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Hydrogen

[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.]

U Glasgow chemists develop new electrolyzer architecture for H2 production 30X faster than current electrolyzers at equivalent platinum loading

September 15, 2014

Chemists from the University of Glasgow (Scotland) have developed a new method for hydrogen production that is 30 times faster than current state-of-the-art proton exchange membrane electrolyzers at equivalent platinum loading. The process also solves common problems associated with generating electricity from renewable sources such as solar, wind or wave energy. A paper on their method is published in the journal Science.

The method uses a recyclable redox mediator (silicotungstic acid) that enables the coupling of low-pressure production of oxygen via water oxidation to a separate, catalytic hydrogen production step outside an electrolyzer that requires no post-electrolysis energy input. This approach sidesteps the production of high-pressure gases inside the electrolytic cell (a major cause of membrane degradation) and essentially eliminates the hazardous issue of product gas crossover at the low current densities that characterize renewables-driven water-splitting devices.

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California Energy Commission to award $13M to further ZEVs and advanced vehicle technology manufacturing in the state

September 10, 2014

The California Energy Commission has issued two solicitations for a combined $13.3 million to further advanced ZEV and advanced vehicle technologies in the state. The first, Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Readiness (PON-14-603), will award about $3.3 million to support planning efforts for plug-in and fuel cell vehicles.

The second, Advanced Vehicle Technology Manufacturing (PON-14-604), will award about $10 million to support the development of either full advanced vehicles or advanced vehicle components in the state.

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California ARB considering modifications to ZEV regs to provide more flexibility for intermediate volume manufacturers

September 03, 2014

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) will conduct a public hearing on 23 October to consider amendments to the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) regulation that would modify the requirements for intermediate volume manufacturers (IVMs) selling into the state to allow them more time to come into the advanced technology vehicle market.

The modifications to the ZEV rule, developed by the ARB staff to be presented to the Board at the meeting, provide additional compliance flexibility to the IVMs by providing additional production lead time; a reduced compliance obligation; an opportunity to pool compliance obligations in ZEV states; and additional time to make up ZEV credit deficits.

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U. Mich study: natural-gas-based ICE, BEV and FCV all show promise for environmental benefits relative to conventional ICE

August 19, 2014

Results of a lifecycle analysis by a team at the University of Michigan suggest that multiple types of natural gas-powered vehicles—i.e., natural-gas burning ICE vehicles; battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) recharged with gas-generated electricity; and fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) using hydrogen produced from natural gas—all show promise for reducing environmental impacts, energy demand and climate change impacts relative to conventional petroleum-fueled internal combustion engined vehicles for personal mobility.

Qiang Dai and Christian Lastoskie found that BEVs and FCVs in particular offer significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, especially if carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies are implemented at the fuel conversion facilities. Their study appears in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels.

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UC Davis researchers suggest we may be at the beginning of a real hydrogen transition in transportation

August 15, 2014

Researchers at the Institute of Transportation Studies University of California, Davis suggest that a number of positive trends indicate that we may be seeing the beginning of a real hydrogen transition in transportation, despite earlier starts that fizzled.

This is far from certain, they acknowledge in a new NextSTEPS whitepaper, as hydrogen faces a range of challenges, from economic to societal, before it can be implemented as a large-scale transportation fuel. Fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) are technically ready; what is still to be determined is the required confidence in hydrogen’s future for investors, fuel suppliers, automakers and consumers, they suggest. However, they note, “the trends are encouraging and the hydrogen enterprise has never been more serious and focused. The next three to four years will be critical for determining whether hydrogen vehicles are just a few years behind electric vehicles, rather than decades.

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Toyota’s Carter: we’re on the cusp of the automotive hydrogen age

August 13, 2014

In his talk at the 2014 J.P. Morgan Auto Conference in New York, Bob Carter, Toyota Motor Sales (USA) Senior Vice President, Automotive Operations said that the company in spending an average of more than $1 million an hour this year on R&D. Carter said that a prime example of the R&D focus is the hydrogen fuel cell sedan to be launched to the public in California next summer (earlier post) and, he suggested, thereafter to the East Coast.

Toyota’s basic stance on hydrogen is that fuel cell vehicles, in addition to offering high total energy (well-to-wheel) efficiency, are extremely versatile, with a long cruising range and a short fueling time. Carter noted that Toyota has reduced the cost of the fuel cell powertrain by 95% , and is confident it can reduce the cost further.

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Navigant forecasts global road transportation energy consumption to increase 25% by 2035; 84% from conventional fuels

July 28, 2014

In a new report (Transportation Forecast: Global Fuel Consumption), Navigant Research forecasts total road transportation energy consumption will grow from 81.1 quadrillion Btu in 2014 to 101.7 quadrillion Btu in 2035—an increase of 25.4%. Approximately 84% of that will be provided by conventional fuels. The United States is currently the largest consumer of energy in the road transportation sector, with nearly 23.1 quadrillion Btu projected to be consumed in 2014.

Navigant also projects that investments in alternative fuel and fuel efficiency improvements will reduce annual energy consumption in the United States year-over-year. Most developed countries in Western Europe and parts of Asia Pacific will also exhibit similar decreases in energy consumption. In contrast, energy consumption will grow in developing regions, particularly in Eastern Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East & Africa. Brazil, Russia, India, and China (the BRIC nations) will represent the largest increases, as the percentage of global road transportation energy consumed by these nations is forecast to grow from 20% in 2014 to 36% in 2035.

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California Energy Commission approves $46.6M for hydrogen refueling and $2.8M for EV charging projects

July 24, 2014

The California Energy Commission gave final approval for nearly $50 million in grant awards for hydrogen refueling and electric charging construction projects recommended for funding in notices of proposed awards published in April and May.

California’s zero-emission vehicle goal is to get 1.5 million hydrogen, battery electric, and plug-in electric vehicles on the roadway by 2025. In response to this directive, the Energy Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP) has already allocated nearly $400 million to help bolster statewide infrastructure and create a viable market for zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), and to promote alternative fuels.

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SwRI receives $1.8M DOE award to develop linear motor reciprocating compressor for hydrogen

July 23, 2014

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Compression is a major contributor to the cost of hydrogen fueling. Source: Elgowainy et al. Click to enlarge.

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) will begin work in August on a $1.8-million contract awarded by the US Department of Energy DOE to develop, to fabricate and to test a linear motor reciprocating compressor (LMRC). The contract is one of 10 awarded by DOE for projects that will advance hydrogen production and delivery technologies for this fuel source. (Earlier post.)

In its 2012 Multi-Year Research, Development and Demonstration Plan, DOE notes that hydrogen fueling station compressor flow rates may be 5 - 100 kg/hr and require compression pressures as high as 90 MPa (900 bar). (Consumer vehicles will likely require gaseous hydrogen compressed to 70 MPa to meet acceptable range targets.) At present, hydrogen delivery (which includes compression) and storage is an expensive operation. Capital costs are high, and the equipment used is often inefficient and unreliable, leading to costly routine maintenance, repairs and downtime.

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NIST develops prototype meter test for hydrogen refueling stations

July 22, 2014

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The TFF. Click to enlarge.

To support the fair sale of gaseous hydrogen as a vehicle fuel, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a prototype Transient Flow Facility (TFF) to test the accuracy of hydrogen fuel dispensers. The TFF generates transient flow, pressure, and temperature conditions similar to those that occur when a hydrogen-powered vehicle is refueled.

In a paper published in the journal Flow Measurement and Instrumentation, the NIST team reports using the TFF to assess the performance of two Coriolis meters (used to measure mass flow). However, they noted, the TFF can test other meter types and protocols, making it ideal for testing prototype field calibration standards for gaseous fuel dispensers.

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DOE to award $9M to promote consensus on future fossil energy technologies

July 20, 2014

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy will award $9 million over five years to organizations to assist it in building domestic and international consensus on future fossil energy technologies (DE-FOA-0001111). The Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) anticipates two awards being made: the first for $7 million in the area of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and fossil-fuel-based Clean Energy Systems (CES); the second for $2 million in the area of international oil and natural gas.

One of the key missions of the Office of Fossil Energy is to “ensure the nation can continue to rely on traditional resources for clean, secure and affordable energy while enhancing environmental protection.” In pursuit of this, the Office provides outreach and education to many stakeholders, including the general public, in order to allow them to make educated choices about energy.

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SAE publishes SAE J2601 standard to harmonize H2 fueling of Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles worldwide

July 16, 2014

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SAE J2601 enables fast refueling for all light-duty fuel cell vehicles. Photo courtesy of Shell. Click to enlarge.

SAE has published the J2601 standard, “Fueling Protocols for Light Duty Gaseous Hydrogen Surface Vehicles”, the light duty hydrogen fueling protocol which will serve as a baseline for the first generation of infrastructure for refueling Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEVs). (Earlier post.)

This standard will be used to harmonize the protocol for hydrogen fueling stations worldwide for both 35 MPa and 70 MPa. Obtaining extended driving ranges with hydrogen fueling is accomplished by compressing hydrogen to 70 MPa (or H70).

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Linde starts small-series production for hydrogen fueling stations; agreement with Iwatani for delivery of 28 units

July 14, 2014

In Vienna, the Linde Group officially opened the first small-series production facility for hydrogen fueling stations. Linde extensively modernized and expanded the Vienna Application Centre specifically for this project. A number of hydrogen fueling innovations have originated from this research and development hub in Vienna in recent years, including Linde’s energy-efficient, compact ionic compressor, the IC 90. (Earlier post.)

Highlights of the new small-series production concept include a high degree of standardization across all components, which are installed in a compact 14-foot container for ease of transport and integration in existing fueling stations.

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Sandia study finds more California gas stations could provide H2 than previously thought; NFPA 2 code

July 08, 2014

A study by researchers at Sandia National Laboratories concludes that a number of existing gas stations in California can safely store and dispense hydrogen, suggesting a broader network of hydrogen fueling stations may be within reach.

The report examined 70 commercial gasoline stations in the state to determine which, if any, could integrate hydrogen fuel, based on the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) hydrogen technologies code published in 2011. The study determined that 14 of the 70 gas stations—i.e., 20%—involved in the study could readily accept hydrogen fuel and that 17 more possibly could accept hydrogen with property expansions. Under previous NFPA code requirements from 2005, none of the existing gasoline stations could readily accept hydrogen.

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DOE seeking input on commercialization of fuel cells as range extenders for battery-electric vehicles

July 04, 2014

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a Request for Information (RFI) (DE-FOA-0001145) to solicit feedback from industry, academia, research laboratories, government agencies, and other stakeholders on issues related to the technical and economic feasibility of commercializing fuel cell range extenders for available battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) in the US market.

DOE’s office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE) is specifically interested in information on BEV makes and models where an after-market modification to extend the vehicle range using a Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM) fuel cell system would be most feasible.

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USC team finds Li-Al nanoparticles produce hydrogen from water with high rate and yield; potential for industrial scaling

June 27, 2014

Aluminum and water react exothermically to form aluminum hydroxide and hydrogen; this basic property has lured numerous researchers interested in generating hydrogen from the aluminum-water reaction for modern transportation systems for at least 35 years. (Earlier post.) However, among the barriers to the practical application of this reaction are the low reaction rate and poor yield.

Now, results of large quantum molecular dynamics (QMD) simulations by a team at the University of Southern California suggest that alloying aluminum particles with lithium to produce hydrogen from water can produce orders-of-magnitude faster reactions with higher yields. Their paper is published in the ACS journal Nano Letters.

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NREL and GM announce multi-year R&D partnership to reduce cost of automotive fuel cells

June 25, 2014

The Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and General Motors (GM) are partnering on a multi-year, multi-million dollar joint effort to accelerate the reduction of automotive fuel cell stack costs through fuel cell material and manufacturing research and development (R&D). Most major automakers, including GM, have made significant progress in the development of fuel cell electric vehicles, but achieving commercial deployment with global impact will require further cost reductions.

NREL and GM will focus on critical next-generation fuel cell electric vehicle challenges, which include reducing platinum loading, achieving high power densities, understanding the implication of contaminants on fuel cell performance and durability, and accelerating manufacturing processes to achieve the benefits of increased economies of scale.

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Toyota to launch its fuel cell vehicle in Japan before April 2015, priced around $68,700; reveals exterior

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Toyota’s Mitsuhisa Kato briefs the media in Japan on the timing and pricing of the FCV, and outlines the company’s view of the role of fuel cell vehicles. Click to enlarge.

Toyota Motor Corporation revealed the exterior design and Japan pricing of its hydrogen fuel cell sedan, first unveiled as a concept at the Tokyo Motor Show last year. (Earlier post.) The car will launch in Japan before April 2015, and preparations are underway for launches in the US and European markets in the summer of 2015.

In Japan, the fuel cell sedan will go on sale at Toyota and Toyopet dealerships, priced at approximately ¥7 million (US$68,700) (MSRP; excludes consumption tax). Initially, sales will be limited to regions where hydrogen refueling infrastructure is being developed: Saitama Prefecture, Chiba Prefecture, Tokyo Metropolis, Kanagawa Prefecture, Yamanashi Prefecture, Aichi Prefecture, Osaka Prefecture, Hyogo Prefecture, Yamaguchi Prefecture, and Fukuoka Prefecture.

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RAL proposes new efficient and low-cost process to crack ammonia for hydrogen using sodium amide; transportation applications

June 23, 2014

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RAL researchers are proposing a new process for the decomposition of ammonia to release hydrogen that involves the stoichiometric decomposition and formation of sodium amide from Na metal. Credit: ACS, David et al. Click to enlarge.

Researchers at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) in the UK are proposing a new type of process that is an alternative to the use of rare or transition metal catalysts for the cracking of ammonia (NH3) to produce hydrogen. A paper on the process appears in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

The new process decomposes ammonia using the concurrent stoichiometric decomposition and regeneration of sodium amide (NaNH2) via sodium metal (Na); this is a significant departure in reaction mechanism compared with traditional surface catalysts. The scientists report that in variable-temperature NH3 decomposition experiments using a simple flow reactor, the Na/NaNH2 system shows superior performance to supported nickel and ruthenium catalysts, reaching up to a 99.2% decomposition efficiency with 0.5 g of NaNH2 in a 60 sccm NH3 flow at 530 °C. As an abundant and inexpensive material, the development of NaNH2-based NH3 cracking systems may promote the utilization of NH3 for sustainable energy storage purposes, they suggest.

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US Hybrid awarded contract to deliver plug-in fuel cell shuttle bus to Hawaii County Mass Transit Agency

June 19, 2014

US Hybrid Fuel Cell Shuttle Bus
The hydrogen shuttle bus. Click to enlarge.

California-based US Hybrid Corporation has been awarded a contract by the Hawaii Center for Advanced Transportation Technologies (HCATT) for the design, integration and delivery of its H2Ride Fuel Cell Plug-In Shuttle Bus for operation by the County of Hawaii Mass Transit Agency’s (MTA) HELE-ON Big Island bus service. The project is funded by the State of Hawaii and Office of Naval Research via the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI).

Integrated at US Hybrid’s Honolulu facility, the 25-passenger shuttle bus utilizes a 30 kW fuel cell fueled by a 20 kg hydrogen storage and delivery system. The fuel cell and 28 kWh lithium-ion battery pack power the vehicle’s 200 kW powertrain, air conditioning, and auxiliary systems. Onboard batteries are recharged by regenerative braking as well as grid charging. The US Hybrid fuel cell, powertrain, and vehicle controller optimizes power delivered by the energy storage and fuel cell power plant.

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Hyundai delivers keys to first Tucson Fuel Cell customer; leasing for $499/mo, with unlimited free fueling; first drive

June 11, 2014

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First customer Tim Bush and family (center), with John Patterson (left) and Dave Zuchowski, president and CEO, Hyundai Motor America (right). Click to enlarge.

In an event combining a first-customer ceremony and a media drive, Tustin (California) Hyundai’s Dealer Principal, John Patterson, handed over the keys to Hyundai’s first mass-produced Tucson Fuel Cell crossover (earlier post) to Timothy Bush, the first Hyundai Fuel Cell customer, with Hyundai executives in attendance.

Hyundai thus is first out the gate with the next wave of “mass-produced” fuel cell vehicles. In this context, “mass-produced” means that the fuel cell vehicle is assembled on the same line at Ulsan, Korea, as the conventional Tucson, rather than hand-assembled. Volumes will initially be low: in the hundreds, said Gil Castillo, senior US group manager for Hyundai’s alternative vehicle program.

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SunLine Transit Agency takes delivery of two new fuel cell buses; 8th generation

June 10, 2014

SunLine Transit Agency of Thousand Palms, CA has taken delivery of two new eight-generation fuel cell buses, each powered by a Ballard FCvelocity-HD6 fuel cell module. These new buses evolve the previously deployed seventh-generation American Fuel Cell Bus (AFCB) configuration, which was first introduced with SunLine Transit Agency in 2011. (Earlier post.) SunLine is a longstanding leader in the deployment of clean transportation technologies in the United States; the agency converted entirely to CNG from diesel more than 20 years ago.

The AFCB has a fuel-cell-dominant hybrid electric propulsion system in a series configuration. The AFCB configuration utilizes Ballard’s FCvelocity-HD6 fuel cell module to provide primary power, in combination with BAE Systems’ HybriDrive propulsion and power management systems deployed in an ElDorado National 40-foot (12-meter) Axess model, heavy duty transit bus.

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DOE to award up to $4.6M for innovations in fuel cell and hydrogen fuel technologies

June 06, 2014

The US Department of Energy (DOE) Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) issued a funding opportunity announcement for up to $4.6 million for 12–24 month projects with industry and academia (DE-FOA-0000966) in support of innovations in fuel cell and hydrogen fuel technologies. (Earlier post.)

The FCTO Incubator Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is intended to identify potentially impactful technologies that are not already addressed in FCTO’s strategic plan or project portfolio. The FOA is open to any and all impactful ideas which will significantly advance the mission of the FCTO and that are relevant to its Multi-Year Program Plan (MYPP); however, specific areas of interest include:

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8-state alliance releases action plan to put 3.3M ZEVs on their roads by 2025

May 29, 2014

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Projected ZEV compliance scenario for the eight states. Click to enlarge.

Eight partnering states released their Multi-State ZEV Action Plan as the first promised milestone for the bi-coastal collaboration to pave the way for increasingly large numbers of zero emission vehicles: plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), battery electric vehicles (BEVs), and hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). The partner states are California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont. Together they represent about a quarter of the nation’s new car sales.

The governors of the 8 states began this latest collaboration with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on 24 October 2013. (Earlier post.) The ultimate goal is to reduce greenhouse gas and smog-causing emissions by transforming the transportation sector over the next 11 years.

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

May 22, 2014

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

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

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Intelligent Energy unveils next-generation, integrated, compact fuel cell power unit; developed with Suzuki

May 21, 2014

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The new Gen4 unit. Click to enlarge.

Intelligent Energy introduced its Gen4 air-cooled fuel cell power unit, designed for easy integration into two-wheel and four-wheel vehicles, at the 2014 JSAE (Society of Automotive Engineers of Japan) Annual Congress in Yokohama. The technology has been developed in collaboration with the Suzuki Motor Corporation.

Rated for continuous operation at 3.9kW and capable of providing in excess of 4kW for short periods, the power unit has been designed as a prime-mover power source for smaller fuel cell electric vehicles and also as a range extender for larger vehicles, offering a zero-emission alternative to conventional internal combustion engines and to address range anxiety with battery-only electric vehicles.

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US DOE awarding $7M to 6 projects for advanced hydrogen storage systems for vehicles

May 20, 2014

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award a total of $7 million to six projects to develop lightweight, compact, and inexpensive advanced hydrogen storage systems that will enable longer driving ranges and help make fuel cell systems competitive for different platforms and sizes of vehicles.

Materia of Pasadena, California will receive $2 million to reduce the cost of compressed hydrogen storage systems. The project will demonstrate a novel resin system that reduces the use of expensive carbon fiber composites for high pressure storage tanks.

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California Energy Commission publishes investment plan for alt and renewable fuel and vehicle technology, 2014-2015

May 14, 2014

The California Energy Commission has published the “2014‐2015 Investment Plan Update for the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program”. The 2014‐2015 Investment Plan Update covers the sixth year of the program and reflects laws, executive orders, and policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, petroleum dependence, and criteria emissions. It details how the California Energy Commission, with input from stakeholders and the program Advisory Committee, determines the program’s goal‐driven priorities, coupled with project opportunities for funding.

The Energy Commission held public Advisory Committee workshops to collect feedback on the initial and then revised staff drafts; a lead commissioner report version was released on 8 April 2014, and the Energy Commission adopted this commission report at its Business Meeting on 22 April 2014.

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DOE issues request for information on fuel cell research and development needs

May 07, 2014

The US Department of Energy’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) has issued a request for information (DE-FOA-0001133) seeking feedback from the research community and relevant stakeholders to assist in the development of topics for a potential funding opportunity announcement in 2015 for fuel cells and fuel cell systems, including cross-cutting stack and balance of plant component technology.

The RFI is soliciting feedback on R&D needs for and technical barriers to the widespread commercialization of fuel cells for transportation, stationary, and early market segments. FCTO is specifically interested in information on R&D needs and priorities concerning the development of low-cost fuel cell components and pathways leading to improved fuel cell performance and durability. Input received from this RFI will be considered prior to FCTO issuing a fuel cell FOA (subject to Congressional appropriations). DOE is primarily seeking information in the following six categories:

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The Michelin Group acquires minority stake in fuel cell company Symbio FCell

May 06, 2014

The Michelin Group has taken a significant minority stake in French fuel cell company Symbio FCell as part of the company’s second round of funding. Michelin joins existing shareholders including the founders, managers and several investment funds: IPSA and CEA Investments (through the CEA strategic fund and its ATI seed-stage fund).

Symbio FCell is the provider of a fuel cell range extender for the Renault Kangoo ZE commercial electrical utility vehicle. Approved for use in Europe, the fuel cell range extender-equipped Kangoo is currently being tested by major commercial fleet operators such as La Poste (French post-office). (Earlier post.)

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Toyota to provide financial assistance to FirstElement for construction of H2 refueling network in California

May 02, 2014

Toyota Motor Sales (TMS) and its affiliate Toyota Motor Credit Corporation (TMCC) have entered into a group of financial agreements with FirstElement Fuel Inc. (FE) to support the long-term operation and maintenance expenses of new hydrogen refueling stations in California.

FirstElement was selected by the California Energy Commission for a proposed award of $2,902,000 to construct two 100% renewable refueling stations in Los Angeles, and $24,667,000 for 17 stations in other key locations in California. (Earlier post.) Toyota’s actual amount of financial assistance will be based on an analysis of the grant award to FirstElement by the California Energy Commission’s (CEC) Notice of Proposed Awards (NOPA) announced yesterday, and final approval of the NOPA, anticipated in June.

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Sandia Labs and NREL leading new DOE hydrogen infrastructure project; H2FIRST

May 01, 2014

H2FIRST Logo

A new project launched by the US Department of Energy (DOE) and led by Sandia National Laboratories and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) will work in support of H2USA, the public private partnership introduced in 2013 by the Energy Department and industry stakeholders to address the challenge of hydrogen infrastructure. (Earlier post.)

Established by the Energy Department’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the Sandia- and NREL-led Hydrogen Fueling Infrastructure Research and Station Technology (H2FIRST) project will draw on existing and emerging core capabilities at the national labs and aim to reduce the cost and time of new fueling station construction and improve the stations’ availability and reliability. By focusing on these aspects of the hydrogen fueling infrastructure, the effort hopes to accelerate and support the widespread deployment of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles.

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DOE to award up to $10M for projects advancing Zero Emission Cargo Transport (ZECT)

April 30, 2014

The US Department of Energy (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), on behalf of the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE) Office of Vehicle Technologies (OVT) Program, has issued a funding opportunity announcement (DE-FOA-0001106) to award up to $10 million for projects to accelerate the introduction and penetration of electric transportation technologies (ETT) into the cargo transport sector for Zero Emission Cargo Transport (ZECT).

Goals for awards resulting from this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) include demonstrating reductions of 1) petroleum use, 2) greenhouse gas emissions, and 3) criteria pollutant and toxics emissions. Other goals include evaluating the market viability of cargo ETT and collecting detailed information to analyze the benefits and viability of this freight transportation approach for this and other non-attainment areas.

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Researchers use neutron crystallography to show outcome of hydrogen cleavage by catalyst; helping to build better fuel cell catalyst

April 24, 2014

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Neutron crystallography shows this iron catalyst gripping two hydrogen atoms (red spheres). This arrangement allows an unusual dihydrogen bond to form between the hydrogen atoms (red dots). Source: Liu et al. Click to enlarge.

Using neutron crystallography, researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and their colleagues at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have shown for the first time precisely where the hydrogen halves end up in the structure of a molecular catalyst—an iron hydrogenase inspired by a natural hydrogenase enzyme—that breaks down hydrogen. A paper on their study is published in Angewandte Chemie International Edition.

The view confirms previous hypotheses and provides insight into how to make the catalyst work better for energy uses—i.e., for fuel cells—as an alternative to platinum.

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DOE releases five-year strategic plan, 2014-2018; supporting “all of the above” energy strategy

April 08, 2014

The US Department of Energy (DOE) released its five-year 2014-2018 Strategic Plan. The plan is organized into 12 strategic objectives aimed at three distinct goals: Science and Energy; Nuclear Security; and Management and Performance. These objectives represent broad cross-cutting and collaborative efforts across DOE headquarters, site offices, and national laboratories.

The overarching goal for Science and Energy is: “Advance foundational science, innovate energy technologies, and inform data driven policies that enhance US economic growth and job creation, energy security, and environmental quality, with emphasis on implementation of the President’s Climate Action Plan to mitigate the risks of and enhance resilience against climate change.” Under that, the plan sketches out 3 strategic goals:

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California ARB posts final modifications for ZEV rule on fast refueling/battery exchange for public comment

April 05, 2014

The staff of the California Air Resources Board (ARB) has posted for public comment current final modifications for the Zero Emission Vehicle Regulation for 15 days. (Earlier post.) Statutorily, depending upon the comments received, ARB staff may either make further modifications and resubmit to Board for further consideration; failing that, the Board will adopt the new regulatory language.

These final tweaks to the ZEV rule involve the allocation of ZEV credits for different types of ZEV vehicles and the handling of the associated fast-refueling accreditation, which includes the possible use of battery-swapping.

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Partners launch $51M hydrogen fuel cell vehicle and infrastructure project in Europe

April 03, 2014

Automakers, hydrogen fuel suppliers, the Mayor of London’s Office and energy consultancies launched the £31-million (US$51-million) European HyFive project at City Hall in London. Five different manufacturers will deploy a total of 110 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles at several European locations (Bolzano, Copenhagen, Innsbruck, London, Munich, Stuttgart) and develop new clusters of hydrogen refueling stations.

Locations are being sought for three new hydrogen refueling stations in London, one in Aarhus and in Odense (Denmark) and one in Innsbruck (Austria). They are expected to be operational by 2015, by which time some of the manufacturers in the partnership will have started to put hydrogen fueled cars on sale in some European markets.

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DOE awards $17M to FY 2014 SBIR Phase II projects; includes Si/graphene anodes, motor windings, exhaust treatments

March 31, 2014

The US DOE recently awarded $17 million to 17 FY 2014 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II projects to further develop Phase I projects and to produce a prototype or equivalent within two years. The selected 17 awards represent the best of nearly 1,000 ideas submitted for the FY 2012/13 Broad Based Topic Solicitation, DOE said.

The selected projects include 6 vehicle-related technologies and 2 hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, as well as new hydropower, heat pump, solar and manufacturing technologies. Vehicle technologies span a range from new Si/graphene Li-ion anode materials and composites for motor windings to diesel aftertreatment and advanced lubricants. Selected vehicle and hydrogen technology projects are:

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JEC updates well-to-wheels study on automotive fuels and powertrains; electro-mobility, natural gas and biofuels

March 27, 2014

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WTW energy expended and GHG emissions for conventional fuels ICE and hybrid vehicles shows the potential for improvement of conventional fuels and ICE based vehicles. Source: EUR 26236 EN - 2014 Click to enlarge.

Europe’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) and its partners in the JEC Consortium—JRC, EUCAR (the European Council for Automotive R&D) and CONCAWE (the oil companies European association for environment, health and safety in refining and distribution)—have published a new version of the Well-to-Wheels Analysis of Future Automotive Fuels and Powertrains in the European Context. (Earlier post.)

The updated version includes a longer-term outlook by expanding the time horizon from 2010 and beyond to 2020 and beyond. It adds an assessment of electrically chargeable vehicle configurations, such as plug-in hybrid, range extended, battery and fuel-cell electric vehicles. It also introduces an update of natural gas pathways, taking into account the addition of a European shale gas pathway. Furthermore, biofuel pathways, including an entirely new approach to NOx emissions from farming, were thoroughly revised.

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SAE taskforce completes two technical standards on hydrogen refueling; harmonizing the global infrastructure

March 24, 2014

To support the impending roll-out of hydrogen fueling infrastructure and Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEV), SAE International’s Fuel Cell Standards Taskforce has completed two technical standards: SAE J2601, “Fueling Protocols for Light Duty Gaseous Hydrogen Surface Vehicles”; and SAE J2799, “Hydrogen Surface Vehicle to Station Hardware and Software”. The standards have been created to harmonize hydrogen fueling worldwide for both 35 MPa and 70 MPa pressures.

J2601. SAE J2601 (also with J2799) fuels fuel cell vehicle hydrogen storage systems quickly to a high state of charge (SOC) without violating the storage system operating limits, explained Jesse Schneider, Sponsor of both Standards SAE J2601 & J2799, in a presentation at the SAE 2014 Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Technologies Symposium earlier this year. SAE J2601 defines parameters for a hydrogen fueling experience similar to conventional fueling and is considered one of the key standards required for the commercialization of fuel cell vehicles and hydrogen stations.

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Aberdeen takes delivery of first 4 of 10 hydrogen buses

The Aberdeen (Scotland) city council has taken delivery of four of the 10 hydrogen buses ordered from Belgian firm Van Hool and to be operated by FirstGroup and Stagecoach as part of the Aberdeen Hydrogen Bus Project. The others are due to be delivered in the coming weeks; in total, the 10 will represent the largest single operating hydrogen bus fleet. Ballard Power Systems is developing the hydrogen fuel cells for the buses.

The £19-million (US$31 million) Aberdeen City Council-led bus project, which has backing from Europe, the UK Government and the Scottish Government, as well as a broad range of private sector partners, is testing the economic and environmental benefits of hydrogen transport technologies and aims to drive the development of hydrogen technologies.

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Toyota continues to prepare the market for fuel cell vehicle in 2015

March 11, 2014

Toyota Motor continues to lay the foundation for the introduction of its production fuel cell hybrid vehicle in 2015; the company began work on fuel cell technology in 1992. Showcased at the Consumer Electronics Show in January in Las Vegas (earlier post), the FCV Concept, which presages the introduction of the series-production vehicle, made its European debut at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show.

Re-emphasizing the general technology points that have emerged over the past few months at different events while adding a bit more detail, Yoshikazu Tanaka, Product General Manager of the Product Planning Group, said at the Geneva show that Toyota’s current fuel cell (FC) system features an output power density of 3.0 kW/L—twice as high as that of its previous FCV, the Toyota FCHV-adv (earlier post). The output power is more than 100kW, despite significant unit downsizing.

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DOE to issue funding opportunity for hydrogen and fuel cell Incubator projects

March 07, 2014

The US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) intends to issue, on behalf of its Fuel Cell Technologies Office, a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) entitled “Innovations in Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Fuels Technologies” (DE-FOA-0001094) for the FCTO Incubator program.

EERE has established multi‐year plans and roadmaps, with a concomitant focus of the majority of its resources on a limited number of “highest probability of success” pathways/approaches to ensure that the program initiatives are supported at a critical mass (both in terms of dollars and time) for maximum impact. While this roadmap‐based approach can be a strength, it can also create challenges in recognizing and exploring unanticipated, game changing pathways/approaches which may ultimately be superior to the pathways/approaches on the existing roadmaps.

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Honda R&D installs hydrogen refueling station for field validation of new MC Fill dynamic fast-fill protocol

March 04, 2014

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MC Method control diagram, from a 2013 DOE-hosted webinar on hydrogen refueling. MC Fill allows dynamic control of refueling based on gas temperature. Click to enlarge.

Preparing for the 2015 introduction of the next Honda fuel cell-electric vehicle (FCEV), Honda R&D Americas has installed an advanced hydrogen refueling station on its Torrance, California campus to serve as a platform for demonstrating and validating its MC Fill hydrogen fueling protocol. Honda, which is also participating in the SAE J2601 work on a standardized light-duty vehicle hydrogen fueling protocol, will make the new research station available to other automakers to further validate the MC Fill protocol’s performance and functionality.

As with the J2601 protocol, which is due to be published soon (likely in April), the MC Fill fast-fill protocol is designed for fuel systems that store hydrogen at a pressure of up to 700 bar (70MPa or 10,000 psi). The primary differentiator between the current J2601 approach and Honda’s MC Fill is that Honda offers dynamic control of the refueling rate based on the measured gas temperature rather than a lookup table to control the pressure ramp rate, said Steve Mathison, Senior Engineer at Honda R&D Americas.

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Researchers at Berkeley and Argonne labs discover highly active new class of nanocatalysts for fuel cells; more efficient, lower cost

February 28, 2014

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Bar chart showing the specific activities of Pt/C, Pt poly-crystal electrode, IL-encapsulated Pt3Ni nanoframes/C, PtNi-Meso-TF, and Pt3Ni(111)-Skin electrode, and the corresponding improvement factors vs. Pt/C. Source: Chen et al. Supplementary Materials. Click to enlarge.

A team led by researchers at Berkeley and Argonne National Labs have discovered a new class of bimetallic nanocatalysts for fuel cells and water-alkali electrolyzers that are an order of magnitude higher in activity than the target set by the US Department of Energy (DOE) for 2017.

The new catalysts, hollow polyhedral nanoframes of platinum and nickel (Pt3Ni), feature a three-dimensional catalytic surface activity that makes them significantly more efficient and far less expensive than the best platinum catalysts used in today’s fuel cells and alkaline electrolyzers. This research, a collaborative effort between DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), is reported in the journal Science.

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DOE soliciting projects in advanced coal gasification for high carbon-capture power production and/or liquid fuels

February 26, 2014

The US DOE is soliciting (DE-FOA-0001051) projects for up to $10 million in awards to target technological advancements to lower the cost of producing hydrogen and/or high-hydrogen syngas from coal for use in 90% carbon capture power generation and/or gasification-based liquid (transportation) fuel production: methanol or diesel. Liquid fuel production must be GHG equivalent to conventional petroleum-based processes.

The work is also designed to assure significant reduction in the cost of coal conversion and environmental impacts, enabling coal resources to both improve US economic competitiveness and provide environmental benefits over the globe, according to the DOE.

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Sandia Labs project team building fuel cell cold ironing system for deployment at Port of Honolulu in 2015

February 25, 2014

A Sandia National Laboratories project team, including a number of industry partners, is designing and building a cold-ironing fuel cell system that will be deployed in the Port of Honolulu in 2015. The work comes on the heels of last year’s study and analysis that confirmed the viability of hydrogen fuel cells to provide auxiliary power to docked or anchored ships. (Earlier post.)

Hydrogen researchers at Sandia National Laboratories joined with several partners in the follow-up project, which will result in a portable, self-contained hydrogen fuel cell unit that can float on a barge, sit on a dock or be transported to wherever it’s needed to provide electrical power. The unit will fit inside a 20-foot shipping container and will consist of four 30-kilowatt fuel cells, a hydrogen storage system and power conversion equipment.

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Update on Honda/GM fuel cell partnership; “It’s about cost reduction”

February 21, 2014

In July 2013, General Motors and Honda announced a long-term, definitive master agreement to co-develop next-generation fuel cell system and hydrogen storage technologies, aiming for the 2020 time frame. (Earlier post.) At the SAE 2014 Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Technologies Symposium, Mark Mathias, Director, Fuel Cell R&D for GM, provided an update on the collaboration, as well as a brief dive into the technical drivers behind the ongoing automotive efforts on fuel cell propulsion related to the scaling properties of batteries and fuel cells.

The GM/Honda partnership is about cost reduction, Mathias said. “We have vehicles now that work and can be durable, it’s really now about making a business out of the technology. Obviously it involves both the vehicle and the infrastructure and the hydrogen supply, so there are a lot of elements to this.

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NREL initial report on performance of BC Transit fuel cell electric buses

February 17, 2014

Researchers from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, commissioned by the California Air Resources Board (ARB), have issued their initial evaluation of the hydrogen fuel cell buses in operation at BC Transit. The report covers two years of revenue service data on the buses from April 2011 through March 2013.

In 2012, NREL developed a guideline for evaluating the technology readiness level (TRL) for fuel cell electric buses (FCEBs). TRLs range from concept design at TRL 1 up to full commercialization and deployment at TRL 9. Using this guide, the NREL team assessed the BC Transit buses to be at TRL 7: full-scale validation in a relevant environment. During the two-year data period analyzed for the report, the FCEB fleet accumulated more than 2.1 million kilometers (1.3 million miles) and more than 156,000 hours on the fuel cell power plants. Overall the FCEBs have an average fuel consumption of 15.48 kilograms of hydrogen per 100 kilometers. This equates to a fuel economy of 4.53 miles per diesel gallon equivalent (mi/DGE). The buses have an average availability of 69%.

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Calif. ARB releases GHG scoping plan update; more ZEVs, “LEV IV”, MD and HD regulations; ZEV for trucks; more LCFS

February 11, 2014

The California Air Resources Board released the draft proposed first update to the AB 32 Scoping Plan, which guides development and implementation of California’s greenhouse gas emission reduction programs. The Air Resources Board is required to update the Scoping Plan every five years.

Among the actions proposed or considered in the transportation sector include aggressive implementation of the light-duty Zero Emission Vehicle standard; LEV IV emissions regulations for the light-duty fleet post-2025 (GHG reductions of about 5% per year); Phase 2 GHG regulations for medium and heavy-duty (MD and HD) vehicles; a possible ZEV regulation for trucks; more stringent carbon reduction targets for the Low Carbon Fuel Standard; and others.

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Iogen proposes new method to increase renewable content of transportation fuels; renewable hydrogen from biogas for refinery hydrogenation units

January 23, 2014

Cellulosic biofuel and biochemical company Iogen Corporation has developed and filed for patents on a new method to increase the renewable energy content of liquid transportation fuels. The production method involves processing biogas to deliver renewable hydrogen and then incorporating the renewable hydrogen into conventional liquid fuels via selected refinery hydrogenation units.

The company estimates there is refining capacity in place to incorporate 5-6 billion gallons per year of renewable hydrogen content into gasoline and diesel fuel. Iogen says it will initially commercialize the approach using landfill biogas, and then expand production using biogas made in the cellulosic ethanol facilities it is currently developing.

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FTA to award up to $24.9M to low- or no-emissions transit bus projects

January 10, 2014

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced the availability of $24.9 million of Fiscal Year 2013 funds (FTA-2014-001-TRI) for the deployment of low- or no-emission (LoNo) transit buses. Of that amount, $21.6 million is available for buses and $3.3 million is available for supporting facilities and related equipment.

The LoNo Program provides funding for transit agencies for capital acquisitions and leases of zero emission and low-emission transit buses, including acquisition, construction, and leasing of required supporting facilities such as recharging, refueling, and maintenance facilities.

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Toyota opens CES with strong affirmation of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles; “staggering” rate of cost reduction; FCV on sale in US in 2015

January 07, 2014

Toyota opened the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) with a strong affirmation of the benefits of and potential for hydrogen fuel cell technology. “We aren’t trying to re-invent the wheel; just everything necessary to make them turn,” said Bob Carter, senior vice president of automotive operations for Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), USA, Inc. “Fuel cell electric vehicles will be in our future sooner than many people believe, and in much greater numbers than anyone expected.

Toyota showcased both its latest fuel cell vehicle concept (the FCV Concept, earlier post), showing what the four-door mid-size sedan will look like in Radiant Blue; and the camouflage-taped engineering prototype used for extensive and extreme on-road testing in North America for more than a year. The prototype has consistently delivered a driving range of about 300 miles (~500 km), zero-to-sixty acceleration of about 10 seconds, with no emissions other than water vapor. Refueling of its hydrogen tanks takes three to five minutes.

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Swiss WTW study finds important role for alternative fuels as well as alt drivetrains in move to low-emissions vehicles

January 03, 2014

Pev
WTW energy demand and GHG emissions for EV and PHEV drivetrains for various electricity sources; gasoline ICE vehicle is solid square, hybrid the hollow square. Click to enlarge.

A comprehensive analysis of well-to-wheel (WTW) primary energy demand and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for the operation of conventional and alternative passenger vehicle drivetrains in Switzerland has concluded that alternative combustion fuels—not only alternative drivetrains such as PEVs or FCVs—play an important role in the transition towards low-emission vehicles.

The study by a team at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, reported in the Journal of Power Sources, is novel in three respects, the researchers said. First, it considers the performance of both mature and novel hydrogen production processes, multiple electricity generation pathways and several alternative drivetrains. Second, it is specific to Switzerland. Third, the analysis offers a novel comparison of drivetrain and energy carrier production pathways based on natural resource categories.

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DOE releases three reports showing strong growth in US fuel cell and hydrogen market

December 20, 2013

The US Department of Energy (DOE) released three new reports showcasing strong growth across the US fuel cell and hydrogen technologies market. According to these reports, the US continues to be one of the world’s largest and fastest growing markets for fuel cell and hydrogen technologies. In 2012, nearly 80% of total investment in the global fuel cell industry was made in US companies.

The three reports are (1) the 2012 Fuel Cell Technologies Market Report, which describes data compiled in 2013 on trends in the fuel cell industry for 2012 with some comparison to previous years; (2) States of the States, Fuel Cells in America 2013, which provides an updated snapshot of fuel cell and hydrogen activity in the 50 states and District of Columbia; and (3) 2013 Pathways to Commercial Success: Technologies and Products Supported by the Fuel Cell Technologies Office, which updates the results of an effort to identify and characterize commercial and near-commercial (emerging) technologies and products that benefited from the support of the Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) and its predecessor programs within DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

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DOE awarding $7+ million to four hydrogen and fuel cell projects, including fuel cell delivery trucks

December 17, 2013

The US Department of Energy (DOE) is awarding more than $7 million to four projects that will help bring cost-effective, advanced hydrogen and fuel cell technologies online faster for both mobile and stationary applications.

Private industry and DOE’s national laboratories have already helped to reduce automotive fuel cell costs by more than 50% since 2006 and by more than 30% since 2008. Fuel cell durability has doubled and the amount of expensive platinum needed in fuel cells has fallen by 80% since 2005. Building on this progress, the new projects will help further reduce the cost of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, expand fueling infrastructure and build a strong domestic supply chain in the United States. These projects include:

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DOE issues Request for Information on financing strategies for light-duty H2 fueling infrastructure

December 13, 2013

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a Request for Information (RFI) (DE-FOA-0001055) for light-duty fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) fueling infrastructure financing strategies within the context of an early market introduction.

The purpose of this RFI is to solicit feedback from the financial/investment/business community and light-duty vehicle (LDV) hydrogen transportation stakeholders. This input will augment financing strategies that DOE analyzes for public deployment of infrastructure for supporting FCEV introduction in US markets. Such financing strategies should maximize financing, for example, with debt and equity, while minimizing public incentives.

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Ballard signs MOU with Van Hool for further fuel cell bus deployments; next-gen FCvelocity-HD7 power module

December 06, 2013

Ballard Power Systems has signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Van Hool NV, Europe’s fourth largest bus manufacturer, in support of the manufacture and further deployment of fuel cell buses. By February 2014, the companies plan jointly to respond to last week’s call for proposals under the EU Hydrogen Fuel Cell Joint Undertaking, and also plan jointly to respond to other future calls for proposals under the Horizon 2020 program. (Earlier post.)

For the newly funded buses, Ballard will deliver its next-generation fuel cell power module to Van Hool for incorporation into hybrid bus platforms. This new FCvelocity-HD7 power module will offer improved durability and reliability along with significant cost reduction. (Earlier post.)

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Study suggests fuel cell hybrid with supercapacitors for energy storage the most fuel efficient

December 02, 2013

An evaluation of different fuel cell hybrid electric vehicle (FCHEV) powertrain designs—such as fuel cell/supercapacitor (FC/SC), fuel cell/battery (FC/B), and a combination of supercapacitors and batteries (FC/SC/B)—and different control strategies by researchers in Belgium concluded that the FC/SC HEV has slightly higher fuel economy than the FC/B HEV and FC/B/SC HEV powertrains.

This, the researchers suggested in a paper presented at the recent EVS 27 conference in Barcelona, was due to the use of the efficient supercapacitors for the majority of the transient-power requirements (the SC can be charged or discharged at a high current, at which the battery cannot function). The fuel economy of the supercapacitor fuel cell hybrid, they noted, is higher despite the vehicle being heavier and more expensive.

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UK government awards £598K for hydrogen fuel cell range extender with micro-bead H2 storage for BEVs

November 28, 2013

The UK Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) have awarded £598,000 (US$980,000) to micro-bead hydrogen storage company Cella Energy (earlier post) and its partners MIRA, Coventry University and Productiv to develop a hydrogen generation system to extend the range of battery electric vehicles. The award is part of the Low Carbon Vehicle Innovation Platform Integrated Delivery Programme 8 (IDP8) competition.

In an existing TSB-funded project called “Breakthrough in Energy Storage Technology,” Cella, MIRA, Unipart Eberspacher Exhaust Systems and Productiv are developing a 1 kW hydrogen generator using Cella Energy’s lightweight hydrogen storage material. The aim of this new project is to take this technology and scale it to a 5 kW unit to power a small electric vehicle produced by Microcab Ltd, a spinout company from Coventry University.

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Euro Parliament Transport Committee backs draft directive mandating expansion of alternative fuel stations; grandfathering CHAdeMO

November 26, 2013

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Minimum number of publicly-accessible recharging points for electric vehicles in each member state. Click to enlarge.

EU member states would have to ensure that specified numbers of publicly-available electric vehicle recharging points and hydrogen and natural gas stations are built by 2020, under a draft directive endorsed by the Transport and Tourism Committee of the European Parliament on Tuesday. The draft rules aim to reduce dependence on oil and boost take-up of alternative fuels, so as to help achieve a 60% cut in greenhouse gas emissions from transport by 2050.

Private sector players should play a leading role in developing this infrastructure, but member states should provide tax and public procurement incentives for them to do so, say the members of Parliament (MEPs). The directive specifies that:

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Mercedes-Benz reports on 3.3M km of B-Class Fuel Cell testing, looks ahead to next generation

November 25, 2013

While Hyundai, Toyota and Honda seized much attention over their presentations of fuel cell rollout plans (in the case of Hyundai) and concepts (in the case of Honda and Toyota) at the Los Angeles and Tokyo auto shows, Daimler used EVS27 in Barcelona as a forum to report on its 3.3 million kilometers (2 million miles) of experience with the Mercedes-Benz B-Class Fuel Cell fleet as well as the main technical targets envisioned for the next generation fuel cell electric car. (Earlier post.)

Mercedes-Benz began production of the B-Class F-Cell in 2009; 200 units of the vehicle were produced under standard production process at Mercedes-Benz facilities and delivered to customers worldwide.

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California Energy Commission to award up to $29.9M to hydrogen refueling infrastructure projects

November 24, 2013

The California Energy Commission (CEC) will award up to $29.9 million to projects to develop hydrogen refueling infrastructure in California (PON-13-607).

The solicitation has two goals: 1) to develop infrastructure necessary to dispense hydrogen transportation fuel; and 2) to provide needed Operation and Maintenance (O&M) funding to support hydrogen refueling operations prior to the large—scale roll—out of Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCVs). CEC will provide funding to construct, to upgrade, or to support hydrogen refueling stations that expand the network of publicly accessible hydrogen refueling stations to serve the current population of FCVs and accommodate the planned large—scale roll—out of FCVs beginning in 2015.

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Hyundai to offer Tucson Fuel Cell vehicle to LA-area retail customers in spring 2014; Honda, Toyota show latest FCV concepts targeting 2015 launch (corrected)

November 21, 2013

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Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell. Click to enlarge.

At the Los Angeles Auto Show, Hyundai announced plans to offer its next-generation Tucson Fuel Cell vehicle for the US market for $499 per month, including unlimited free hydrogen refueling and At Your Service Valet Maintenance at no extra cost. Availability begins in Spring 2014 at several Southern California Hyundai dealers.

Also at the LA Auto Show, the new Honda FCEV Concept made its world debut. The concept expresses a potential styling direction for Honda’s next-generation fuel-cell vehicle anticipated to launch in the US and Japan in 2015, followed by Europe. At the Tokyo Motor Show, Toyota highlighted its own new FCV Concept with a world premiere.

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US DOE to award $4M to support projects on hydrogen delivery technology for fuel cell vehicle refueling

November 16, 2013

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award at least $4 million (subject to appropriations) (DE-FOA-0000821) to support research and development efforts for hydrogen delivery technology for fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) refueling. DOE’s long-term goal of production and delivery research and development (R&D) is a high-volume hydrogen cost goal of $2-$4 per gallon gasoline equivalent (gge) (produced, delivered and dispensed, but untaxed) to allow FCEVs to be competitive on a dollar per mile basis with gasoline in hybrid electric vehicles.

Delivery’s portion of that cost goal is $1-$2/gge hydrogen. The solicitation seeks to move technologies towards reaching that cost target by addressing the cost of hydrogen compression, storage, and dispensing at the fueling station. The funding opportunity announcement (FOA) identifies three topics of interest:

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NSF/DOE partnership to award up to $18M for H2 production via advanced solar water-splitting technologies; separate DOE solicitation

November 14, 2013

A National Science Foundation and US Department of Energy (DOE) partnership on hydrogen production via solar water-splitting will award (NSF 14-511) up to $18 million to support the discovery and development of advanced materials systems and chemical processes for direct photochemical and/or thermochemical water splitting for application in the solar production of hydrogen fuel.

NSF and DOE are jointly funding this program solicitation issued by the NSF Chemical, Bioengineeering, Environmental and Transport Systems (CBET) Division; NSF expects to make 3 to 5 awards, each of up to 3-years duration. The DOE Fuel Cell Technologies Office also issued a separate solicitation for work a broader range of hydrogen production technologies. (DE-FOA-0000826)

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Toyota showing latest fuel cell concept, hybrid minivan, other future mobility vehicles at Tokyo show

November 05, 2013

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Toyota FCV Concept. Click to enlarge.

Toyota confirmed that it will display its latest fuel cell vehicle concept along with four other world premiere future mobility concepts at the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show. The Toyota FCV Concept is a practical concept of the fuel cell vehicle Toyota plans to launch around 2015 as a pioneer in the development of hydrogen-powered vehicles. The vehicle has a driving range of at least 500 km (311 miles) and refueling times as low as three minutes, roughly the same time as for a gasoline vehicle.

The Toyota FC Stack has a power output density of 3 kW/L, more than twice that of the current “Toyota FCHV-adv” FC Stack, and an output of at least 100 kW. In addition, the FC system is equipped with Toyota’s high-efficiency boost converter. Increasing the voltage has made it possible to reduce the size of the motor and the number of fuel cells, leading to a smaller system offering enhanced performance at reduced cost.

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Duke team develops new core-shell copper nanowire catalyst for efficient water oxidation for solar fuels

October 25, 2013

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A transparent film of copper nanowires was transformed into an electrocatalyst for water oxidation by electrodeposition of Ni or Co onto the surface of the nanowires. Chen et al. Click to enlarge.

A team led by Benjamin J. Wiley at Duke University has introduced a new electrocatalyst for water oxidation consisting of a conductive network of core-shell nanowires that is just as efficient as conventional metal oxide films on indium tin oxide (ITO) and a great deal more transparent and robust. A paper on their work is published in the journal Angewandte Chemie.

Water oxidation (2H2O → O2 + 4e- + 4H+) is a key step for converting solar energy into chemical fuels. Nickel and cobalt oxides are attractive anode materials for the oxidation of water because they are readily available and demonstrate high catalytic activity. For use in photoelectric synthesis cells, in which chemical conversions are driven by light, the oxides are typically electrodeposited onto ITO substrates. ITO is used because of its high transmittance and low sheet resistance.

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Governors of 8 states sign MoU to put 3.3M zero-emission vehicles on roads by 2025; 15% of new vehicle sales

October 24, 2013

The governors of 8 states—California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont—have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to take specific actions to put 3.3 million zero emission vehicles on the roads in their states by 2025, along with the refueling infrastructure required to support those vehicles. Zero-emission vehicles include battery-electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles, and hydrogen fuel-cell-electric vehicles; the technologies can be applied in passenger cars, trucks and transit buses.

The 3.3 million ZEVs would represent a new vehicle market penetration for the group of states of about 15%, said Mary Nichols, Chairman of the California Air Resources Board (ARB), during a conference call announcing the agreement. This multi-state effort is intended to expand consumer awareness and demand for zero-emission vehicles. Collectively, the eight signatory states represent more than 23% of the US car market.

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Clariant supplying SNG catalyst for methanation unit in Audi’s new “Power-to-Gas” plant

October 21, 2013

Clariant, a global provider of specialty chemicals, has supplied a proprietary CO2-SNG (synthetic natural gas) catalyst for the methanation unit of Audi’s new power-to-gas facility in Werlte, Germany. (Earlier post.)

The “e-gas plant” was started up in June this year and is part of Audi’s sustainability initiative. The plant, which can convert six megawatts of input power, will utilize renewable electricity for electrolysis, producing oxygen and hydrogen, the latter which could one day power fuel-cell vehicles. Because there is not yet a widespread hydrogen infrastructure, however, the hydrogen is reacted with CO2 in a methanation unit to generate renewable synthetic methane, or Audi e-gas.

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Researchers develop viable catalysts for reforming of heavy gas oil to hydrogen

October 14, 2013

One approach to delivering hydrogen for the stacks in fuel cell vehicles is via the on-board reforming of hydrocarbon fuels; such an approach obviates the need for on-board hydrogen gas storage technology and leverages the existing liquid fuels infrastructure. However, using more refined low-sulfur hydrocarbon fuels can add to the overall cost of the system. Less refined fuels—such as heavy gas oil—would be less expensive; however, the higher levels of sulfur in the fuels could prove problematic for catalysts.

Now, researchers in S. Korean and Japan have synthesized hollow fiber catalysts networked with perovskite nanoparticles for the production of hydrogen from heavy gas oil reforming, some of which showed high efficiency for H2 production with substantial durability under high concentrations of S, N, and aromatic compounds. Their findings are reported in an open access paper in the journal Scientific Reports.

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GM and US Army expanding collaboration on fuel cells; up to 5-year project

September 30, 2013

General Motors and the US Army Tank Automotive Research, Development & Engineering Center (TARDEC) are expanding their collaboration in the development of hydrogen fuel cell technology. TARDEC currently is evaluating GM fuel cell vehicles in a comprehensive demonstration in Hawaii. (Earlier post.)

Through a new Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) GM and TARDEC will jointly test new hydrogen fuel cell-related materials and designs to evaluate their performance and durability before assembling them into full scale fuel cell propulsion systems. The partners said that the collaborative effort will enable them jointly to develop technology that meets both of their requirements, accomplishing more tangible results than either could achieve on its own. The project is expected to continue for up to five years.

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H2 Mobility initiative agrees on $474M plan for hydrogen refueling network in Germany; 400 stations by 2023

The six partners in the “H2 Mobility” initiative (earlier post)—Air Liquide, Daimler, Linde, OMV, Shell and Total—have signed an agreement in principle upon a specific action plan for the construction of a Germany-wide hydrogen refueling network for fuel cell powered electric vehicles.

Under the plan, the current network of 15 filling stations in Germany’s public hydrogen infrastructure will be expanded by 2023 to about 400 H2 filling stations. As a first step, the partners intend to deploy 100 hydrogen stations in Germany over the next 4 years. This would ensure a need-related supply for fuel cell powered electric vehicles to be introduced into the market in the next years, the partners said.

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Western Hydrogen produces first hydrogen from Molten Salt Gasification pilot plant

September 29, 2013

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Molten Salt Gasification Process. Click to enlarge.

Western Hydrogen Limited reported first production of hydrogen from its Molten Salt Gasification (MSG) pilot plant in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta. The MSG process, under license from Idaho National Laboratory, uses a combination of molten sodium salts (sodium carbonate and sodium hydroxide) to convert a carbon feedstock and water into hydrogen. The technology allows the production of high-pressure hydrogen without the need for compression and can use a variety of feedstocks, including renewables.

Following six years of testing at the Idaho National Laboratory, the pilot plant was constructed to demonstrate the technology’s reliability in a large-scale production facility.

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California Governor signs 6 bills to support burgeoning EV market, including $2B AB 8

September 28, 2013

Marking National Plug-in Day (NPID), California Governor Jerry Brown signed 6 bills to support California’s burgeoning electric vehicle market, including the $2-billion AB 8 (earlier post), which will continue clean vehicle and fuel incentives through 2023.

The legislation builds on the state’s efforts to help California’s electric vehicle market grow, including an Executive Order issued by Governor Brown that established a target of 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on the road in California by 2025 and a number of other long-term goals. The newly signed bills are:

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Kawasaki Heavy to build first ocean-going liquid hydrogen tanker with demo in 2017; H2 for transport, industry, power in Japan

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KHI’s view of a “CO2-free hydrogen chain”. Source: KHI. Click to enlarge.

The Nikkei reports that Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. (KHI) will build the first ocean-going ships to carry liquefied hydrogen (LH2), with plans for a demonstration test by 2017 in which liquefied hydrogen will be shipped from the state of Victoria in Australia to Japan. The project will cost ¥60 billion (US$610 million), according to the report.

As part of Japan’s WE-NET (World Energy Network) research program of the New Sunshine Project begun in 1993, Kawasaki and its other industrial colleagues in Japan have been considering the large-scale marine transportation of liquid hydrogen for some time (e.g., Abe et al., 1998). KHI has previously discussed the concept of such a hydrogen-carrying vessel as part of its Business Vision 2020.

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Ballard announces definitive agreements with Azure Hydrogen for China fuel cell bus program; next-gen FCvelocity-HD7 module

September 26, 2013

Further to the MOU announced on May 28 (earlier post), Ballard Power Systems has signed multi-year definitive agreements to support Azure Hydrogen’s fuel cell bus program for the China market. Beijing-based Azure plans to partner with Chinese bus manufacturers in a phased development program for deployment of zero emission fuel cell buses in China, utilizing Ballard’s fuel cell technology.

For the first phase of the program, Ballard has agreed to provide a license, associated equipment and Engineering Services to enable assembly of Ballard’s next-generation FCvelocity-HD7 bus power modules by Azure in China. As per the agreements, once this assembly capability is established, Azure will assemble modules with fuel cell stacks to be supplied exclusively by Ballard.

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New family of non-precious metal catalysts outperform platinum for oxygen-reduction reaction in fuel cells at 10% the production cost

September 23, 2013

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ORR polarisation curves of Pt/C and FeCo-OMPC catalysts before and after 10,000 potential cycles in O2-saturated 0.1 M HClO4. Potential cycling was carried out from 0.6 to 1.0 V vs. RHE at 50 mV s−1. Cheon et al. Click to enlarge.

Researchers from Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), Korea Institute of Energy Research (KIER), and Brookhaven National Laboratory have discovered a new family of non-precious metal catalysts based on ordered mesoporous porphyrinic carbons (M-OMPC) with high surface areas and tunable pore structures. Porphyrins are any of a class of heterocyclic compounds containing four pyrrole rings arranged in a square.

These catalysts exhibit better performance than platinum in the oxygen-reduction reaction (ORR) important for fuel cells at 10% of the production cost of a platinum catalyst, the team said. The finding, described in an open access paper in Nature’s Scientific Reports, is potentially a step towards reducing the cost of fuel cell technology—one of the impediments to widespread commercialization.

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New core-shell bi-layer nanocatalyst tolerant to CO; potential for low-temperature fuel cells with reformates

September 21, 2013

Researchers at Brookhaven National Laboratory have created a high-performing bi-layer durable nanocatalyst that is tolerant to carbon monoxide, a catalyst-poisoning impurity in hydrogen derived from natural gas. The novel core-shell structure—ruthenium coated with platinum—resists damage from carbon monoxide as it drives the energetic reactions central to electric vehicle fuel cells and similar technologies.

The single crystalline Ru cores with well-defined Pt bilayer shells address the issues in using a dissolution-prone metal, such as ruthenium, to alleviate carbon monoxide poisoning, and thereby open the door for commercialization of low-temperature fuel cells that can use inexpensive reformates (H2 with CO impurity) as the fuel, the authors noted. Their paper is published in the journal Nature Communications.

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