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[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.]

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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$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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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).

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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.

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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.)

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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Intelligent Energy showcasing 100kW hydrogen fuel cell architecture at JSAE Automotive Engineering Exposition

May 15, 2015

Intelligent Energy will showcase its evaporatively-cooled 100kW automotive fuel cell architecture (earlier post) at the JSAE Automotive Engineering Exposition in Japan, 20-22 May.

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.

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Toyota pops the hood on the technology of the fuel cell Mirai at SAE World Congress

April 29, 2015

The new fuel cell stack in Mirai increases the current density by a factor of 2.4 compared to the conventional FC stack. Konno et al. Click to enlarge.

At SAE 2015 World Congress last week, Toyota presented a set of four technical papers describing some of the technology innovations used in its production fuel cell hybrid electric vehicle Mirai (earlier post). The papers provide technical details on the high performance fuel-cell (FC) stack; specific insights into FC separator, and stack manifold; the newly developed boost converter; and the new high-pressure hydrogen storage system with innovative carbon fiber windings.

The Toyota papers were part of a larger World Congress technical session on practical hydrogen fuel cell technology: PFL 720, Advances in Fuel Cell Vehicle Applications, chaired by Jesse Schneider of BMW.

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MIT and Moscow State University collaborating on advanced batteries, metal-air batteries and reversible fuel/electrolysis cells

April 12, 2015

Researchers at the Skoltech Center for Electrochemical Energy Storage (CEES), a partnership between the MIT Materials Processing Center and Lomonosov Moscow State University, are focusing on the development of higher capacity batteries. CEES is a Center for Research, Education and Innovation (CREI) under the umbrella of the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech).

CEES has three main research thrusts: the development of advanced lithium-ion and multivalent ion batteries; the development of rechargeable metal-air batteries; and Development of reversible low and elevated temperature fuel cells

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Millbrook joins APC-funded consortium to develop fuel cell range-extended electric LCVs

March 30, 2015

Millbrook, one of Europe’s leading independent test and technology centers for vehicles and vehicle systems, will join a UK industry consortium to develop a new class of light commercial vehicle (LCV) combining fuel cell technology with battery electric vehicles to provide significantly improved range and rapid refueling. The consortium, led by Intelligent Energy (earlier post), will receive a £6.3-million ($9.3-million) grant from the UK’s Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) for the £12.7-million ($19-million) project. The other partners are Frost Electronics, Frost EV, CENEX, British Gas and DHL.

The three-year project will develop validated systems and vehicle conversion expertise ready for volume manufacture. The goal is also to provide fleet operators with a solution that enables vehicle operation for extended periods while being emissions-free at the tailpipe.

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California Energy Commission awards $24.9M to 9 medium- and heavy-duty advanced truck demo projects

March 25, 2015

The California Energy Commissions has selected 9 projects to receive a combined $24,873,512 in proposed funding for cost share in the field demonstration of advanced medium- and heavy-duty on-road vehicle technologies—primarily battery electric and fuel cell technology—that may become commercially available in California. The match amount for the nine projects is $17,212,984. The solicitation (PON-14-605) was under the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP).

Nineteen other projects also passed the screening. However, the Energy Commission started with the highest score and began determining the awards, descending through the list of finalists until the money available (the $24,873,512) ran out. Five applications did not pass. The nine projects receiving funding are:

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DOE 2015 SBIR/STTR Phase 2 Release 1 awards include 3 hydrogen projects

March 24, 2015

The US Department of Energy announced 94 2015 Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) Phase 2 Release 1 Awards, including three Office of Science projects focusing on hydrogen production from electrolysis and hydrogen systems supporting fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). The 94 projects will receive about $96 million in total funding.

DOE’s key hydrogen objectives are to reduce the cost of producing and delivering hydrogen to less than $4 per gallon of gasoline equivalent (gge) to enable fuel cell vehicles to be competitive with gasoline vehicles. Key fuel cell objectives are to reduce fuel cell system cost to $40/kW and improve durability to 5,000 hours (equivalent to 150,000 miles of driving) for automotive fuel cell systems by 2020.

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New Rutgers non-noble metal catalyst for hydrogen evolution performs as well as Pt in both acid and base

March 22, 2015

Researchers at Rutgers University have developed a new noble metal-free catalyst—Ni5P4 (nickel-5 phosphide-4)—performing on par with platinum for the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) in both strong acid and base. The development, the team concludes in a paper published in the RSC journal Energy & Environmental Science, can offer a key step towards industrially relevant electrolyzers competing with conventional H2 sources.

Currently, renewable hydrogen may be produced from water by electrolysis with either low efficiency alkaline electrolyzers that suffer 50–65% losses, or by more efficient acidic electrolyzers using expensive rare platinum group metal catalysts (Pt). Consequently, the authors noted, research has focused on developing alternative, cheap, and robust catalysts made from earth-abundant elements.

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Daimler putting ~€1B into Stuttgart-Untertürkheim to make it the center of competence for efficient engines, hybrid powertrains and fuel cell system production

March 21, 2015

Daimler is investing about €1 billion (US$1.07 billion) in the Mercedes-Benz plant in Stuttgart-Untertürkheim and is transforming it into a center of competence for highly efficient engines, hybrid powertrains and the production of fuel cell systems.

From 1 June, Untertürkheim will assume responsibility for a facility in Nabern in the greater Stuttgart area where assembly of the fuel cell system will take place. The Nabern facility will remain the center of competence for the overall development of fuel cell drive systems under the direction of Daimler AG.

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Obama orders GHG cuts for Federal Agencies; 50% of all new agency vehicles to be ZEV or PHEV by 2025

March 19, 2015

President Obama today signed a wide-ranging executive order mandating cuts in greenhouse gas emissions for Federal agencies. Through more efficient Federal operations, agency direct greenhouse gas emissions can be cut by at least 40% over the next decade, the order suggests. The order has operational directives for building and fleet management, electricity generation, water use, waste management and purchasing.

As an initial outcome, within 90 days the head of each agency sis to propose to the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) percentage reduction targets for agency-wide reductions of scope 1 and 2 and scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions in absolute terms by the end of fiscal year 2025 relative to a fiscal year 2008 baseline.

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Northwestern-led team finds slightly imperfect graphene can serve as a highly selective proton separation membrane

March 18, 2015

Researchers from Northwestern University, together with collaborators from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the University of Virginia, the University of Minnesota, Pennsylvania State University and the University of Puerto Rico, have discovered that protons can transfer easily through graphene—conventionally thought to be unfit for proton transfer absent nanoscale holes or dopants—through rare, naturally occurring atomic defects.

In an open access paper published in the journal Nature Communications, the researchers reported that a slightly imperfect graphene membrane’s speed and selectivity are much better than that of conventional proton separation membranes, offering engineers a new and simpler mechanism for fuel cell design.

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Intelligent Energy introduces new high performance 100kW automotive fuel cell architecture

March 12, 2015

Intelligent Energy is expanding its PEM fuel cell offerings with a new 100 kW automotive fuel cell architecture. Designed to deliver primary motive power within an advanced electric driveline, the 100 kW fuel cell architecture and core technology will be available to vehicle manufacturers through technology licensing programs and joint development agreements.

The 100 kW platform takes full advantage of Intelligent Energy’s stack technology, which offers leading power density of 3.5 kW/l (volumetric) and 3.0 kW/kg (gravimetric), while being engineered for low cost, high volume series production. As points of comparison, the US Department of Energy (DOE) 2020 technical targets for an automotive fuel cell stack are 2.5 kW/l and 2 kW/kg. Toyota says that its new fuel cell stack in the Mirai offers 3.1 kW/l (2.2 times higher than that of the previous Toyota FCHV-adv limited-lease model) and 2.0 kW/kg. (Earlier post.)

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DOE to award up to $35M to advance fuel cell and hydrogen technologies; fuel cell range extenders

March 03, 2015

The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced (DOE-FOA-0001224) up to $35 million in available funding 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). (Earlier post.)

As FCEVs become increasingly commercially available, the Energy Department is focused on reducing the costs and increasing technical advancements of critical hydrogen infrastructure including production, delivery, and storage. This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) covers a broad spectrum of the Fuel Cell Technology Office (FCTO) portfolio with areas of interest ranging from research and development (R&D) to demonstration and deployment projects.

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Rice graphene aerogel catalyst doped with boron and nitrogen outperform platinum in fuel cell ORR

March 02, 2015

Graphene nanoribbons formed into a three-dimensional aerogel and doped with boron and nitrogen (3D BNC NRs) exhibit the highest onset and half-wave potentials among the reported metal-free catalysts for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) in alkaline fuel cells, and show superior performance compared to commercial Pt/C catalyst, according to a new study by Rice University researchers.

A team led by materials scientist Pulickel Ajayan and chemist James Tour made metal-free aerogels from graphene nanoribbons and various levels of boron and nitrogen to test their electrochemical properties. In research reported in the ACS journal Chemistry of Materials, they reported that versions with about 10 atom % boron and nitrogen were most efficient in catalyzing the ORR.

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Researchers demonstrate high performance and stability of non-precious metal ORR catalysts in acidic PEM fuel cells

March 01, 2015

Researchers at Case Western University led by Prof. Liming Dai have demonstrated that rationally designed, metal-free, nitrogen-doped carbon nanotubes and their graphene composites exhibit significantly better long-term operational stabilities and comparable gravimetric power densities with respect to the best non-precious metal catalyst (NPMC) in acidic polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells.

The researchers said that this work, which advances their earlier work on high- performance NPMCs for fuel cells (e.g., earlier post, earlier post), represents a major breakthrough in removing the bottlenecks to translate low-cost, metal-free, carbon-based ORR (oxygen reduction reaction) catalysts to commercial reality in affordable and durable fuel cells. An open-access paper on their work appears in the online journal Science Advances (an offspring of the journal Science).

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Cal Energy Commission adopts report outlining how state transforming transportation system to meet climate goals

February 26, 2015

The California Energy Commission adopted its 2014 Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR) Update, which outlines, among many things, how the state is working to transform the transportation system to zero- and near-zero technologies and fuels to meet its climate and clean air goals. This report highlights the importance of incentives in helping speed this transition and specifically explores the role Assembly Bill 8, which makes more than $2 billion available for public investment, can play in helping to achieve this progress.

The Energy Commission also approved almost $16 million in research grants to help develop the next generation of energy efficient technologies for commercial and residential buildings; $11 million for projects to convert feedstock and waste into biofuels; and about $900,000 for natural gas innovations.

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DOE FCTO selects 11 fuel cell incubator projects for up to $10M in awards; exploring alkaline exchange membrane FCs

The US Department of Energy (DOE) Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) has selected 11 projects to receive up to $10 million in funding through the fuel cell technology incubator FOA (earlier post) in support of innovations in fuel cell and hydrogen fuel technologies. The intention of these selections is to identify high-impact technologies that are not already addressed in FCTO’s strategic plan or mainstream project portfolio.

The selected projects will support research and development efforts to address critical challenges and barriers for hydrogen and fuel cell technology development. The projects selected have the potential significantly to lower the cost or improve the performance, durability, or efficiency of fuel cells or hydrogen fuel production. For example, in contrast to industry’s primary focus, which is polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFC), selected projects include a higher risk, completely different approach—alkaline exchange membrane fuel cells (AEMFC)—that can significantly reduce or even eliminate the need for expensive platinum as a catalyst in the long term. Such high-risk but high-impact potential projects complement the current FCTO portfolio.

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French Post Office and Renault Trucks testing electric truck with fuel cell range extender

February 24, 2015

Maxity Electric with fuel cell range extender. Click to enlarge.

Renault Trucks and the French Post Office (La Poste) will introduce on an experimental basis, and as a first in Europe, an electric truck equipped with a hydrogen-powered range extender. The range-extended 4.5-ton Maxity Electric model doubles th electric truck range to 200 kilometers (124 miles) and will be tested for one year under actual operating conditions in the city Dole (Jura Department), allowing Renault Trucks to explore all potential avenues of hydrogen technology under actual operating conditions.

For La Poste, which at present owns the world's largest fleet of electric vehicles, this experiment is part of a continuous effort underway to extend the range of its fleet. For nearly a year, in the Franche-Comté Region, the Post Office has been testing, during carriers’ collection and distribution of mail and packages, Renault Kangoo Z.E. mail delivery vehicles with fuel cell range extenders. (Earlier post.)

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Making the Mirai fuel cell vehicle

In Japan, Toyota Motor held a production ceremony at the Motomachi Plant, which first began production in 1959, to mark the production of the Mirai fuel cell vehicle, which the company launched in November 2014, and began selling in Japan in December 2014. (Earlier post.)

Motomachi has been home to some of Toyota’s most notable models, including the Publica, Corona, Cresta, Soarer, Supra, RAV4, and the Lexus LFA supercar. The former “LFA Works”—where craftspeople hand-built each of the 500 series limited Lexus supercars—is now the home of the Mirai. Toyota released a set of 5 short videos giving an overview of Mirai production, which delivers an estimated 3 units per day.

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NEESC releases 2015 hydrogen & fuel cell development plans for eight Northeastern states; power generation and transportation

February 20, 2015

The Northeast Electrochemical Energy Storage Cluster (NEESC), administered by Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology Inc. (CCAT), released the 2015 Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Development Plans for each of the eight states in the Northeast US. The state-specific plans focus on hydrogen and fuel cell applications that are both technically and economically viable, and recommend specific goals for stationary and transportation hydrogen fuel cell deployment to meet economic, environmental, and energy needs.

Cumulative goals for the Northeast states include approximately 1,300 megawatts of installed stationary fuel cell capacity; 10,800 fuel cell electric vehicles; 640 fuel cell powered buses; and 110 hydrogen refueling stations to support the fuel cell electric vehicles and buses.

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DOE workshop report on common opportunities and challenges in expanding use of H2 and natural gas vehicles

Hydrogen and natural gas share a number of common entry to market barriers. Image from DOE EERE Fuel Cell Technologies Office. Click to enlarge.

Sandia National Laboratories, supported by the DOE’s Vehicle Technologies and Fuel Cell Technologies Offices, recently released the workshop report “Transitioning the Transportation Sector: Exploring the Intersection of Hydrogen Fuel Cell and Natural Gas Vehicles.”

Held in September 2014, the workshop considered common opportunities and challenges in expanding the use of hydrogen and natural gas as transportation fuels. Organized by Sandia, the American Gas Association, and Toyota, the workshop included participants from the auto industry, freight delivery fleets, gas suppliers, gas storage developers, utilities, academia, industry associations, national laboratories, and federal and state governments.

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Toyota Central R&D exploring controlling catalysts at the quantum level for optimized performance and reduced costs

February 17, 2015

The Frontier Research Center (FRC) at Toyota Central R&D Labs in Japan is investigating the development of catalysts controlled at the quantum level. This level of control should result in an an extreme reduction of precious metal usage in automotive exhaust catalysts and/or fuel cells, said Dr. Yoshihide Watanabe, program manager of the Quantum Controlled Catalysis Program at the FRC.

Metal cluster chemistry (a cluster is a group of atoms or molecules formed by interactions varying in strength from very weak to strong) has been developing rapidly since the mid-20th century. Some naturally occurring clusters are known to be involved in catalytic reactions, and there is great interest in the potential use of synthetic clusters in industrial applications such as catalysis.

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Update on the GM-Honda collaboration on Gen 2 Fuel Cell Propulsion System

Overview and partitioning of the GM-Honda collaboration on fuel cell propulsion. Click to enlarge.

Over the past two years, GM and Honda have been collaborating on next-generation fuel cell and hydrogen storage systems, aiming at commercialization in the 2020 time frame. (Earlier post.) At the SAE 2015 Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Technologies Symposium in Los Angeles last week, Andrew Bosco, Chief Engineer for fuel cell engineering at GM, provided an progress update on the joint Gen 2 Fuel Cell Propulsion System. (At the SAE 2014 Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Technologies Symposium, Mark Mathias, Director, Fuel Cell R&D for GM, had also provided an update on the collaboration. Earlier post.)

As the two companies have emphasized from the beginning, Bosco reinforced that the current scope of the collaboration focuses on reducing the high cost of fuel cell specific systems: i.e., the fuel cell stack; balance of plant components; and hydrogen storage system (HSS). Development on the battery (regenerative ESS), fuel cell power electronics (FCPE); and electric traction system (ETS) is leveraging know-how and components from hybrids and battery-electric vehicle work.

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Volkswagen Group acquires Ballard automotive fuel cell patent portfolio, extends engineering services contract in US$80+ million deal

February 11, 2015

Ballard Power Systems has entered into a Technology Solutions transaction with Volkswagen Group for an aggregate amount of approximately US$80 million for the transfer of certain automotive-related fuel cell intellectual property (IP) and a two-year extension of an engineering services contract. (Earlier post.)

Ballard will transfer the automotive-related portion of fuel cell IP assets previously acquired from United Technologies Corporation in return for payments from Volkswagen Group totaling US$50 million, a majority of which is expected to be received at the closing of the transaction during the current quarter. The remainder is expected to be received in early 2016.

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FTA awarding $55M to 10 projects deploying battery-electric and fuel-cell buses

February 06, 2015

The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has selected 10 projects that will receive a share of $55 million in competitive grants that will help put a new generation of zero-emission buses on the road. Funding is provided through FTA’s Low or No Emission Vehicle Deployment Program (LoNo). (Earlier post.)

Established under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), the LoNo program focuses on deploying the cleanest and most energy-efficient US-made transit buses designed to cut CO2 and criteria pollutant emissions. Grants from the LoNo program help transit agencies integrate more of these advanced buses into their fleets. The selected projects are:

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President’s 2016 Budget requests $29.9B for DOE; 9% boost over FY 2015 enacted; $793M (2.7%) for sustainable transportation

February 03, 2015

President Barack Obama’s 2016 Budget requests $29.9 billion for the US Department of Energy (DOE). The FY 2016 DOE Budget Request represents a 9% increase ($2.5 billion) above the FY 2015 enacted level.

42% of the DOE Budget Request ($12.6 billion) is for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), an increase of $1.2 billion over the FY 2015 Enacted level, to maintain a safe, secure, and effective nuclear weapons stockpile in the absence of nuclear testing and manage the research, development, and production activities and associated infrastructure maintenance and modernization needed to meet national nuclear security requirements.

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Toyota beginning on-road testing of new SiC power semiconductor technology; hybrid Camry and fuel cell bus

January 29, 2015

SiC PCU under the hood of the Camry hybrid test vehicle. Click to enlarge.

Toyota will begin the on-road testing of silicon carbide (SiC) power semiconductors in Japan this year, using a Camry hybrid prototype and a fuel cell bus. The tests will evaluate the performance of the SiC technology, which could lead to significant efficiency improvements in hybrids and other electric-drive vehicles. (Earlier post.)

Power semiconductors are found in power control units (PCUs), which are used to control motor drive power in hybrids and other vehicles with electric powertrains. PCUs play a crucial role in the use of electricity, supplying battery power to the motors during operation and recharging the battery using energy recovered during deceleration. At present, power semiconductors account for approximately 20% of a vehicle’s total electrical losses; raising the efficiency of the power semiconductors is a promising way to increase powertrain efficiency.

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Van Hool wins EU funding for 21 fuel cell buses; powered by Ballard FCvelocity-HD7 modules

Van Hool N.V. has signed a grant agreement with the EU Hydrogen Fuel Cell Joint Undertaking for deployment of 21 fuel cell buses in Europe as part of the 3Emotion Program. Ballard Power Systems and Van Hool, partners in the deployment of numerous fuel cell buses in Europe (earlier post), are in the process of finalizing an equipment supply agreement (ESA) for the provision by Ballard of 21 next-generation fuel cell power modules for the buses. Ballard anticipates receipt of purchase orders under the ESA that will lead to delivery of these fuel cell modules to Van Hool in 2015 and 2016.

Van Hool is a Belgium-based independent bus, coach and industrial vehicle OEM. There are currently 27 Van Hool fuel cell buses, powered by Ballard modules, in public transit operation. Ballard holds an estimated 80% share of the European market for fuel cell bus modules.

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E3 study finds low-carbon gas fuels option for meeting Calif GHG reduction goals

January 28, 2015

A new study by Energy Environmental Economics (E3) consulting suggests that low-carbon gas fuels are a viable option for meeting California’s greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals and can simultaneously help achieve pollution emission reduction targets.

Low-carbon gas fuels or “decarbonized gas” refers to gaseous fuels with a net-zero, or very low, greenhouse gas impact on the climate. These include fuels such as biogas, hydrogen and renewable synthetic gases produced with low lifecycle GHG emission approaches.

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Symbio FCell delivers first 5 Kangoo ZE electric utilities with fuel cell range extenders in La Manche

January 26, 2015

Symbio FCell has delivered the first five Renault Kangoo ZE Light commercial vehicles (LCVs) powered by its hydrogen Fuel Cell Range-Extender, as part of a full fleet project led by the Conseil Général de la Manche which will ultimately deploy 40 vehicles. (Earlier post.) La Manche is a département in West Normandy, France.

The Renault Kangoo ZE-H2 electric utility vehicles are equipped with the Symbio FCell Range-Extender. This technology recharges the battery when it drops below a certain level and permits the vehicle to be refueled with 1.8 kg of hydrogen, 1kg of which provides a range of more than 100 km (62 miles); the range-extender therefore almost doubles the daily range of battery powered vehicles, a significant improvement that makes hydrogen-powered electric vehicles more competitive in the automotive markets.

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Honda brings FCV Concept to N. America, promises new EV and PHEV models by 2018

January 13, 2015

Honda staged the North American debut of the Honda FCV fuel cell vehicle at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS); the company also announced US availability for the FCV in 2016. (Earlier post.)

Honda also used the venue to announce that it will offer several next-generation, advanced powertrain vehicles, including a new battery-electric model and plug-in hybrid model by 2018. Additionally, Honda said it plans further application of its two- and three-motor hybrid systems in the years to come. Honda also announced plans to introduce new VTEC Turbo engines to be built in Ohio and debut later in 2015.

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New Toyota/Hino fuel cell bus uses fuel cell system from Mirai

January 08, 2015

Toyota fuel cell bus. Click to enlarge.

Toyota Motor Corporation and Hino Motors, Ltd. have built a new version of their fuel cell bus. The new bus was developed jointly by Toyota and Hino based on a Hino hybrid non-step route bus and is equipped with the Toyota Fuel Cell System developed for the Mirai fuel cell vehicle. (Earlier post.)

The two companies leveraged their accumulated specialized technologies and expertise, with Toyota being responsible for development of the Toyota Fuel Cell System, while Hino handled development of the bus body, including the chassis. The new fuel cell bus is scheduled to service the Toyota Oiden bus route in Toyota City from 9 January.

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ARPA-E issues $125M open solicitation for energy R&D; transportation and stationary applications

January 07, 2015

The US Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) has issued a $125-million open Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA). OPEN 2015 (DOE-FOA-0001261) will support the development of potentially disruptive new technologies in all areas of energy research and development, for both transportation and stationary applications.

OPEN 2015 is the third open funding solicitation issued by the agency. Open solicitations ensure that ARPA-E does not miss opportunities to support potentially transformational projects outside the scope of existing ARPA-E programs. The projects selected under OPEN 2015 will pursue novel approaches to energy innovation and support the development of potentially disruptive new technologies across the full spectrum of energy applications.

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Mercedes-Benz unveils self-driving fuel cell hybrid luxury concept at CES; novel body structures

January 06, 2015

In a world premiere, Mercedes-Benz unveiled the self-driving fuel cell hybrid electric F 015 Luxury in Motion concept at the CES. In addition to its autonomous driving capability, a key aspect of the research vehicle is the continuous exchange of information between vehicle, passengers, and the outside world.

The drive system is based on the pioneering F-CELL PLUG-IN HYBRID system seen in the F 125! research vehicle from 2011 (earlier post), and combines on-board generation of electricity with an exceptionally powerful and compact high-voltage battery. The pressure tank made from CFRP is designed to store the hydrogen. (The drive system in the 2011 F 125!, which generated a continuous output of 170 kW (231 hp) and a peak output of 230 kW (313 hp), featured the latest Mercedes-Benz stack, a 10 kWh Li-sulfur battery, four wheel motors and structure-integrated hydrogen storage with MOFs.)

The stack in the F 125!, which is further improved with respect to performance, consumption and practical suitability, provides the power for four electric motors installed near the wheels. The modular e4MATIC system, which also uses improved drive components from the SLS AMG E-CELL, . This accelerates the F 125! to 100 km/h in 4.9 seconds, with a top speed of 220 km/h (137 mph).

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Toyota inviting royalty-free use of ~5,680 hydrogen fuel cell patents

January 05, 2015

At CES, Toyota announced that it will invite royalty-free use of approximately 5,680 fuel cell related patents held globally, including critical technologies developed for the new Toyota Mirai. The list includes approximately 1,970 patents related to fuel cell stacks, 290 associated with high-pressure hydrogen tanks, 3,350 related to fuel cell system software control and 70 patents related to hydrogen production and supply.

The announcement covers only fuel cell-related patents wholly owned by Toyota. Patents related to fuel cell vehicles will be available for royalty-free licenses until the end of 2020. Patents for hydrogen production and supply will remain open for an unlimited duration. As part of licensing agreements, Toyota will request, but will not require, that other companies share their fuel cell-related patents with Toyota for similar royalty-free use.

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DOE to award up to $2M to 3 projects for hydrogen and fuel cell supply chain and manufacturing analysis

December 24, 2014

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has selected three projects to receive up to $2 million in new funding for analysis of the hydrogen and fuel cells domestic supply chain and manufacturing competitiveness. Funded in part by the Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative, this funding opportunity supports the Department’s broader effort to boost US competitiveness in the manufacturing sector.

The projects selected will support activities that facilitate the development and expansion of the domestic supply chain of components and systems necessary for the manufacturing and scale-up of hydrogen and fuel cell systems in the United States. Awardees will also conduct competitive analysis of global hydrogen and fuel cell manufacturing aimed at quantifying trade patterns and identifying key drivers of US competitiveness.

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Sandia Labs and Linde partner to expand hydrogen fueling network; performance-based design for stations

December 17, 2014

New Linde hydrogen station. Click to enlarge.

Sandia National Laboratories and Linde LLC have signed an umbrella Cooperative Research & Development Agreement (CRADA) they expect to accelerate the development of low-carbon energy and industrial technologies, beginning with hydrogen and fuel cells.

The CRADA will begin with two new research and development projects to accelerate the expansion of hydrogen fueling stations to continue to support the market growth of fuel cell electric vehicles now emerging from the major auto manufacturers. The first will focus on performance-based design for hydrogen stations. The second focuses on safety aspects of the NFPA code.

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Fujitsu launches hydrogen station data management service to support spread of fuel-cell vehicles

December 16, 2014

In conjunction with the start of sales of Toyota’s Mirai fuel cell vehicle in Japan (earlier post), Fujitsu launched a hydrogen station data management service, the first in Japan, enabling people to access real-time information on the location and hours of operation of hydrogen stations, both stationary and mobile.

The service uses the Fujitsu Intelligent Society Solution SPATIOWL cloud service to integrate information on the location of hydrogen stations and operating hours input by registered hydrogen suppliers. Information on the hydrogen stations is then transmitted in real time by car companies, through their data centers, to the car navigation systems and smartphones of fuel-cell vehicle users.

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Electrochemical Society & Toyota announce ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship for projects in green energy technology

ECS, in partnership with the Toyota Research Institute of North American (TRINA), a division of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc. (TEMA), has launched the ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship and is requesting proposals from young professors and scholars pursuing innovative electrochemical research in green energy technology.

The purpose of the ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship is to encourage young professors and scholars to pursue research in green energy technology that may promote the development of next-generation vehicles capable of utilizing alternative fuels. Electrochemical research has already informed the development and improvement of innovative batteries, electrocatalysts, photovoltaics and fuel cells. Through this fellowship, ECS and TRINA hope to see more innovative and unconventional technologies borne from electrochemical research.

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New anode for direct ethanol fuel cells enables peak power and current densities approaching H2 PEM fuel cells

December 12, 2014

A team of researchers in Italy has developed a new palladium-doped anode for direct alcohol fuel cells that produces peak power and current densities (using ethanol at 80 °C) approaching the output of hydrogen-fed proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs). A paper on their work is published in the RSC journal ChemSusChem.

Direct alcohol fuel cells (DAFCs), which belong to the family of alkaline fuel cells, are electrochemical devices that continuously convert the chemical energy of an alcohol fuel to electricity. Ethanol is becoming a desirable target fuel for use in DAFCs (i.e., a DEFC) because it offers higher energy density compared to methanol; less crossover rate (from the anode to cathode); and can be produced from agriculture and biomass products. In a 2006 paper (Mann et al.), researchers at Princeton observed that:

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DOE issues FY 2015 SBIR/STTR Release 2 funding opportunity, including hydrogen fuel cells, electric drive batteries

December 09, 2014

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has issued its FY 2015 Phase I Release 2 Funding Opportunity Announcement (DE-FOA-0001227) for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs. Technical topics for this FOA—which span the range of DOE interests from fossil to nuclear to renewable and low-carbon energies—include two hydrogen- and fuel-cell-related topics: fuel cell-battery electric hybrid trucks and in-line quality control devices for polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells.

Also included are electric drive vehicle batteries, power electronics, on-board reformers, and advanced crank and ignition mechanisms for combustion engines.

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Univ. of Manchester team finds monolayer graphene permeable to protons; implications for PEM fuel cell and other hydrogen technologies

November 28, 2014

Researchers at the University of Manchester in the UK have found that monolayers of graphene—which, as a perfect monolayer is impermeable to all gases and liquids—and its sister material boron nitride (BN) are highly permeable to protons, especially at elevated temperatures and if the films are covered with catalytic nanoparticles such as platinum. The finding could have a significant impact on proton exchange membrane fuel cell technologies and other hydrogen-based technologies.

The discovery is reported in the journal Nature by an international team led by Professor Sir Andre Geim, who, with Professor Sir Kostya Novoselov succeeded in producing, isolating, identifying and characterizing graphene in 2004 at the University of Manchester, an achievement for which the pair won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010. (Graphene had been studied theoretically as far back as 1947; professors Geim and Novoselov were the first to fabricate and to study the material.)

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Researchers develop rechargeable hybrid-seawater fuel cell; highly energy density, stable cycling

November 24, 2014

Schematic illustration of the designed hybrid-seawater fuel cell and a schematic diagram at the charged–discharged state. Kim et al. Click to enlarge.

Researchers from Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) in Korea and Karlsruher Institute of Technology in Germany have developed a novel energy conversion and storage system using seawater as a cathode. As described in an open access paper in the journal NPG Asia Materials, the system is an intermediate between a battery and a fuel cell, and is accordingly referred to as a hybrid fuel cell.

The circulating seawater in the open-cathode system results in a continuous supply of sodium ions, endowing the system with superior cycling stability that allows the application of various alternative anodes to sodium metal by compensating for irreversible charge losses. Hard carbon and Sn-C nanocomposite electrodes were successfully applied as anode materials, yielding highly stable cycling performance and reversible capacities exceeding 110 mAh g−1 and 300 mAh g−1, respectively.

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Lux Research: fuel cell vehicles lag other drivetrains in terms of cost of ownership; ICE and HEV lowest cost

Based on an analysis of various cost of ownership scenarios for various drivetrains, including internal combustion engine (ICE) gasoline and diesel; hybrid (HEV); battery-electric (EV); plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV); and fuel cell vehicles, Lux Research concludes that fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) are “solidly in a laggard position.

The Lux analysts ran scenarios associated with operation and ownership, broken out into fuel cost alone; fuel cost plus operation, but excluding purchase or lease; and fuel cost plus operation, including purchase or lease (total ownership cost). When looking at fuel cost only, EVs lead the way due to the relatively low price of electricity, followed by various types of hybrids (HEVs and PHEVs). Fuel cell vehicles can match EV fuel costs at $3/kg dispensed H2—a price highly unlikely in near-term, Lux said.

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Quick drive of the Passat HyMotion hydrogen fuel cell hybrid

November 20, 2014

Volkswagen unveiled the Golf Sportwagen HyMotion hydrogen fuel cell hybrid research vehicle demonstrator yesterday at the Los Angeles Auto Show (earlier post). Volkswagen has also built several research vehicles based on the US version of the Passat using the same hydrogen drivetrain components as fitted in the Golf SportWagen HyMotion.

The fleet of Passat HyMotion vehicles is currently being tested on the streets of California. In addition, Volkswagen brought a pair of the hydrogen Passats to the Los Angeles Auto Show for test drives (and Audi brought a pair of its A7 Sportback h-tron hydrogen fuel cell plug-in hybrids for drives, as well.)

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Volkswagen Group shows 3 hydrogen fuel cell concepts at LA Show: Audi A7 Sportback h-tron; Golf Sportwagen HyMotion; Passat HyMotion

Audi A7 Sportback h-tron. Click to enlarge.

Audi and Volkswagen, both members of the Volkswagen Group, unveiled three hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle demonstrators at the Los Angeles Auto Show: the sporty Audi A7 Sportback h-tron quattro, a plug-in fuel-cell electric hybrid featuring permanent all-wheel drive and the Golf Sportwagen HyMotion, a fuel-cell hybrid, both received a formal introduction in the companies’ press conferences. Further, Volkswagen brought two Passat HyMotion demonstrators for media drives. (The Golf and Passat models have identical hydrogen powertrains and control software.)

All three incorporate a fourth-generation, 100 kW LT PEM (Low Temperature Proton Exchange Membrane) fuel cell stack developed in-house by Volkswagen Group Research at the Volkswagen Technology Center for Electric Traction. (Volkswagen is tapping some expertise from Ballard engineers under a long-term services contract, earlier post.) The Group is already at work on its fifth-generation version, said Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Board of Management for Technical Development at Audi, during a fuel cell technology workshop held at the LA show, and may be ready to talk about that technology by the end of next year.

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Toyota FCV Mirai launches in LA; initial TFCS specs; $57,500 or $499 lease; leaning on Prius analogy

November 18, 2014

Mirai. Click to enlarge.

In addition to the vehicle’s introduction in Japan, Toyota launched the Mirai—a four-door, mid-size fuel cell sedan with performance that fully competes with traditional internal combustion engines—in Los Angeles on the eve of the Los Angeles Auto Show. The hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle re-fuels in 3–5 minutes, travels up to 300 miles (482 km) on a full tank, and will be available to customers in California beginning in fall 2015. Additional markets will follow, tracking the expansion of a convenient hydrogen refueling infrastructure.

The Mirai uses the Toyota Fuel Cell System (TFCS), which features both fuel cell technology and hybrid technology, and includes proprietary Toyota-developed components including the fuel cell (FC) Stack, FC boost converter, and high-pressure hydrogen tanks. The TFCS is more energy-efficient than internal combustion engines and emits no CO2 or substances of concern (SOCs) when driven. The system accelerates Mirai from 0–60 in 9.0 seconds and delivers a passing time of 3 seconds from 25–40 mph. Fuel consumption figures are to come.

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Honda FCV Concept makes world debut in Japan; Power Exporter concept

November 17, 2014

The Honda FCV Concept, Honda’s latest fuel-cell vehicle concept, made its world debut today in Japan. The Honda FCV Concept showcases the styling evolution of Honda’s fuel-cell vehicle anticipated to launch in Japan by March of 2016, followed by the US and Europe. Honda also unveiled the Honda Power Exporter Concept, a concept model for an external power feeding device that enables AC power output from the FCV with maximum output of 9 kW.

Honda had introduced an earlier version, the FCEV concept, at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show. (Earlier post.) The Honda FCV Concept features a low and wide aerodynamic body with clean character lines. The interior takes advantage of new powertrain packaging efficiencies delivering more passenger space than its predecessor, the FCX Clarity (earlier post), including seating for up to five people.

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Audi in new e-fuels project: synthetic diesel from water, air-captured CO2 and green electricity; “Blue Crude”

November 14, 2014

Audi is active in the development of CO2-neutral, synthetic fuels; the company already has projects underway with Joule in the US for the development and testing of synthetic ethanol and synthetic diesel (earlier post); has an e-gas project underway in Werlte, Germany (earlier post); and has a new partnership with Global Bioenergies on bio-isooctane (bio-gasoline) (earlier post).

Audi’s latest e-fuels project is participation in a a pilot plant project in Dresden that produces diesel fuel from water, CO2 and green electricity. Audi and project partners including Climeworks and sunfire (earlier post) opened the plant today. The project combines two innovative technologies in this project, which is funded in part by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research and was preceded by a two-year research and preparation phase: direct capture of CO2 from ambient air and a power‑to‑liquid process for the production of synthetic fuel. Audi is the exclusive partner in the automotive industry.

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Toshiba to partner with Kawasaki City on 5-year demo of independent energy supply system utilizing solar power and hydrogen

Toshiba Corporation and Kawasaki City will conduct a cooperative demonstration experiment of an independent energy supply system utilizing solar power and hydrogen. This system will be set up in the Kawasaki Marien public facility and Higashi-Ogishima-Naka Park in the Kawasaki Port area. The demonstration will run from April 2015 (the beginning of fiscal 2015) until the end of fiscal 2020 (March 2021).

The independent energy supply system combines a 25 kW photovoltaic facility; a storage battery; hydrogen-producing water electrolysis equipment; hydrogen (275 Nm3) and water tanks; and fuel cells. Electricity generated from the photovoltaic installations will be used to electrolyze water and produce hydrogen, which will then be stored in hydrogen tank and used in the fuel cells to provide electricity and hot water (60ℓ/h). Hydrogen electrical power storage capacity is 350 kWh. (Hydrogen storage capacity increases by about a maximum of 20%, depending on the weather.)

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DOE 2014 Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Progress Report highlights substantial progress

November 13, 2014

The US Department of Energy (DOE) Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) has posted the 2014 edition of its annual Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program Annual Progress Report—a nearly 1,000-page document. The report summarizes the reports provided each year by projects funded by DOE’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program and offers additional information about recent Program accomplishments.

The Program engages in research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) of critical improvements in hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, as well as other activities to overcome obstacles to commercialization. The Program integrates basic and applied research, technology development and demonstration, and other supporting activities. Over the past year, said Dr. Sunita Satyapal, Director, FCTO, “the Program made substantial progress toward its goals and objectives.”

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DOE fuel cell market report shows continued growth, with sales surpassing $1.3B worldwide in 2013

November 12, 2014

The US Department of Energy (DOE) released the 2013 edition of its annual Fuel Cell Technologies Market Report, detailing trends in the fuel cell and hydrogen technologies market. More than 35,000 fuel cell systems were shipped in 2013, an increase of more than 26% over 2012 and 400% more than 2008. In 2013, worldwide fuel cell industry sales surpassed $1 billion for the first time, reaching $1.3 billion.

Although early markets such as stationary power and material handling account for the bulk of sales, DOE noted that the fuel cell industry made “tremendous progress” in the light-duty transportation sector in 2013. Achievements include the launch of H2USA (earlier post), a public private partnership focusing on overcoming the barriers to hydrogen infrastructure. The UK launched a similar initiative called UK H2Mobility (earlier post). Hyundai began leasing its first series production fuel cell electric vehicle at select dealerships in Southern California. (Earlier post.)

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Teijin developing non-platinum metal carbon alloy catalyst suited to mass production for fuel cells

November 11, 2014

Teijin Limited is developing a non-platinum carbon alloy catalyst (CAC) for the cathode oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) in polymer electrolyte fuel cells. CAC is made from polyacrylonitrile (PAN) and steel via carbonization. Less expensive and more readily available than platinum, PAN enables the catalyst to be produced at reduced cost and in higher volumes.

Teijin has been developing and refining its CAC technologies in collaboration with researchers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. The effort is part of a project targeting the development of automotive fuel cells using CAC, led by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO). (NEDO launched work on CAC as part of a larger fuel cell effort in FY 2008.) Teijin says it will continue to advance the properties and durability of its CAC, targeting commercial use by 2025.

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Ongoing market rollout for SAE hydrogen fueling standards

November 10, 2014

At the Fuel Cell Seminar and Energy Exposition (FCS&EE) today in Los Angeles (co-sponsored by the US Department of Energy (DOE), Toyota and Honda, among others), SAE is providing a short course on “SAE H2 Fueling Standardization”; the course is presented by Jesse Schneider from BMW and Steve Mathison from Honda, both of whom have been deeply involved in the development of the SAE hydrogen fueling standards. (Earlier post.) The event is the most recent example of a concerted effort to educate stakeholders and encourage the implementation of the SAE hydrogen fueling standards.

Validated in the lab and proven in the field over the last decade, these standards provide the basis for hydrogen fueling for the first generation of infrastructure worldwide. There are currently four SAE standards in this area: the geometry of the fueling nozzle-receptacle interface (SAE J2600); hydrogen fuel quality (SAE J2719); FCEV to hydrogen station communication (SAE J2799); and hydrogen fueling (SAE J2601).

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Opinion: Debunking the myths—Why fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) are viable for the mass market

November 07, 2014

by Dr. Henri Winand, CEO of Intelligent Energy

2014 has been a year of rapid growth for the fuel cell market with positive progress being made globally, especially in markets such as US, UK, Germany, France and Japan. Public-private investment initiatives, government funding for infrastructure and consumer subsidies, falling production costs and notably, the commitment to future OEM launches of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs)—all indicate a clear road to adoption. The findings from last year’s UK H2 Mobility report support this conclusion, outlining that FCEVs represent an attractive and sustainable long-term business proposition and that they can deliver important environmental and economic benefits to the UK.

Despite the recent progress, a number of myths around the use, power efficiency and cost of fuel cells still exist.

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Researchers develop JP-8 enzymatic biofuel cell; electricity from alkanes under mild conditions

November 05, 2014

Representative schematic of hardware employed for testing of a complete biofuel cell. Credit: ACS, Ulyanova et al. Click to enlarge.

A team from the University of Utah and CFD Research Corporation (CFDRC) reports the first bioelectrocatalysis of alkanes to produce electricity. In an paper published in the journal ACS Catalysis, they describe the use of a two-enzyme cascade in an enzymatic biofuel cell to oxidize hexane, octane and then JP-8, a jet fuel (C6-C16) comprising a mixture of alkanes.

An enzymatic biofuel cell contains many of the same components as a hydrogen/oxygen fuel cell—i.e., anode, cathode, and separator. However, instead of metallic electrocatalysts at the anode and the cathode, the enzymatic biofuel cell uses enzymes as the catalysts. The enzyme cascade reported in this new work is efficient, sulfur-tolerant, and produces power densities up to 3 mW/cm2 in a JP-8 enzymatic biofuel cell at room temperature without preprocessing of the fuel—as opposed to traditional metal catalysts which require fuel pre-processing. This output is comparable to high power density sugar and alcohol biofuel cells, the researchers said.

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8 ZEV states announce US ZEV sales top 260,000 units

October 23, 2014

Representatives of an eight-state partnership to develop and to support the market for zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) joined California Air Resources Board Chairman Mary D. Nichols in Diamond Bar, California to announce that sales figures from around the country now show ZEV sales of more than 260,000 vehicles, with the quarter-million mark reached in September.

In October 2013, the 8 states signed a memorandum of understanding to take specific actions to put 3.3 million ZEVS on the roads in their states by 2025 (earlier post); the partners released a ZEV Action Plan in June 2014 (earlier post). Californians have purchased or leased more than 100,000 ZEVs. The other seven states—Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont—account for more than 135,000 vehicles.

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Swedish Energy Agency awards PowerCell $960K toward developing modular fuel cell range extender system for EVs

October 22, 2014

The Swedish Energy Agency has awarded Volvo Group spinout PowerCell SEK7 million (US$965,000) for the MoRE Zero project to develop a fuel cell system for use in a modular range extender system for electric vehicles in the European ERA-NET project. The kick-off meeting of the MoRE Zero project took place on June 2014.

PowerCell will develop a modular and scalable fuel cell system in the order of 20-25 kW. The fuel cell systems will be integrated and demonstrated in three different types of electric vehicles: a small 3.5-tonne truck provided by IDIADA; a 5-tonne minibus or 10-tonne small bus provided By Hexagon Studio; and an 18-tonne heavy truck provided by E-Trucks Europe. The modular range-extender system will comprise:

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Nissan leads with transfer of California ZEV credits out for year ending 30 Sep 2014

October 17, 2014

Nissan led with California ZEV credit transfers out during the last report period. Click to enlarge.

Between 1 October 2013 and 30 September 2014, Nissan transferred out 663.6 ZEV (zero emission vehicle) credits from its balance account, according to the latest report by the California Air Resources Board (ARB)—just edging out Tesla with 650.195 credits. The next closest was Fiat, with 235.2 ZEV credits transferred out; followed by Ford with 38.738.

This latest credit balance report reflects ZEV regulation compliance through model year 2013, representing a total of 3.5 million vehicles including: more than 500 fuel cell vehicles; 38,000 battery electric vehicles; 29,300 neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs); 30,000 plug-in hybrids; 570,000 hybrids; and 3 million gasoline vehicles. As of September 2014, more than 100,000 ZEVs and plug-in hybrids are on California roads.

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Novel bi-metallic palladium-tungsten nano-alloy an efficient low-cost fuel cell catalyst; simple microwave synthesis

October 16, 2014

Swedish and Chinese researchers have fashioned a novel nano-alloy composed of palladium nano-islands embedded in tungsten nanoparticles supported on ordered mesoporous carbon as an efficient fuel cell catalyst. In a paper in the journal Nature Communications, they reported that despite a very low percentage of noble metal (​palladium:tungsten=1:8), the hybrid catalyst material exhibits a performance equal to commercial 60% platinum/Vulcan for the oxygen reduction reaction in a fuel cell.

The researchers attributed the high catalytic efficiency to the formation of small palladium islands embedded at the surface of the ​palladium–tungsten bimetallic nanoparticles, generating catalytic hotspots. The ​palladium islands are ~1 nm in diameter, and contain 10–20 palladium atoms that are segregated at the surface. The results, they said, may provide insight into the formation, stabilization and performance of bimetallic nanoparticles for catalytic reactions.

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Report: Toyota to begin sales of fuel cell sedan in Japan this December

October 15, 2014

The Nikkei reports that Toyota will begin sales of its new hydrogen fuel cell vehicle (FCV), reportedly named Mirai, in Japan in December. The company had earlier said the fuel cell sedan would be on sale in Japan before April 2015, and in the US and Europe by summer 2015. (Earlier post.)

The Nikkei said that Toyota had planned to make 700 of the fuel cell cars annually, but that initial demand is already reaching close to 1,000. The company will consider raising output based on the progress of the deployment of the refueling infrastructure required.

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New Flyer to start development of first 60' fuel cell hybrid bus in North America; introduces 40' battery-electric bus

October 14, 2014

New Flyer Industries Inc. is developing the first North American designed and built 60-foot battery-electric/fuel cell hybrid bus that will operate in daily service. CALSTART, which will administer the project for the FTA, received the green light from the FTA for work to proceed.

The electric propulsion system being integrated into New Flyer’s Buy America-compliant Xcelsior X60 heavy-duty transit bus platform includes a combination of batteries, a fuel cell, and hydrogen storage. The electric drive bus will allow the fuel cell to operate at a relative steady-state, while the batteries will be able to both capture breaking energy and provide power for acceleration.

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Rice BN-doped graphene quantum dots/graphene platelet hybrid material can outperform platinum as fuel cell catalyst

October 13, 2014

Preparation procedure for the BN-GQD/G nanocomposite. Credit: ACS, Fei et al. Click to enlarge.

A team at Rice University has created a hybrid material combining graphene quantum dots (GQDs) and graphene platelets that can—depending upon its formulation—outperform platinum as a catalyst for fuel cells.

The material showed an oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) of about 15 millivolts more in positive onset potential—the start of the reaction—and 70% larger current density than platinum-based catalysts. The materials required to make the flake-like hybrids are much cheaper, too, said Dr. James Tour, whose lab created GQDs from coal last year. A paper on their new work is published in the journal ACS Nano.

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UK putting up nearly $18M to establish initial hydrogen refueling network of up to 15 stations

October 09, 2014

UK Business Minister Matthew Hancock announced up to £11 million (US$17.7 million) of funding to help establish an initial network of up to 15 hydrogen refueling stations by the end of 2015. Of the £11 million, £7.5 million (US$12 million) will come from government and £3.5 million (US$5.6 million) from industry. Toyota earlier this month announced that the UK will be one of the first markets for its FCEV when it goes on sale next year.

Of the funding, £2 million (US$3.2 million) will go to upgrade 6 to 8 existing hydrogen refueling stations (already operational or under development in the UK) and take them from demonstrator projects to publicly accessible sites.

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