[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.]
DOE reports progress on development of low-carbon and renewable sources of hydrogen production
November 21, 2014
The US Department of Energy (DOE) Fuel Cell Technologies Office’ (FCTO) 2014 Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program Annual Progress Report (earlier post)—an annual summary of results from projects funded by DOE’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program—described progress in the field of hydrogen production.
The objective of the Hydrogen Production sub-program is to reduce the cost of hydrogen dispensed at the pump to a cost that is competitive on a cents-per-mile basis with competing vehicle technologies. Based on current analysis, this translates to a hydrogen threshold cost of <$4 per kg hydrogen (produced, delivered, and dispensed, but untaxed) by 2020, apportioned to <$2/kg for production only.
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.)
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.
Honda to provide $13.8M to FirstElement Fuel to support build out of California hydrogen refueling infrastructure
Seeking to expand California’s public hydrogen refueling station network as a means to support the wider introduction of fuel-cell vehicles, Honda will provide $13.8 million in financial assistance to FirstElement Fuel to build additional hydrogen refueling stations around the state. Additional state grants, combined with the Honda financing, could enable FirstElement to add at least 12 stations to its California hydrogen network.
FirstElement received grants totaling nearly $27 million from the California Energy Commission earlier this year to build a network of 19 stations around the state. The state of California has a plan to invest $200 million into hydrogen station development over the next several years. This financial support from Honda, along with anticipated future grants from the State of California, will allow FirstElement to expand its network of stations by more than 50%, to at least 31 stations.
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.
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.
DOE reports progress on development of hydrogen storage technologies
The US Department of Energy (DOE) Fuel Cell Technologies Office’ (FCTO) 2014 Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program Annual Progress Report (earlier post)—an annual summary of results from projects funded by DOE’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program—described a number of advances in the field of hydrogen storage.
The DOE Hydrogen Storage sub-program has developed a dual strategy. For the near-term, the focus is on improving performance and lowering the cost of high-pressure compressed hydrogen storage systems. For the long-term, the effort is on developing advanced cold/cryo-compressed and materials-based hydrogen storage system technologies.
Toshiba to partner with Kawasaki City on 5-year demo of independent energy supply system utilizing solar power and hydrogen
November 14, 2014
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.)
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.”
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.)
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).
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.
Daimler opens new MB R&D center in Beijing, presents G-Code hydrogen-electric plug-in hybrid all-wheel drive concept
November 04, 2014
Daimler Greater China opened its new 865-million RMB Mercedes-Benz Research & Development Center in China and extended its local R%D network in Beijing. A new Advanced Design Studio is a centerpiece of the R&D facility and represents the company’s new design hub in Asia. At the official opening, Gorden Wagener, Head of Design Daimler AG, presented the Mercedes-Benz G-Code plug-in hybrid crossover show car.
The G-Code is powered by two individually controlled drive cores: a compact, turbocharged hydrogen-fueled combustion engine which solely drives the front wheels, and an electric motor which drives the rear axle and transmits its power selectively to the two wheels via a dual multi-disc clutch. Disclaimer: Mercedes-Benz emphasized that the G-Code, like the previously introduced Ener-G-Force and GT 6 vehicle studies, “makes absolutely no claim to be implemented within foreseeable periods.”
Rice University researchers create dual-purpose edge-oriented MoS2 film for energy storage, hydrogen catalysis
November 03, 2014
The Rice lab of chemist James Tour has turned molybdenum disulfide’s two-dimensional form into a edge-oriented nanoporous film that can catalyze the production of hydrogen or be used for energy storage as part of a supercapacitor device.
The versatile chemical compound, classified as a dichalcogenide, is inert along its flat sides; however, previous studies determined the material’s edges are highly efficient catalysts for hydrogen evolution reaction (HER), a process used in fuel cells to pull hydrogen from water. Tour and his colleagues found a cost-effective way to create flexible films of the material that maximize the amount of exposed edge and have potential for a variety of energy-oriented applications. A paper on the research appears in the journal Advanced Materials.
DOE seeking feedback on findings of hydrogen production and delivery workshops
October 29, 2014
The US Department of Energy's Fuel Cell Technologies Office has issued two requests for information (RFIs) seeking feedback from the research community and relevant stakeholders about electrolytic hydrogen production (DE-FOA-0001188) and hydrogen delivery research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) activities (DE-FOA-0001187) aimed at developing technologies that can ultimately produce and deliver low-cost hydrogen.
The purpose of these RFIs is to solicit feedback from industry, academia, research laboratories, government agencies, and other stakeholders on issues related to electrolytic hydrogen production pathways and hydrogen transmission and distribution, specifically with respect to reports developed at workshops on the topics convened by the DOE in February.
DOE launches $1M H2 Refuel H-Prize for small-scale hydrogen refueling
The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) and the Hydrogen Education Foundation (HEF) launched the $1-million H2 Refuel H-Prize. The two-year competition challenges America’s engineers and entrepreneurs to develop affordable systems for small-scale hydrogen fueling. This H-Prize competition is intended to assist in expanding the hydrogen infrastructure across the country to support more transportation energy options for US consumers, including fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs).
The H2 Refuel H-Prize will award a $1-million prize to the top refueler system entry that can produce hydrogen using electricity and/or natural gas (energy sources commonly available to residential locations) and dispense the hydrogen to a vehicle. Systems considered would be at the home-scale and able to generate and dispense 1-5 kg H2/day for use at residences, or the medium-scale, generating and dispensing 5-50 kg H2/day. Medium-scale systems would serve a larger community with multiple users daily, such as a large apartment complex or retail centers to fuel small fleets of vehicles (e.g., light duty automobiles, forklifts or tractors).
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Daimler, Linde to invest €20M in 20 new H2 fueling stations in Germany, 13 by end of 2015; green hydrogen
October 08, 2014
Daimler and The Linde Group are partnering with oil and gas companies TOTAL, OMV, Avia and Hoyer this year to build 20 new hydrogen fueling stations in Germany, with 13 to be completed by the end of 2015. Daimler and Linde are each investing around €10 million for ten fueling stations each. The ‘H2 Mobility’ initiative, of which Daimler, Linde, TOTAL and OMV are also part, agreed last year on a detailed plan of action to expand the hydrogen fueling network to around 400 stations by 2023. (Earlier post.)
Linde already secures half of the hydrogen for existing Clean Energy Partnership (CEP) hydrogen fueling stations from “green” sources, and it will power the 20 new stations with fully regenerative hydrogen. The gas is obtained from crude glycerol—a by-product of biodiesel production—at a dedicated pilot plant at Linde’s gases center in Leuna. (Earlier post.) The plant reprocesses, pyrolyzes and reforms raw glycerol to produce hydrogen.
Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-CELL fuel cell vehicle cracks 300,000 kilometer mark; Daimler receives f-cell Award 2014
A B-Class F-CELL fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) (earlier post) from Mercedes-Benz’ current FCEV fleet has achieved a continuous running record of more than 300,000 kilometers (186,411 miles) under normal everyday conditions. The still running test shows that fuel cell cars are reliable even under extreme stress and over several years, Daimler said.
Produced under series production conditions, the Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-CELL has been in day-to-day use with customers in the European and US markets since 2010. The total mileage of the Daimler fuel cell fleet, which now numbers more than 300 vehicles, including numerous research vehicles, has passed the 9-million-kilometer mark (5.6 million miles). Based on the current and pending results, the Mercedes engineers expect to identify further potential for optimization, which will flow directly into the development of the next generation of fuel cell electric vehicles.
Swedish Energy Agency grants PowerCell $1.4M loan for the development of next-generation fuel cell APU system
October 06, 2014
The Swedish Energy Agency has granted fuel cell technology company PowerCell, a spinout from the Volvo Group (earlier post), a loan of SEK 10 million (US$1.385 million) for the development of the next generation PowerPac APU (auxiliary power unit) system, which converts diesel fuel into electricity via a system comprising a catalytic reformer and fuel cells. The next-generation unit covers a larger power range up to 25 kW and maintains the same tolerance towards CO and reformate gas as the present platform.
The PowerCell system comprises three modules: the fuel reformer; the fuel cell stack; and the power electronics. PowerCell selected an Auto Thermal Reactor (ATR) technology to evaporate (not combust) the diesel and extract hydrogen-rich gas with gas purity well within the limits of what a low temperature PEM fuel cell can support in terms of CO.
Linde close to completing its first retail H2 fueling station in the US; next-generation ionic compressor
|Design of the IC 90 ionic compressor. (US+EU Version) Source: Linde. Click to enlarge.|
Linde LLC is close to completing the first retail hydrogen fueling station the company will operate in the US. The station, which Linde expects to be online before the end of the year, is being installed at the Ramos Oil Company multi-fuel station in West Sacramento, California, where Ramos currently retails gasoline, diesel, bio-diesel, ethanol-85, methanol, and racing fuels.
At the heart of the hydrogen fueling system is the 900-bar Linde IC 90 ionic compressor: the next generation of hydrogen compression technology which enables higher throughput and enhanced back-to-back fueling. (The 900 bar pressure enables drivers to refuel quickly at 700 bar.) Linde currently has the IC 50 ionic compressor installed at California’s AC Transit bus refueling station.
Hyundai showcasing new downsized turbo engines and 7-speed dual-clutch transmission; i40 48V Hybrid, i30 CNG
October 02, 2014
|New engines and transmission. Click to enlarge.|
Hyundai Motor is showcasing two new turbocharged gasoline direct injected (T-GDI) engines at the Paris Motor Show 2014. Both engines—1.0-liter and 1.4-liter units which are part of a new generation of engines from the Kappa family—meet growing demand for small capacity, turbocharged engines to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emission without compromising performance.
In addition, Hyundai is premiering at the Paris show its first 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, fitted into the i30 CNG natural gas concept car, which contributes to improved fuel efficiency. Hyundai is also displaying the diesel i40 48V hybrid concept, featuring a lead-carbon battery.
EPFL team develops low-cost water splitting cell with solar-to-hydrogen efficiency of 12.3%
September 26, 2014
A team led by Dr. Michael Grätzel at EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne) in Switzerland has developed a highly efficient and low-cost water-splitting cell combining an advanced perovskite tandem solar cell and a bi-functional Earth-abundant catalyst.
The combination of the two delivers a water-splitting photocurrent density of around 10 milliamperes per square centimeter, corresponding to a solar-to-hydrogen efficiency of 12.3%. (Currently, perovskite instability limits the cell lifetime.) Their paper is published in the journal Science. In a companion Perspective in the journal, Dr. Thomas Hamann of Michigan State University, who was not involved with the study, called Grätzel’s team’s work “an important step towards achieving [the] goal” of quickly developing alternative sources of energy that can replace fossil fuels.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
SwRI receives $1.8M DOE award to develop linear motor reciprocating compressor for hydrogen
July 23, 2014
|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.
NIST develops prototype meter test for hydrogen refueling stations
July 22, 2014
|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.
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.
SAE publishes SAE J2601 standard to harmonize H2 fueling of Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles worldwide
July 16, 2014
|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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Toyota to launch its fuel cell vehicle in Japan before April 2015, priced around $68,700; reveals exterior
|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.
RAL proposes new efficient and low-cost process to crack ammonia for hydrogen using sodium amide; transportation applications
June 23, 2014
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.
US Hybrid awarded contract to deliver plug-in fuel cell shuttle bus to Hawaii County Mass Transit Agency
June 19, 2014
|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.
Hyundai delivers keys to first Tucson Fuel Cell customer; leasing for $499/mo, with unlimited free fueling; first drive
June 11, 2014
|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.
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.
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:
8-state alliance releases action plan to put 3.3M ZEVs on their roads by 2025
May 29, 2014
|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.
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.
Intelligent Energy unveils next-generation, integrated, compact fuel cell power unit; developed with Suzuki
May 21, 2014
|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.
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.
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.
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:
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.)
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.
Sandia Labs and NREL leading new DOE hydrogen infrastructure project; H2FIRST
May 01, 2014
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.
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.
Researchers use neutron crystallography to show outcome of hydrogen cleavage by catalyst; helping to build better fuel cell catalyst
April 24, 2014
|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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
JEC updates well-to-wheels study on automotive fuels and powertrains; electro-mobility, natural gas and biofuels
March 27, 2014
|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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Honda R&D installs hydrogen refueling station for field validation of new MC Fill dynamic fast-fill protocol
March 04, 2014
|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.
Researchers at Berkeley and Argonne labs discover highly active new class of nanocatalysts for fuel cells; more efficient, lower cost
February 28, 2014
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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%.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Swiss WTW study finds important role for alternative fuels as well as alt drivetrains in move to low-emissions vehicles
January 03, 2014
|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.
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.
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:
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.
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.)
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.
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.
Euro Parliament Transport Committee backs draft directive mandating expansion of alternative fuel stations; grandfathering CHAdeMO
November 26, 2013
|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:
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.
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.