS) using Honda’s high-differential-pressure electrolyzer that supplies hydrogen created by electrolysis of water using renewable energy. Honda will also supply its new Clarity fuel cell vehicle.
Ballard signs $12M agreement for 15 kW fuel cell stacks for commercial bus range-extenders in China
January 22, 2016
Ballard Power Systems signed an Equipment Supply Agreement (ESA), valued at $12 million, with Guangdong Synergy Hydrogen Power Technology Co., Ltd. (Synergy) to provide FCvelocity-9SSL fuel cell stacks for use in commercial buses in China. Ballard expects to deliver the stacks in 2016 and 2017.Each FCvelocity-9SSL fuel cell stack will deliver approximately 15 kilowatts (kW) of power, appropriate for range-extension applications. The ESA for fuel cell stacks signed today is in addition to agreements that Ballard previously announced for heavy-duty power applications in China. (Earlier post, earlier post, earlier post.)
Ballard receives follow-on order from Nisshinbo for development of fuel cell catalyst; targeting 70% reduction in platinum loading
January 21, 2016
Ballard Power Systems has received a follow-on purchase order from Nisshinbo Holdings Inc. for a further phase of a Technology Solutions program related to the development of a breakthrough catalyst technology intended to reduce the cost of certain proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells. The program, now entering its seventh phase, has been underway for approximately 2.5 years. (Earlier post.)
In a PEM fuel cell, the membrane electrode assembly (MEA) is formed by placing a catalyst coated membrane between two flow field plates. When hydrogen gas flows across one side of the MEA and oxygen moves across the other side an electrochemical (non-combustion) reaction occurs, splitting hydrogen into protons and electrons. The electrons are captured as electricity. Combining fuel cells together to form multi-layer stacks increases the amount of electricity that can be produced.
Honda to begin leasing Clarity fuel cell vehicle in California by year end; targeting <$500/month
At Washington, D.C. Auto Show, Honda said that it will begin retail leasing of the new 5-passenger, hydrogen-powered Clarity Fuel Cell sedan (earlier post) to customers in select California markets before the end of 2016. Honda expects to price the Clarity Fuel Cell at around $60,000 with a targeted monthly lease under $500.
Honda expects limited volumes in the early stages of production. Deliveries will begin through certified fuel cell vehicle dealers in Los Angeles and Orange counties as well as the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento. The company will start by leasing vehicles and expects to move to retail sales with increased volumes and market coverage coincident with increasing vehicle supplies and the growing hydrogen refueling station network.
SAE’s highest technical safety award goes to hydrogen fueling paper
At the Awards Ceremony at the SAE 2016 Government/Industry Meeting, SAE International honored the recipients of the Ralph H. Isbrandt Automotive Safety Engineering Award, including the lead author, Jesse Schneider, (BMW); along with co-authors Jihyun Shim (Hyundai); Graham Meadows (IMPCO); Steven R. Mathison (Honda); Michael J. Veenstra (Ford); Rainer Immel (Opel); Morten Wistoft-Ibsen (H2 Logic); Manfred Greisel (Wenger Engineering); Spencer Quong (SQI); Timothy McGuire (MB RDNA); and Peter Potzel (Daimler).
The Ralph Isbrandt Award annually recognizes the author(s) delivering the most outstanding paper at an SAE Society or section meeting on the subject of automotive safety engineering. The 2016 Ralph Isbrandt award recognizes the advancement to SAE literature of the recipients’ SAE World Congress Technical Paper on Hydrogen Fueling, “Validation and Sensitivity Studies for SAE J2601, the Light Duty Vehicle Hydrogen Fueling Standard” (SAE 2014-01-1990). (Earlier post.)
New high-activity, low-cost nickel-based catalyst for fuel cells exhibits performance similar to Pt; hydroxide exchange membrane fuel cells
January 15, 2016
Researchers at the University of Delaware, with a colleague at the Beijing University of Chemical Technology, have developed a composite catalyst—nickel nanoparticles supported on nitrogen-doped carbon nanotubes—that exhibits hydrogen oxidation activity in alkaline electrolyte similar to platinum-group metals. An open access paper on their work is published in the journal Nature Communications.
Although nitrogen-doped carbon nanotubes are a very poor hydrogen oxidation catalyst, as a support, they increase the catalytic performance of nickel nanoparticles by a factor of 33 (mass activity) or 21 (exchange current density) relative to unsupported nickel nanoparticles, the researchers reported. Owing to its high activity and low cost, the catalyst shows significant potential for use in low-cost, high-performance fuel cells, the team suggested.
Audi unveils h-tron quattro fuel cell SUV concept at Detroit; MLB evo platform
January 13, 2016
In a demonstration of its ongoing development of advanced alternative powertrains, Audi unveiled the new h-tron quattro fuel cell concept vehicle at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). Like its production-bound sibling the e-tron quattro battery-electric vehicle, the h-tron concept is based on Audi’s second-generation modular longitudinal platform (MLB evo, earlier post).
The Audi h-tron quattro concept combines an Audi fifth-generation fuel cell stack delivering up to 110 kW with a power-optimized 1.8 kWh HEV battery that can provide a temporary boost of 100 kW for combined peak system power of 210 kW. The car can be fully refueled with hydrogen in around four minutes, and is then ready to drive for up to 600 kilometers (372.8 miles). Unlike the 3-motor e-tron quattro, the h-tron uses two electric motors, one on each axle, and so drives like a “conventional” electric vehicle, notes Audi Head of Electric Powertrain Siegfried Pint—i.e. without the potential for the type of advanced dynamics control offered by the e-tron quattro. (Earlier post.)
Toyota displays Mirai-based research vehicle with satellite communications function; Kymeta flat-panel antennae
January 12, 2016
At the 2016 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), Toyota is displaying a research vehicle based on the Mirai fuel cell vehicle which is equipped with satellite communications technology from Kymeta, a US-based company that is the world's leader in flat-panel antenna technology.
Toyota is working to enhance its connected technologies, including a plan to install a Data Communication Module into a broader range of its vehicles. (Earlier post.) The company is also considering using satellite communications in the future, including high capacity satellites that offer much higher data transfer rates than conventional satellite technologies.
DOE releases three reports showing strong growth in US fuel cell and hydrogen technologies market
December 24, 2015
The US Department of Energy (DOE) released three new reports today showcasing strong growth across the US fuel cell and hydrogen technologies market. According to these reports, the United States continues to be one of the world’s largest and fastest growing markets for fuel cell and hydrogen technologies.
With support from the Energy Department, its national laboratories and private industry have already achieved significant advances in fuel cell and hydrogen technologies, resulting in reduced costs and improved performance. These research and development efforts have helped reduce automotive fuel cell costs by more than 50% since 2006 and by more than 30% since 2008. At the same time, fuel cell durability has quadrupled and the amount of expensive platinum needed in fuel cells has decreased by 80 percent in the last decade.
DOE issues $35M funding opportunity for hydrogen and fuel cell technologies
December 11, 2015
The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced up to $35 million in available funding to advance hydrogen and fuel cell technologies (earlier post) to support research and development, early market deployments, and domestic manufacturing. The Department also aims to develop collaborative consortia for fuel cell performance and durability and advanced hydrogen storage materials research to leverage the capabilities of national lab core teams.
The available funding (DE-FOA-0001412) includes hydrogen production, delivery, and storage research and development (R&D); demonstration of infrastructure component manufacturing, and support for Climate Action Champions deploying hydrogen and fuel cell technologies; consortia topics for fuel cell performance and durability and advanced hydrogen storage materials research; and cost and performance analysis for hydrogen production, storage, and fuel cells.
High-performance, cost-effective nanoparticle electrocatalyst for fuel cells outperforms commercial Pt/C catalyst
December 09, 2015
Scientists at Korea’s Institute for Basic Science’s (IBS’) Center for Nanoparticle Research and colleagues at other institutions in Korea have synthesized highly durable and active intermetallic ordered face-centered tetragonal (fct)-PtFe nanoparticles (NPs) coated with a “dual purpose” N-doped carbon shell as fuel cell electrocatalysts.
The ordered fct-PtFe/C nanocatalyst coated with an N-doped carbon shell shows 11.4 times-higher mass activity and 10.5 times-higher specific activity than commercial Pt/C catalyst. Moreover, the team demonstrated long-term stability in the membrane electrode assembly (MEA) for 100 hours without significant activity loss. A paper on their work is published in theJournal of the American Chemical Society.
GM and US Army to demonstrate extreme off-road hydrogen fuel cell Chevrolet Colorado
November 20, 2015
General Motors and the US Army Tank Automotive Research, Development &
Engineering Center (TARDEC) are modifying a Chevrolet Colorado midsize pickup truck to run on a commercial hydrogen fuel cell propulsion system and will expose the truck to the extremes of daily military use for 12 months.
Fuel cell propulsion has very high low-end torque capability useful in off-road environments. It also offers exportable electric power and quiet operation, attractive characteristics to both commercial and military use.
Honda Clarity Fuel Cell sedan makes N. American debut at LA Auto Show; available in California late 2016; PHEV in 2018
November 18, 2015
The Honda Clarity Fuel Cell sedan (earlier post) made its North American debut at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show as Honda announced additional details for the vehicle’s entry into the US market. The next evolution of Honda’s fuel cell technology, the Clarity Fuel Cell delivers significant gains in packaging, interior space, efficiency and real-world performance.
Honda also announced that the platform underpinning the Clarity Fuel Cell will also serve as the foundation for a next-generation Honda plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) that will launch nationwide by 2018, with more than triple the 13-mile all-electric range of the Accord Plug-In Hybrid Sedan.
Audi highlights its range of electrification efforts; Q7 diesel PHEV, A7 fuel cell PHEV, BEV, 48V and more; 750 Wh/l by 2025
November 17, 2015
Audi presented a range of its ongoing work on electromobility and efficiency—from fuels and systems to full vehicles—under the “Future Performance Days 2015” banner.
On the full vehicle side, Audi put forward the Audi Q7 e-tron 3.0 TDI quattro plug-in hybrid (earlier post); the Audi A7 h-tron quattro fuel cell vehicle (earlier post); the Audi e-tron quattro concept battery-electric SUV (earlier post); the Audi TT clubsport turbo concept (earlier post); the Audi RS 5 TDI competition concept (earlier post); and the Audi R18 e-tron quattro (earlier post). On the systems and fuels side, Audi discussed battery technology; wireless charging; 48 V electrification (earlier post); Audi fuel cell technology; and Audi e-fuels (earlier post).
Kia outlines 5-year plan for more green vehicles; Optima PHEV, Niro hybrid, FCV; $10.2B investment
November 16, 2015
Kia Motors outlined its mid- to long-term plans for the development of a greatly increased range of environmentally friendly vehicles, with the goal of becoming a leader in the low-emissions car market by 2020. Kia said it intends to expand its green car line-up from four current models to 11 by 2020, including hybrids, plug-in hybrids, battery-electric and fuel cell electric vehicles.
The five-year development plan will see Kia further increase its investment in research and development (R&D) into fuel-efficient technologies and new products, with a range of all-new models and highly advanced powertrains for global markets.
DOE releases SBIR/STTR FY16 Phase 1 Release 2 topics; hydrogen, electric vehicles, more efficient combustion engines; biogas-to-fuels
The US Department of Energy has announced the 2016 Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) Phase I Release 2 Topics, covering eight DOE research program organizations.
Among the many topics listed are magnetocaloric materials development for hydrogen delivery; two hydrogen technology transfer opportunities (TTO); EV traction batteries and power electronics; new combustion engine technologies; and the co-utilization of CO2 and methane in biogas to produce higher hydrocarbon fuels. DOE plans to issue the full Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) on 30 November 2015.
3M and Plug Power announce strategic supply agreement for PEM fuel cell MEAs; material handling and EV markets
November 15, 2015
3M will supply Plug Power Inc. with membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) to be used in Plug Power designed proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell stacks under a new strategic supply agreement.
Through this strategic supply agreement, fuel cell stacks will be manufactured in Plug Power’s Latham, NY and Spokane, WA facilities to support the $20-billion material handling market. Additionally, this new fuel cell stack technology will be utilized to expand Plug Power’s presence into hydrogen-enabled electric vehicle applications outside of the material handling market. Fuel cell systems using the 3M MEA’s and Plug Power stack design will begin shipments in the fourth quarter of 2015.
KAIST researchers develop mechanical nanoscale fasteners for fuel cell membranes; lower cost, higher efficiency, easily manufactured
November 09, 2015
Scientists at KAIST have developed a physical interlocking interface that can tightly bind a sulfonated poly(arylene ether sulfone) (SPAES) membrane and a Nafion catalyst layer in PEM fuel cells, paving the way for lower-cost, higher-efficiency and more easily manufactured proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells. They reported on their work in a recent paper in the journal Advanced Materials.
To generate electricity, PEM fuel cells rely on two chemical compartments separated by a permeable catalyst membrane. This membrane acts as an electrolyte; a negative electrode is bonded to one side of the membrane and a positive electrode is bonded to the other. The electrolyte membrane is often based on a polymer of perfluorosulfonic acid. Due to its high cost, however, a less expensive hydrocarbon-based electrolyte membrane has attracted interest in this technology sector.
Mercedes-Benz Vision Tokyo concept fuel cell hybrid leverages F 015 Luxury in Motion concept
October 28, 2015
Mercedes-Benz introduced a new advanced design concept at the Tokyo Motor Show: the Vision Tokyo. The concept is powered by a fuel cell electric drive system based on the F-CELL PLUG-IN HYBRID of the self-driving F 015 Luxury in Motion concept introduced at CES in January. (Earlier post.) The next combines the on-board generation of electricity with a particularly powerful and compact high-voltage battery that can be charged wirelessly via induction.
Pressure tanks made from CFRP store the hydrogen in the concept car. The electric hybrid system has a total range of 980 kilometers (609 miles), of which some 190 kilometers (118 miles) are courtesy of battery-powered driving and around 790 kilometers (491 miles) from the electricity produced in the fuel cell.
Honda leverages older name for new FCV: Clarity Fuel Cell makes its debut at Tokyo; 435-mile range on JC08
October 27, 2015
Honda Motor Co., Ltd. unveiled the planned production model of its all-new fuel cell vehicle (FCV), called Clarity Fuel Cell, at the 44th Tokyo Motor Show 2015. This model will be on display at the Honda booth during the show. The name honors its predecessor, the FCX Clarity fuel cell vehicle, introduced at the LA Auto Show in 2007. (Earlier post.)
Employing original Honda technologies, the fuel cell stack for this model was downsized by 33% compared to the previous version of the fuel cell stack yet delivers output of more than 100 kW, with an output density of 3.1 kW/L—approximately a 60% improvement. The fuel cell powertrain was made as compact as a Honda 3.5L V6 engine, enabling it to be packaged under the hood of a sedan-type vehicle for the first time. This powertrain layout enabled a full cabin package that seats five adults.
Aeristech developing turbomachine-type electric air compressors for fuel cells; claims potential doubling of output
UK-based Aeristech, a provider of electrically driven pressure charging solutions (earlier post), is developing electric air compressor technology that the company says could double the output from a hydrogen fuel cell. The electric compressor would enable vehicle manufacturers to increase performance or to specify a considerably more compact fuel cell, improving packaging and weight.
The Aeristech fuel cell compressor uses an aluminium, turbomachine-type compressor with volume automotive manufacturing tolerances, direct-coupled to a variable high-speed motor with no transmission. This represents a significant change from roots- and screw-type compressors.
Technical review outlines challenges for both batteries and fuel cells as basis for electric vehicles
October 26, 2015
In an open-access invited review for the Journal of the Electrochemical Society, Oliver Gröger (earlier post), Volkswagen AG; Dr. Hubert A. Gasteiger, Chair of Technical Electrochemistry, Technische Universität München; and Dr. Jens-Peter Suchsland, SolviCore GmbH, delve into the technological barriers for all-electric vehicles—battery-electric or PEM fuel cell vehicles.
They begin by observing that the EU’s goal of 95 gCO2/km fleet average emissions by 2020 can only be met by means of extended range electric vehicles or all-electric vehicles in combination with the integration of renewable energy (e.g., wind and solar). Based on other studies, they note that without an increasing percentage of renewables in the European electricity generation mix, the only vehicle concept which could meet the 95 gCO2/km target is the pure battery electric vehicles. (Hydrogen produced via electrolysis using the EU mix or by natural gas reforming would exceed the target.)
JRC report finds electric vehicles in Europe on the way to full-scale commercialization
October 23, 2015
The European Union appears to be undergoing a transition from the testing of and experimentation with electric vehicles to full-scale EV commercialization, according to a new report from the EU’s Joint Research Center (JRC). This report covers battery-electric (BEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV), range extended electric vehicles (REV), and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV).
The number of sold electric vehicles of all types rose from 760 in 2010 to more than 70,000 in 2014, with the trend continuing in the first half of 2015, according to the report. The choice of models went from 3 to nearly 30 in the same period. The share of electric vehicles produced in the EU has also expanded, increasing from 30% (of EV registered in the EU) in 2011 to 65% in 2014.
DLR developing four-passenger fuel cell aircraft
October 15, 2015
The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) is developing a four-passenger aircraft powered solely by a hydrogen fuel cell battery system. DLR presented the HY4 project at the International Trade Fair World of Energy Solutions this week in Stuttgart.
HY4 uses a hybrid system: the main power source is a low-temperature Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell, which continuously supplies the electric motor with durable and reliable power. A high-performance lithium battery covers peak power loads during take-off and when climbing.
Toyota announces aggressive environmental targets through 2050; cutting new vehicle CO2 by 90% compared to 2010
October 14, 2015
Addressing key global environmental issues such as climate change, water shortages, resource depletion, and degradation of biodiversity, the Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050 aims to reduce the negative impact of manufacturing and driving vehicles as much as possible. The challenge comprises six individual challenges across three areas: Ever-better cars, quantified as reducing global average new-vehicle CO2 emissions by 90% by 2050 compared to Toyota’s 2010 global average; ever-better manufacturing (zero CO2 emissions at all plants by 2050); and enriching the lives of communities.
As a key step toward achieving these long-term targets, Toyota is announcing its Sixth Toyota Environmental Action Plan, which will be enacted between April 2016 and the end of March 2021.
European working group led by Intelligent Energy to develop 90kW automotive EC fuel cell stack for mass manufacture
October 13, 2015
Intelligent Energy will lead a pan-European industry working group to develop its proprietary 90kW EC (evaporatively cooled, earlier post) fuel cell automotive technology in the funded project called VolumetriQ.
VolumetriQ is a three-year program that will deliver a blueprint for stack suitability for mass manufacture and potential future industrialization. Funded by €5 million (US$5.7 million) from the European program FCH JU (Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking, the target is to develop fuel cell stacks that can be manufactured in high volumes for use in hydrogen fuel cell vehicles by 2020.
New JV pushes hydrogen infrastructure expansion in Germany; ~400 stations by 2023; $455M investment
Six industrial companies in Germany—Air Liquide, Daimler, Linde, OMV, Shell and Total—have formed a cross-sector joint venture, H2 Mobility Deutschland GmbH & Co. KG, to support a staged expansion of hydrogen filling stations across Germany to bring the total to around 400 stations by 2023.
The Berlin-based company has started operations and is working in preparation for Stage One of the joint action plan. This envisages the accelerated set-up of 100 filling stations over the next few years. Senior representatives of the H2 Mobility venture partners met today at launch talks held with Federal Minister of Transport Alexander Dobrindt and discussed the next steps. The industry and government partners have reinforced their commitment by signing a memorandum of understanding on hydrogen filling stations for Germany.
DOE awards more than $20M to advance fuel cell technologies; new report highlights strong market growth
October 09, 2015
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded more than $20 million to 10 projects to advance fuel cell and hydrogen technologies, and to enable early adoption of fuel cell applications such as light-duty fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) (DE-FOA-0001224, earlier post).
The announcement of the latest investment come along with release of a new DOE report—“Fuel Cell Technologies Market Report 2014”—showing the fuel cell industry is continuing to grow at an unprecedented rate, totaling more than $2.2 billion in sales in 2014. The report describes data compiled in 2015 on trends in the fuel cell industry for 2014 with some comparison to previous years.
Sandia, Berkeley and Los Alamos labs in $9M effort for automotive onboard solid-state hydrogen storage; HyMARC
October 08, 2015
Sandia National Laboratories will lead a new tri-lab consortium to address unsolved scientific challenges in the development of viable solid-state materials for storage of hydrogen onboard vehicles. Better onboard hydrogen storage could lead to more reliable and economic hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
Called the Hydrogen Materials—Advanced Research Consortium (HyMARC), the program is funded by the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Fuel Cell Technologies Office within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at $3 million per year for three years ($9 million total), with the possibility of renewal. In addition to Sandia, the core team includes Lawrence Livermore and Lawrence Berkeley national laboratories.
Toyota to unveil new fuel cell vehicle concept; focus on distributed generation as well as transportation
With its fuel cell Mirai already on sale, Toyota Motor is continuing to push the fuel cell envelope with the introduction of a new fuel cell concept at the upcoming Tokyo Moto Show at the end of this month. The new Toyota FCV Plus is a fuel cell concept that embodies Toyota’s vision of a hydrogen-based society. Toyota is also introducing the all-new Prius and the Toyota C-HR Concept, a compact hybrid crossover.
Toyota envisages a sustainable society in which hydrogen energy is in widespread use—a society it says is embodied by the new FCV Plus concept vehicle, which functions as a distributed power generation system as well as a vehicle.
Intelligent Energy announces US$1.8B deal for ~27K telecom towers in India; fuel cell power for ~70%; landmark in fuel cell deployment
October 04, 2015
UK-based fuel cell developer Intelligent Energy will purchase contracts from GTL Limited to supply energy-management services across more than 27,400 telecom towers in India—about 6.4% of the country’s total. Essential Energy, a subsidiary of Intelligent Energy in India, will assume the power management for the towers—a figure equivalent to 50% of the UK’s telecom towers and 13% of the US’. Essential Energy intends to transition around 70% of the managed telecom towers from diesel power to hydrogen fuel cells throughout their contracts’ tenure.
The transaction delivers contracted revenues of approximately £1.2 billion (US$1.8 billion) over ten years—a major development for Intelligent Energy and the industry, said Henri Winand, CEO of Intelligent Energy Holdings. The landmark deal also represents a major milestone in hydrogen fuel cell deployment.
ARB posts discussion draft of new proposed mobile-source emissions reduction strategy through 2030; Advanced Clean Cars 2 regulation
October 02, 2015
The California Air Resources Board (ARB) staff has published a discussion draft of a proposed strategy for further regulation and reduction of mobile source—cars, trucks, and off-road equipment—emissions. The approach described is designed to meet simultaneously federal air quality standards; achieve greenhouse gas emission reduction targets; reduce petroleum consumption; and decrease health risk from transportation sources through 2030.
ARB staff developed this strategy using a multi-pollutant scenario planning tool (Vision 2.0) that quantifies changes in ozone and PM2.5 precursor emissions; GHG emissions; petroleum usage; and diesel toxics emissions as various technologies become widespread in vehicle and equipment fleets.
California ARB announces $24M grant solicitation for zero-emission truck and bus pilot commercial deployment projects
The California Air Resources Board (ARB) announced a grant solicitation for Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Pilot Commercial Deployment Projects. Up to $23,658,000 is available for this project from FY 2014-15 funds. Up to an additional $60,000,000 may be available for projects under this solicitation from future funds appropriated by the California legislature on or before 30 June 2016.
This project complements the Zero-Emission Drayage Truck and Multi-Source Facility Demonstration Projects solicitations released in June of this year as part of a $50-million allocation for advanced technology freight demonstrations.
GM planning to “own” the customer relationship beyond the vehicle; autonomous Volts, car sharing and fuel cells
October 01, 2015
General Motors CEO Mary Barra and her leadership team outlined the company’s plans to capitalize on the future of personal mobility by owning the customer relationship beyond the vehicle, building upon nearly two decades of connectivity leadership.
GM also said it plans to strengthen its core business through global growth initiatives and an aggressive product launch cadence, while continuing to focus on driving cost efficiencies. As a result, the company expects to increase its earnings per share and generate significant shareholder value. The company shared its plans with investors during a conference at its Milford Proving Ground.
International Alliance on ZEVs seeks to accelerate ZEV adoption; 11 founding government members from N America and Europe
September 29, 2015
Eleven European and North American governments are the founding partners of the International ZEV Alliance, which has the mission of accelerating global adoption of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs). California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont in the United States; Québec in Canada; and The Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom in Europe are the founding members.
The members will cooperate to set targets to drive ZEV deployment, share data and best practice policies, and encourage other governments to join them. (The 11 members account for 7% of global car sales, but represent 38% of the global market for electric vehicles.) A new report released by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) outlines an agenda for expanding collaboration. The ICCT serves as Secretariat to the International ZEV Alliance.
Ballard lands $17M deal for deployment of ~300 fuel cell buses in China; new 30 kW and 60 kW modules
September 26, 2015
Under a newly signed long-term license and supply agreement, Ballard Power Systems will supply Guangdong Synergy Hydrogen Power Technology Co., Ltd., an existing partner in China, fuel cell power products and technology in support of the planned deployment of approximately 300 fuel cell-powered buses in the cities of Foshan and Yunfu, China.
The deal has an estimated initial value of $17 million through 2016, with the opportunity for significant recurring royalties starting in 2017. The agreement includes supply and sale of fully-assembled fuel cell power modules; ready-to-assemble module kits; a technology license for localization of assembly; supply of proprietary fuel cell stacks; and long-term recurring royalties leveraged to unit volumes of locally assembled modules.
DOT announces $22.5M in latest round of low or no emissions bus deployment (LoNo) funding
The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced the availability of $22.5 million (FTA-2015-006-TRI) through the latest round of the Low or No Emission Vehicle Deployment Program (LoNo).
The LoNo Program is a capital program focused on deploying new low- or no-emission production buses that are market-ready or near market-ready; i.e., it is not a program for designing and developing prototypes. The program gives priority consideration to the deployment of buses with the lowest energy consumption and least harmful emissions. The previous round of LoNo funding, announced in February 2015, awarded $55 million in grants to ten organizations nationwide. (Earlier post.)
New Pd-based nanomaterial catalyst breaks down formic acid to H2; boost for practical chemical H2 storage
September 24, 2015
Researchers at Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology have developed a simple method for producing a palladium-based nanomaterial that can spur the breakdown of formic acid (FA) into hydrogen and carbon dioxide. Its efficiency far exceeds that of any other reported heterogeneous catalyst, they say. They also found that their process produced carbon dioxide and hydrogen without carbon monoxide contamination, which has been a problem with other methods.
In a paper in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, they suggest that the results open up new avenues in the effective applications of FA for hydrogen storage, including on-board storage for fuel cell vehicles.
$70M H2ME project launches in Europe to deploy 325 fuel cell vehicles and 29 refueling stations
A large coalition of European partners has launched the €63-million (US$70-million) project Hydrogen Mobility Europe (H2ME). H2ME is co-funded with €32 million (US$36 million) from the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU). The project will support the deployment of 325 Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs), including 125 fuel-cell range-extended electric vans, and 29 Hydrogen Refueling Stations (HRS) across Europe.
Together with the project HyFive, which started last year, H2ME complements the pre-existing plans for more than 50 stations, and will create a European network of at least 85 stations (the largest in the world).
CMU researchers rule out one potential cause of resistance in polymer electrolyte fuel cells; R&D guidance toward commercialization
September 14, 2015
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have discovered how nanoscale polymer films limit future cost reductions in fuel cell electric vehicles. Moving forward, this result will direct research and development efforts to address the problem of the electrolyte acid’s interaction with the platinum instead of focusing on the oxygen transport properties. The goal will be to accelerate the commercialization of fuel cell electric vehicles. The results were reported in a paper in the ACS journal Langmuir.
Polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFCs) currently use platinum as the catalyst at the cathode, the site where the fuel cell combines oxygen (from the air) with protons and electrons extracted from the hydrogen fuel at the anode, producing the water exhaust. The large amount of platinum for the cathode forces the cost of the fuel cell system higher. The key to lowering the cost is to reduce the amount of platinum. But as industry and researchers attempt to do this, they encounter a previously-neglected resistance in the cathode that prevents further platinum reductions.
DOE awards ~$25M to 8 projects for CO2 capture and compression; $15M for novel Direct Fuel Cell system
September 02, 2015
The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) has selected eight projects to receive almost $25 million in funding to construct small- and large-scale pilots for reducing the cost of CO2 capture and compression through DOE’s Carbon Capture Program. More than half of the funding ($15 million) will go to FuelCell Energy for a pilot scale project using one of the company’s Direct Fuel Cells for carbon capture and compression.
The DOE’s Carbon Capture Program consists of two core research technology areas, post-combustion capture and pre-combustion capture, and also supports related CO2 compression efforts. Current research and development efforts are advancing technologies that could provide step-change reductions in both cost and energy penalty compared to currently available technologies.
EERC working with Fuel Cell Energy on $3.5M ARPA-E project for electrochemical cell to convert natural gas to methanol
August 29, 2015
The University of North Dakota Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) is working with FuelCell Energy, Inc., an integrated stationary fuel cell manufacturer, to develop a durable, low-cost, and high-performance electrochemical cell to convert natural gas and other methane-rich gas into methanol, a major chemical commodity with worldwide applications in the production of liquid fuels, solvents, resins, and polymers.
The US Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E) awarded $3,500,000 to the project, led by Fuel Cell Energy, as part of its REBELS (Reliable Electricity Based on ELectrochemical Systems) program. (Earlier post.) The project is directed at developing an intermediate-temperature fuel cell that would directly convert methane to methanol and other liquid fuels using advanced metal catalysts.
Argonne researchers develop new non-precious-metal fuel cell catalyst with performance comparable to platinum
August 27, 2015
Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory have developed a new fuel cell catalyst using earth-abundant materials with performance that is comparable to platinum in laboratory tests. The nanofibrous non-precious metal catalyst (NPMC) is synthesized by electrospinning a polymer solution containing a mixture of ferrous organometallics and metal-organic frameworks and then is thermally activated.
The resulting catalyst offers a carbon nanonetwork architecture made of microporous nanofibers decorated by uniformly distributed high-density active sites. As reported in an open access paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), in a single-cell test, the membrane electrode containing the catalyst delivered volumetric activities of 3.3 A⋅cm−3 at 0.9 V or 450 A⋅cm−3 extrapolated at 0.8 V, representing the highest reported value in the literature. The team also observed improved fuel cell durability.
Laser-burned graphene could replace platinum as fuel cell catalyst
August 21, 2015
Researchers at the Tour Lab at Rice University developed an improved cost-effective approach using direct laser scribing to prepare graphene embedded with various types of metallic nanoparticles. The resulting metal oxide-laser induced graphene (MO-LIG) is highly active in electrochemical oxygen reduction reactions with a low metal loading of less than 1 at%. As such, it could be a candidate to replace expensive platinum in catalysts for fuel cells and other applications.
In addition, the researchers noted in their open access paper published in ACS Nano, the nanoparticles can vary from metal oxide to metal dichalcogenides through lateral doping, making the composite active in other electrocatalytic reactions such as hydrogen evolution.
Cal Energy Commission grants $2.4M for Class 8 fuel cell hybrid trucks at ports; $1.2M for PEV fleet and V2G software upgrade
August 13, 2015
The California Energy Commission approved a grant of $2.4 million to the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) under the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program to build and to test seven hybrid fuel-cell, Class 8 trucks to transport cargo at the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports.
The Commission also approved $1.2 million to expand the data collection effort for the plug-in vehicle project at Los Angeles Air Force Base (earlier post) to assess fully the economic and technical viability of transforming military base tactical vehicles to plug-in electric drive vehicle drive vehicles participating in vehicle-to-grid services.
Ipsos poll finds 64% of Canadians would consider buying or leasing fuel cell vehicle if available
August 11, 2015
Eight in ten (80%) Canadians “agree” (33% strongly/48% somewhat) that “electric cars are the way of the future”, according to a new Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of Hyundai. Just two in ten (20%) “disagree” (3% strongly/17% somewhat). Three quarters (75%) of Canadians “agree” (32% strongly/44% somewhat) that they would “like to have a car that is not powered by traditional gasoline”, while only one in four (25%) “disagree” (7% strongly/18% somewhat) that they would like to drive such a car.
However, the poll also found that a majority (71%) “agrees” (25% strongly/46% somewhat) that “constantly having to charge electric cars is a pain” (29% disagree – 7% strongly/22% somewhat). While most (90%) can “agree” (45% strongly/45% somewhat) that “cars that operate on an alternate source of fuel rather than traditional gasoline are great for the environment” and that they’re “innovative” (89% agree – 38% strongly/51% somewhat), two in three (67%) also “agree” (20% strongly/47% somewhat) that they would “like to own an eco-friendly car but electric-powered cars are too much hassle”. One in three (33%) “disagrees” (8% strongly/25% somewhat) that electric-powered cars are too much hassle. Only one in four (24%) say they’re “familiar” (3% very/22% somewhat) with hydrogen fuel cell technology, while most (76%) are not (43% not very/32% not at all familiar – never heard of it).
ILL team uses neutron scattering to elucidate structure and dynamics of superionic conductor Li4C60; potential for batteries and fuel cells
August 05, 2015
Researchers at the Institut Laue Langevin (ILL), a leading international research center for neutron science and technology, and their colleagues have elucidated the structure and dynamics of the solid superionic conductor Li4C60 using neutron scattering. Their paper is published in the journal Physical Review B.
When atoms of alkali-metals such as lithium (Li) are added to cage-like Buckminsterfullerene molecules (C60 buckyballs), the buckyballs undergo polymerization, forming long chains that create a material with a range of new properties. Despite being a solid, Li4C60 displays an ionic conductivity comparable to that of liquid electrolytes, even at room temperature. This has led to suggestions that this material could find use in future fuel-cells or batteries.
Sandia Labs partnering with Red and White Fleet to develop high-speed H2 fuel cell passenger ferry and world’s largest H2 refueling station
July 28, 2015
Sandia National Laboratories and San Francisco’s Red and White Fleet are partnering in a project—SF-BREEZE (San Francisco Bay Renewable Energy Electric vessel with Zero Emissions)—to develop a high-speed, hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered passenger ferry and refueling station. The hydrogen refueling station is planned to be the largest in the world and serve fuel cell electric cars, buses and fleet vehicles in addition to the ferry and other maritime vehicles.
The US Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) is funding a feasibility study to examine the technical, regulatory and economic aspects of the project. The outcome of the feasibility study will be a “Go/No-Go” recommendation to proceed with the actual design and build of the ferry and hydrogen station.
Georgia Tech ultra-thin hollow nanocages could significantly reduce platinum use in fuel cell electrodes
July 24, 2015
A team led by researchers at Georgia Tech has developed a new fabrication technique to produce platinum-based hollow nanocages with ultra-thin walls that could significantly reduce the amount of the costly metal needed to provide catalytic activity.
Use of these nanocage structures in fuel cell electrodes could increase the utilization efficiency of the platinum electrocatalyst by a factor of as much as seven, potentially changing the economic viability of the fuel cells. The work also involved researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Arizona State University; and Xiamen University in China. The process is described in a paper in the journal Science.
New non-metallic molecular catalyst system approaches efficiency of platinum in fuel cell oxygen reduction reaction
July 17, 2015
A team of chemists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison has demonstrated a new molecular (i.e., non-metallic) catalyst system for the fuel cell oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) that approaches the efficiency of platinum. Although molecular catalysts have been explored before, earlier examples were much less efficient than the traditional platinum catalyst. An open access paper on their work is publishedin the journal ACS Central Science.
The new catalyst is composed of a mixture of nitroxyls and nitrogen oxides. These molecular partners play well together; one reacts well with the electrode while the other reacts efficiently with the oxygen.
DOE selects 16 research projects for more than $19M in funding to advance Solid Oxide Fuel Cell technology
July 14, 2015
The Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) has selected 16 solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology research projects for a total of more than $19 million ($19,358,915) in funding.
In Fiscal Year (FY) 2015, NETL issued two funding opportunities announcements (FOAs) to support programs that enable the development and deployment of this energy technology. The projects selected under the two FOAs will receive funding through NETL’s Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Program. The FOAs were awarded with two primary objectives: to design, construct, and field-test a SOFC prototype system; and to support innovations that improve the reliability, robustness, and endurance of SOFC cell and stack technology.
Navigant forecasts global annual sales of LDVs of 122.6M by 2035, up 38% from 2015
July 06, 2015
In a new report, Navigant Research forecasts global annual sales of light duty vehicles will reach 122.6 million by 2035, up 38% from a projected 88.8 million this year, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1.6%. Navigant Research expects the number of LDVs in use on roads worldwide to grow by 57.1% from 2015 to 2035 to almost 1.9 billion units.
Navigant expects sales of conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles will fall significantly over the forecast period, experiencing a CAGR of -6.6%. As a result, the share of vehicles in use that are conventional ICE vehicles will fall from more than 91% in 2015 to under 40% by 2035. Navigant expects ICE vehicles will be replaced by start-stop vehicles (SSVs), which will grow from representing more than 4% of vehicles in use in 2015 to nearly 49% in 2035. Hybrids (HEVs) are expected to account for nearly 3%, while PHEVs (plug-in hybrids), BEVs (battery-electric vehicles), NGVs (natural gas vehicles), PAGVs (propane autogas vehicles), and FCV (fuel cell vehicles) s together are projected to add up to more than 9% of the LDVs in use in 2035.
BMW shows future drive technologies; 2 Series PHEV prototype, direct water injection in 3-cyl. engine, and fuel cell eDrive
July 02, 2015
During a driving event at the Miramas proving grounds in southern France, BMW presented future drive technologies, including the prototype of a BMW 2 Series Active Tourer with plug-in hybrid drive. This application of BMW eDrive technologies features the first PHEV system with a front/transverse-mounted combustion engine, high-voltage generator and road-linked all-wheel drive via an electric drive system at the rear axle.
The company also showcased the use of direct water injection to enhance the efficiency of combustion engines at higher performance levels while also significantly reducing fuel consumption and emissions in key driving cycles. Finally, BMW showcased a hydrogen fuel cell drive system as a future-focused variant of BMW eDrive (teased in a technical session during April’s SAE World Congress in Detroit) enabling all-electric driving with a high operating range and short refueling times. (BMW is collaborating with Toyota on fuel cell systems. Earlier post.)
Toyota, Nissan and Honda agree on details of H2 station support in Japan
July 01, 2015
Toyota Motor Corporation, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., and Honda Motor Co., Ltd. have agreed on key details of their joint support project for the development of hydrogen station infrastructure in Japan. (Earlier post.) The joint project (conducted alongside the Japanese government’s support for hydrogen stations) will cover one-third of the hydrogen station operating expenses incurred by infrastructure companies, and was first announced on 12 February.
Annual financial support per station is limited to ¥11 million (US$89,000). (The annual limit is ¥13 million (US$106,000) where two or more mobile stations are operated.) The partners envision funding support until around 2020. 100 hydrogen stations will be constructed initially, with a gradual increase expected thereafter. The total value of the support is estimated at around ¥5-6 billion (US$41-$49 million).
New operando technique shows atomic-scale changes during catalytic reactions in real-time; applications for batteries and fuel cells
June 30, 2015
A new technique developed by a team of researchers led by Eric Stach at Brookhaven National Laboratory and Anatoly Frenkel at Yeshiva University reveals atomic-scale changes during catalytic reactions in real time and under real operating conditions. An open access paper on the work is published in the journal Nature Communications.
The team used a new microfabricated catalytic reactor to combine synchrotron X-ray absorption spectroscopy and scanning transmission electron microscopy for an unprecedented portrait of a common chemical reaction. The results demonstrate a powerful operando—i.e., in a working state—technique that is generalizable to quantitative operando studies of complex systems using a wide variety of X-ray and electron-based experimental probes. This may have a tremendous impact on research on catalysts, batteries, fuel cells, and other major energy technologies.
DOE Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Program Annual Merit Review Awards
June 15, 2015
Each year, at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Annual Merit Review and Peer Evaluation Meeting, the Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program presents awards for contributions to the overall efforts of the Program and to recognize achievements in specific areas. At last week’s merit review meeting, DOE made awards to 13 engineers and researchers.
Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program Awards. DOE awarded two Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program awards: one to George Parks of Fuel Science, the other to Jesse Schneider of BMW. (Schneider also recently received the 2015 James M. Crawford Technical Standards Board Outstanding Achievement Award from SAE for his work on hydrogen standards.)
DOE issues request for information on gas clean-up for fuel cell applications
June 02, 2015
The US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) has issued a request for information (DE-FOA-0001331) to obtain feedback and opinions from industry, academia, research laboratories, government agencies, and other stakeholders on the report findings from the Gas Clean-up for Fuel Cell Applications Workshop.
The Gas Clean-up for Fuel Cell Applications Workshop was held last year at Argonne National Laboratory, and featured 43 participants from industry (fuel cell, process solution providers, and material suppliers), government agencies, advocacy groups, universities, and national laboratories with expertise in the relevant fields. The objective of the workshop was to identify and prioritize:
DOE announces $26.6M SBIR/STTR FY15 Phase 1 Release 2 awards; fuel cells, batteries, power electronics and efficient combustion engines
May 28, 2015
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has selected 162 projects to receive about $26.6 million in the 2015 Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) Phase I Release 2 Awards. (Earlier post.) Of these, 16 are vehicle-related, encompassing projects developing batteries, power electronics and improved combustion engine technology including on-board reformers, and two are specifically hydrogen fuel cell-related.
Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) are Federal programs in which agencies with large research and development (R&D) budgets set aside a small fraction of their funding for competitions among small businesses only. Small businesses that win awards in these programs keep the rights to any technology developed and are encouraged to commercialize the technology. While the original charter of the program focused on technological innovation, the current programs have evolved to have a greater focus on commercialization.
Hydrogenics and Alstom Transport to develop and commercialize H2 fuel-cell commuter trains in Europe; €50M, 10-year agreement
May 27, 2015
Hydrogenics Corporation, a leading developer and manufacturer of hydrogen generation and hydrogen-based power modules, signed a 10-year exclusive agreement to supply Alstom Transport with hydrogen fuel cell systems for Regional Commuter Trains in Europe. Alstom Transport is a unit of Alstom, a France-based global leader in power generation, transmission and rail infrastructure with sales of €6.2 billion.
The agreement, valued at more than €50 million, includes the supply of at least 200 engine systems along with service and maintenance as necessary over a 10-year period. The fuel cell systems, based on Hydrogenics’s Heavy-Duty HD series fuel cells, will be developed to meet European train compliance regulations. The first units are expected to be delivered in 2016 following prototype work slated for late 2015.
Ballard to move to next phase of PEM fuel cell catalyst development project with Nisshinbo
May 26, 2015
Ballard Power Systems has received a purchase order from Nisshinbo Holdings Inc. for the next phase of Technology Solutions project work related to the development of a breakthrough catalyst technology intended to reduce manufacturing cost of certain proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells. The project has now been underway for approximately 2 years.
Nisshinbo is an energy company providing low-carbon, optimized products across a range of business lines, including chemicals, precision instruments, electronics, automotive brakes, textiles and paper. Nisshinbo has supplied Ballard with compression molded bipolar flow field plates for more than 10-years, for use in the manufacture of PEM fuel cell membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) used in various market applications.
Platinum-chromium alloy outperforms platinum as fuel cell catalyst
May 25, 2015
A team from Germany reports that a 40 wt% Pt3Cr/C alloy fuel cell catalyst shows enhanced activity under both half-cell and full-cell conditions as well as excellent corrosion stability compared to those of the 40 wt% Pt/C benchmark catalyst.
As presented at the Meeting of the Electrochemical Society earlier this month, in half-cell experiments at 2 mA cm−², the Pt3Cr/C catalyst exhibited 10 mV less over-potential and two-fold higher specific and mass activity for the ORR (oxygen reduction reaction) than Pt/C. The average particle size grew from 4.5 nm up to “only” 6–8 nm after 7000 degradation cycles. By comparison, the average particle size of Pt/C increased from 4.5 up to 10–30 nm.
Toyota reports new real-time observation method sets stage for more efficient, durable fuel cell stacks
May 18, 2015
Toyota Motor Corporation and Japan Fine Ceramics Center (JFCC) have developed a new observation technique that allows researchers to monitor the behavior of nanometer-sized particles of platinum during chemical reactions in fuel cells, so that the processes leading to reduced catalytic reactivity can be observed in real-time.
The aim of the new technique is to identify the behavior, conditions and materials that make platinum catalyst nanoparticles critical to fuel cell efficiency and longevity prone to “coarsening”, with the accompanying degradation of capability. The new real-time observation technique could lead to a new generation of more efficient and durable fuel cell stacks, Toyota suggested. Toyota researchers will present the technique and their findings at the upcoming 2015 JSAE Annual Congress (Spring).
Intelligent Energy showcasing 100kW hydrogen fuel cell architecture at JSAE Automotive Engineering Exposition
May 15, 2015
The company’s unique stack technology offers leading power densities of 3.5 kW/l (volumetric) and 3.0 kW/kg (gravimetric), while being engineered for low-cost, high-volume series production. Intelligent Energy’s 100kW architecture will be available to vehicle manufacturers through technology licensing programs and joint development agreements.