[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.]
Broad-Ocean Motor in strategic collaboration with Ballard; $28.3M investment, 9.9% ownership; initial order for 10,000 fuel cell vehicles
July 27, 2016
Zhongshan Broad-Ocean Motor Co., Ltd. has entered into a strategic collaboration with Ballard Power Systems, including a $28.3-million equity investment in Ballard, representing 9.9% of the company following the transaction.
Founded in 1994, Broad-Ocean is a global manufacturer of motors that power small and specialized electric machinery for electric vehicles (EVs), including buses, commercial vehicles and passenger vehicles, and for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC). Broad-Ocean has 4 business units: EV; Rotating Electrical for Vehicles; HVAC; and EV Operations Platform.
European Strategy for low-emission mobility stresses digital tech, electrification and ZEVs
July 22, 2016
Earlier this week, the European Commission published a strategy for low-emission mobility, which sets out guiding principles to Member States to prepare for the future. EU legislation currently refers to low-emission vehicles as vehicles having tailpipe emissions below 50 g/km. This would include some plug-in hybrids, full electric cars and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. The latter two examples also represent zero-emission vehicles.
The low-emission mobility strategy will frame the initiatives that the Commission is planning in the coming years, and it maps the areas in which it is exploring options. It also shows how initiatives in related fields are linked and how synergies can be achieved. In parallel to this strategy, the Commission is launching public consultations on the approach towards reducing emissions from road transport: cars and vans as well as trucks, buses and coaches.
NRDC-sponsored Shulock report says California ZEV regulations need a tune-up to meet 2025 goals
A report commissioned by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and prepared by Chuck Shulock finds that the California Zero-Emission Vehicles (ZEV) regulations—also adopted by nine other states—requires a ‘tune-up’ to ensure the market expands well beyond current sale levels.
The findings of the report suggest that the number of vehicles required through 2025 will be smaller than originally projected in 2012 when ARB adopted the last major revisions to the ZEV program. While some of these vehicles will be higher performing in terms of electric range than the vehicles originally assumed in 2012, the net result is that the total number of ZEVs is likely to fall short of the original 2025 goals.
DOE announces FY17 SBIR Phase I Release 1 topics; includes fuel cell catalysts and hydrogen delivery
July 21, 2016
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced the 2017 Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) Phase I Release 1 topics, including two subtopics focused on hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.
The fuel cell subtopic includes novel, durable supports for low-platinum group metal (PGM) catalysts for polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells. The hydrogen delivery subtopic focuses on metal hydride materials for compression. Specific topics are:
Ballard signs follow-on technology solutions agreement for MEA development with leading global automotive OEM
Ballard Power Systems signed a follow-on Technology Solutions contract with an unnamed leading global automotive OEM. Under the contract Ballard will provide expertise in proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell technology in order to advance the customer’s membrane electrode assembly (MEA) development program related to future versions of its engine for fuel cell vehicles.
This follow-on contract involves Technology Solutions work that began with this customer in 2014, including technology transfer. MEAs are a key component of each PEM fuel cell and the MEA-related work in this customer program is being undertaken by Ballard engineers and test technicians in conjunction with the OEM’s in-house fuel cell technical team. The program is expected to be completed later in 2016.
Ballard Power signs deal for production of fuel cell stacks in China; est. $168M over 5 years; buses and commercial vehicles
July 18, 2016
Ballard Power Systems signed definitive agreements with Guangdong Nation Synergy Hydrogen Power Technology Co. Ltd. (Synergy) for the establishment of an FCvelocity-9SSL fuel cell stack production operation in the City of Yunfu, in Guangdong Province. The fuel cell stacks will be packaged into locally-assembled fuel cell systems and integrated into electric buses and commercial vehicles in China.
Subject to closing, the transaction has a contemplated minimum value to Ballard of $168 million over 5-years and includes these key elements:
Hyundai and US DOE extend fuel cell vehicle loan partnership in concert with new DC-based hydrogen fueling station
July 11, 2016
Hyundai and the US Department of Energy (DOE) are extending their fuel cell vehicle confirmation program, originally from 2013 through 2015, to a second phase, from 2016 through 2017.
The program involves Hyundai providing a number of Tucson Fuel Cell CUVs (earlier post) for daily use and confirmation by the DOE using existing hydrogen infrastructure. This phase of the program will make significant use of a newly-opened hydrogen refueling station in the Washington DC region.
Researchers use ceria to trap platinum atoms, improving catalyst efficiency and enabling reduced loading
July 08, 2016
Researchers from the University of New Mexico, Washington State University, and GM Global R&D have developed a novel approach to trap platinum atoms used in catalysts, preventing their agglomeration and the resultant reduction of catalyst efficiency. By trapping the platinum to prevent agglomeration, the process enables the atoms to continue their activity, enabling lower loading and thus lower cost. A paper on the work is published in the journal Science.
Platinum is used as a catalyst in many clean energy systems, including in catalytic converters and fuel cells. The precious metal facilitates chemical reactions for many commonly used products and processes, such as converting poisonous carbon monoxide to less harmful carbon dioxide in catalytic converters. Because of platinum’s expense and scarcity, industries are continually looking to use less of it and to develop catalysts that more efficiently use individual platinum atoms in reactions. At high temperatures, however, the atoms become mobile and fly together into clumps, which reduces catalyst efficiency and performance. This is the primary reason catalytic converters are tested regularly for effectiveness.
DOE awarding $13M to advance fuel cell performance and durability and H2 storage technologies
July 07, 2016
The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced more than $13 million in funding for the advancement of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. These projects, selected through collaborative research consortia, will leverage industry, university and laboratory expertise to accelerate advanced hydrogen storage technologies and fuel cell performance and durability.
In 2016, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy established two collaborative research consortia, each comprising a core team of DOE national laboratories, with plans to add industry and university partners: the Fuel Cell Consortium for Performance and Durability (FC-PAD) and the Hydrogen Materials—Advanced Research Consortium (HyMARC). (Earlier post.)
ISO/TS 19880:2016 – New technical document for hydrogen stations
July 05, 2016
ISO has published a new Technical Specification ISO/TS 19880-1, Gaseous hydrogen — fueling stations — Part 1: General requirements, which is a key document for the building of hydrogen fueling stations worldwide. (Earlier post.) The TS was prepared by ISO/TC 197 WG 24, led by co-conveners Jesse Schneider (BMW) and Guy Dang-Nhu (Air Liquide), along with Nick Hart (ITM Power) as secretary.
The scope of the TS covers the processes from hydrogen production and delivery to compression, storage and fueling of a hydrogen vehicle. It is essentially a safety and performance guideline for hydrogen stations, including the interface to fuel vehicles. The level of safety specified in the TS is similar to the level of safety of stations fueling with conventional fuels.
Ceres Power to demonstrate SOFC stack technology for EV range extender with Nissan; light commercial vehicle
June 28, 2016
UK-based Ceres Power Holdings, a spin-out from Imperial College, is leading a consortium that includes Nissan Motor Manufacturing (UK) Ltd and M-Solv to develop a compact, on-board solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) stack as a range extender for an electric light commercial vehicle (van). (Earlier post.)
£772,000 (US$1 million) in funding for the work comes from Innovate UK and The Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV); of that, £573,000 (US$755,000) is allocated to Ceres. The SOFC stack is based on Ceres Power’s unique SteelCell technology, which is able to work with a variety of high efficiency fuel types (including biofuels) applicable to the automotive sector.
DOE issues request for information on a Hydrogen Technology Showcase and Training (HyTeST) station
June 23, 2016
The US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Fuel Cell Technologies Office has issued a request for information (RFI) (DE-FOA-0001555) to obtain feedback from stakeholders regarding the construction and benefits of a National Hydrogen Technology Showcase and Training (HyTeST) station.
The facility would serve as a tool for research and development, testing, safety and demonstration training, and outreach for community and commercial early adopters, including station developers, owners, code officials, first responders, operators, investors, and insurers.
Johnson Matthey-led consortium to develop advanced automotive fuel cells in €7M EU-funded INSPIRE; BMW Group
June 21, 2016
A coalition led by Johnson Matthey is working to develop the next-generation of automotive fuel cell technology in the three-year, €7-million (US$7.9-million) EU-funded project INSPIRE (Integration Of Novel Stack Components For Performance, Improved Durability And Lower Cost). Consortium members include fuel cell component suppliers, academic institutions and the BMW Group.
INSPIRE’s stated objective is to develop advanced components and to integrate them into an automotive stack showing BOL (beginning of life) performance of 1.5 W/cm2 at 0.6V, less than 10% power degradation after 6,000 hours, and with a technical and economic assessment showing a cost of less than €50/kW (US$57/KW) at a 50,000 annual production scale.
€100M H2ME 2 launches: 2nd pan-European deployment of H2 refueling infrastructure and fuel cell vehicles
June 14, 2016
A second pan-European deployment of hydrogen refueling infrastructure, and passenger and commercial fuel cell electric vehicles has now launched. The six-year H2ME 2 project brings together 37 partners from across Europe.
H2ME 2 will include the deployment and operation of 1,230 fuel cell vehicles, the addition of 20 extra hydrogen-refueling stations (HRS) to the European network and will test the ability of electrolyzer-HRS to help balance the electrical grid. The project has been developed under the auspices of the Hydrogen Mobility Europe (H2ME) initiative and supported by the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) with funding from the European Union Horizon 2020 program.
Nissan developing electric vehicles powered by ethanol-fueled solid oxide fuel cells; commercialization in 2020
Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. announced that it is currently researching and developing a Solid Oxide Fuel-Cell (SOFC)-powered system using bio-ethanol as the on-board hydrogen source. The new e-Bio Fuel Cell system—a world-first for automotive use—features an an SOFC stack and an on-board reformer to convert 100% ethanol or ethanol-blended water (55% water, 45% ethanol) to hydrogen. SOFCs can utilize the reaction of multiple fuels, including ethanol and natural gas, with oxygen to produce electricity with high efficiency.
The e-Bio Fuel Cell system is suited for larger vehicles and longer ranges (~600 km, 373 miles) than battery-electric vehicles, Nissan said in a media briefing. The e-Bio Fuel Cell system can be run 24x7; features a quiet drive and short refueling time; is versatile, with ample power supply to support refrigerated delivery services; and will have running costs equivalent to that of EVs when using ethanol-water blends. Nissan said it planned commercialization for the technology in 2020.
Mercedes-Benz’ GLC F-CELL fuel-cell plug-in hybrid SUV coming in 2017
June 13, 2016
The GLC F-CELL features a ~9 kWh lithium-ion battery pack combined with a new fuel cell stack developed in Vancouver, Canada together with partner Ford in the Automotive Fuel Cell Cooperation (AFCC) joint venture. The combination of fuel cell and battery system—along with a further developed intelligent operating strategy—will offer a combined range of around 500 km (311 miles) in the NEDC.
Daimler investing >€7B in next 2 years in green tech; fuel cell plug-in, BEV architecture; 48V
At its TecDay event in Stuttgart, Daimler said it will invest more than €7 billion (US$7.9 billion) in green technologies in the next two years alone. Shortly, smart will be the only automaker worldwide to offer its entire model range both powered by internal combustion engines or operating on battery power. Mercedes-Benz will put the first fuel-cell-powered vehicle with plug-in technology into series production: the GLC F-CELL. In addition, the company is developing a dedicated vehicle architecture for battery-electric motor cars.
Following the company’s recent introduction of the new OM 654 diesel family (earlier post), Daimler will introduce a new family of gasoline engines in 2017, which will again set efficiency standards and will be the first ever to be equipped with a particulate filter (earlier post). The 48-volt on-board power supply will be introduced at the same time and starter-generators will become part of the standard specification. The 48V system will make fuel savings possible that previously were the exclusive domain of the high-voltage hybrid technology.
DOE issues request for information on medium- and heavy-duty fuel cell electric truck targets
June 10, 2016
The US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) has issued a request for information (RFI) (DE-FOA-0001600) to obtain feedback and opinions from truck operators, truck and storage tank manufacturers, fuel cell manufacturers, station equipment designers, and other related stakeholders on issues related to medium- and heavy-duty (MD and HD) fuel cell electric truck targets.
The MD/HD market spans multiple weight classes (i.e. class 3-8 or 10,000-80,000+ lbs.) and vocational uses (i.e. delivery van, tractor trailer, flatbed, etc.). Today, MD/HD trucks account for 28% of petroleum use in the US transportation sector, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Plug Power and HyGear partner to provide small-scale SMR hydrogen production technology to fuel cell system customers
Fuel cell system manufacturer Plug Power Inc. and HyGear, supplier of cost-effective industrial gases, are partnering to supply HyGear’s Hy.GEN hydrogen generation technology to Plug Power fuel cell customers globally. The first deployments are scheduled to be installed in the fourth quarter of 2016 at a new site for one of Plug Power’s existing customers.
Hy.GEN is based on small-scale steam methane reforming (SMR). The small scale on-site hydrogen generation systems range from 5 Nm3/h up to 100 Nm3/h, making them suitable for use at industrial sites and hydrogen filling stations. Hy.GEN systems allow the option to use biogas for a “green” hydrogen solution.
Materials Project releases trove of data to public; support for work on multivalent battery chemistries and electrolytes
The Materials Project, a Google-like database of material properties aimed at accelerating innovation (earlier post), has released an enormous trove of data to the public, giving scientists working on batteries, fuel cells, photovoltaics, thermoelectrics, and other advanced materials a powerful tool to explore new avenues of research.
Two sets of data were released: nearly 1,500 compounds investigated for multivalent intercalation electrodes and more than 21,000 organic molecules relevant for liquid electrolytes as well as a host of other research applications. Batteries with multivalent cathodes (which have multiple electrons per mobile ion available for charge transfer) are promising candidates for reducing cost and achieving higher energy density than that available with current lithium-ion technology. (Earlier post.)
ORNL team engineers 1st high-performance, two-way oxide catalyst; outperforms platinum; potential for new electrochemistry systems
May 28, 2016
A research team led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has created the first high-performance, two-way oxide catalyst and filed a patent application for the invention. The new bi-directional catalyst can outperform platinum in oxygen reduction and oxygen evolution reactions (ORR and OER). The accomplishment is reported in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
The discovery may guide the development of new material systems for electrochemistry. Energy storage devices, such as fuel cells and rechargeable batteries, convert chemical energy into electricity through a chemical reaction. Catalysts accelerate this process, making it more efficient. In particular, an oxygen reduction catalyst extracts electrons from oxygen molecules, while an oxygen evolution catalyst drives the reaction in the opposite direction. Catalytic reactions that proceed in both directions are required for charging and discharging of regenerative energy storage devices.
DOE awarding ~$4.75M to San Francisco and Strategic Analysis for hydrogen fuel cell vehicle and infrastructure projects
May 20, 2016
The US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) has selected the city of San Francisco for funding as the first Climate Action Champion to pursue hydrogen and fuel cell technologies for local transportation. (Earlier post.) In addition, new analysis projects by Strategic Analysis, Inc. focused on hydrogen fuel cell vehicle and infrastructure technologies will receive funding.
The nearly $4.75 million in funding for both efforts will go towards the development of education and outreach programs to increase the deployment of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) and hydrogen infrastructure, as well as provide detailed cost analyses for hydrogen fuel cell systems, hydrogen storage, and hydrogen production and delivery technologies.
Argonne rolls out updated version of AFLEET alternative fuels and advanced vehicles analysis tool
May 10, 2016
The US Department of Energy (DOE’s) Argonne National Laboratory is releasing an updated version of its AFLEET tool to reflect the latest advances in alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technologies and updated emissions data. Sponsored by the DOE Clean Cities program, AFLEET (Alternative Fuel Life-Cycle Environmental and Economic Transportation Tool) is a free, publicly-available tool that provides users with a roadmap for assessing which types of vehicles and fuels are right for them. The 2016 AFLEET Tool and user guide are available online. Although anyone can download and use the tool, AFLEET was designed for managers that purchase and maintain a fleet of vehicles.
The latest version includes, for the first time: gaseous hydrogen fuel cell vehicles; state-based (rather than national-based) fuel pricing, private station fuel pricing and fueling infrastructure costs. Updates to existing inputs include new light-duty vehicle costs; vehicle air pollutant emission factors derived from the Environmental Protection Agency’s emissions modeling system, MOVES 2014a; and petroleum use and greenhouse gas and relative air pollutant emissions from the 2015 GREET model, Argonne’s leading fuel life-cycle analysis model that is now in its twentieth year.
IHS: fuel cell vehicle production of > 70,000 annually by 2027; <0.1% of all vehicles produced; Europe to lead by 2021
May 08, 2016
A new report on fuel cell vehicles from IHS Automotive forecasts that global production of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) will reach more than 70,000 vehicles annually by 2027, as more automotive OEMs bring FCEVs to market. However,this will only represent less than 0.1% of all vehicles produced, according to IHS Automotive forecasts.
IHS expects that during the next 11 years, the number of available FCEV models will jump to 17 from the current three (Toyota Mirai, Hyundai ix35/Tucson and the Honda Clarity), as more OEMs add FCEVs to their product portfolios. In the near-term, most FCEV production is expected to be in Japan and Korea, but by 2021, European FCEV production will take the lead globally. This indicates a shift in regional momentum for FCEVs as OEMs look to meet emissions targets.
Loop Energy collaborates with CRRC to develop fuel cell electric drive systems for heavy-duty trucks
May 06, 2016
Canada-based Loop Energy (earlier post) has entered a collaboration agreement with Hunan CRRC Times Electric Vehicle Co., Ltd. (a subsidiary of CRRC Corporation Ltd.) to develop zero-emission power systems for heavy-duty transportation applications.
The power system to be developed for the initial project will combine Loop’s fuel cell technologies with CRRC’s leading electric drive train system to provide a better performing solution for heavy-duty trucks in comparison to traditional diesel engines.
ExxonMobil & FuelCell Energy pursue novel technology in carbon capture with carbonate fuel cells; initial projected 1/3 cost savings
May 05, 2016
Exxon Mobil Corporation and FuelCell Energy, Inc. are pursuing novel technology in power plant carbon dioxide capture through a new application of carbonate fuel cells. The two companies said the technology could substantially reduce costs and lead to a more economical pathway toward large-scale application globally.
Two years of comprehensive laboratory tests have demonstrated that the unique integration of two existing technologies—carbonate fuel cells and natural gas-fired power generation—captures carbon dioxide more efficiently than existing scrubber conventional capture technology. The potential breakthrough comes from an increase in electrical output using the fuel cells, which generate power, compared to a nearly equivalent decrease in electricity using conventional technology.
Roland Berger study outlines integrated vehicle and fuels roadmap for further abating transport GHG emissions 2030+ at lowest societal cost
April 30, 2016
A new study by consultancy Roland Berger defines an integrated roadmap for European road transport decarbonization to 2030 and beyond; the current regulatory framework for vehicle emissions, carbon intensity of fuels and use of renewable fuels covers only up to 2020/2021.
The study was commissioned by a coalition of fuel suppliers and automotive companies with a view to identifying a roadmap to 2030+ to identify GHG abatement options at the lowest cost to society. The coalition comprises BMW, Daimler, Honda, NEOT/St1, Neste, OMV, Shell, Toyota and Volkswagen. Among the key findings of the study were:
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.