[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.]
Hydrogen from sunlight, but as a dark reaction; time-delayed photocatalytic H2 production
December 09, 2016
A team at the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research, Germany, and collaborators at ETH Zurich and the University of Cambridge, have developed a system that enables time-delayed photocatalytic hydrogen generation—essentially, an artificial photosynthesis system that can operate in the dark. A paper on their work is published in the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition.
The system uses a carbon nitride-based material that can harvest and store sunlight as long-lived trapped electrons for redox chemistry in the dark. More specifically, the system comprises a partially anionic, cyanamide-functionalized heptazine polymer, which, in the presence of an appropriate electron donor, forms a radical species under irradiation that has a lifetime of more than 10 hours. This ultra-long-lived radical can reductively produce hydrogen in the presence of a hydrogen evolution catalyst in the dark on demand.
Nikola Motor unveils prototype Class 8 fuel cell range-extended electric truck, plans for H2 fueling network
December 06, 2016
At an event at its Salt Lake City headquarters last week, startup Nikola Motor Company (NMC) unveiled the first public prototype of its Nikola One Class 8 hydrogen fuel cell range-extended electric truck, as well as renderings of the Nikola Two Class 8 day cab version. The company also announced its plan for a network of 364 hydrogen fueling stations across the US and Canada (Nikola is bundling fuel with the truck), and unveiled a 107 kWh battery pack for the Nikola Zero UTV along with a business plan to sell packs to OEMs.
The Nikola One utilizes a fully electric drivetrain featuring a 320 kWh Li-ion battery pack (32,000 cells) and a nearly 300 kW fuel cell stack powering a 6x4 four-wheel electric drive (four 800V AC motors) with torque vectoring. Delivering more than 1,000 hp (746 kW) and 2,000 lb-ft of torque, the Nikola One will have an expected range of 800-1,200 miles, the company said.
SGL Group is development partner for GDLs in high-performance fuel cells in the automotive sector
December 01, 2016
Carbon specialist SGL Group is a development partner in the European joint development project INSPIRE (Integration of Novel Stack Components for Performance, Improved DuRability and LowEr Cost), which has been funded with a €7-million (US$7.4-million) award from Europe’s Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) and will run for three years. (Earlier post.)
The aim of INSPIRE is to develop a new generation of fuel cells with higher performance and longer lifetime. SGL Group brings its long-established expertise as a component developer to the project, and is responsible for the development of the gas diffusion layers (GDL), which will be manufactured based on carbon fibers.
NREL report finds hydrogen fuel cell bus fuel economy up to 1.4x that of diesel, 1.9x CNG
The US Department of Energy (DOE) Fuel Cell Technology Office (FCTO) has released the latest edition of an annual report showing that the average fuel economy of fuel cell electric buses from three fleets is 6.8 miles per diesel gallon equivalent (DGE) (ranging from 5.56 - 7.71 DGE), 1.4 times higher than conventional diesel buses (~4.2 miles per DGE) from one fleet and up to 1.9 times higher than compressed natural gas buses (~3.3 miles per DGE) in another fleet.
This demonstrates significant fuel economy improvement toward the DOE and Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) target of 8 miles per DGE. FCEB durability has reached 23,000 hours, surpassing FCTO’s 2016 target of 18,000 hours, and range has reached up to 340 miles (547 km), more than 13% above the 2016 target of 300 miles (483 km).
Ballard signs fuel cell supply agreement with Solaris; initial order of 10 modules as range extenders for electric trolley buses
November 30, 2016
Ballard Power Systems has signed a Long-Term Sales Agreement (LTSA) with Solaris Bus & Coach, a bus OEM headquartered in Poland, for the sale and supply of fuel cell modules to support deployment of Solaris fuel cell buses in Europe. An initial order placed under the LTSA is for 10 FCveloCity-HD fuel cell modules, with deliveries planned to start in 2017.
Each 85 kilowatt FCveloCity-HD fuel cell module that has been ordered will be deployed as a range extender in a Solaris Trollino model low-floor trolley bus. Solaris has signed a contract with Rigas Satiksme, the transport operator in the city of Riga, Latvia for 10 of the Trollino trolley buses.
Stanford team uses battery electrode materials to boost platinum catalytic performance for fuel cells
November 25, 2016
A team at Stanford University has developed a method for using battery electrode materials directly and continuously to control the lattice strain of a platinum (Pt) catalyst, thereby boosting catalytic activity for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) in fuel cells by up to nearly 90%. A paper on their work is published in Science.
Modifying the electronic structure of catalysts can improve their performance; lattice strain (either compressive or tensile) modifies the distances between surface atoms and hence modifies catalytic activity. However, the common approach of using metal overlayers to induce strain has some control issues, such as introducing ligand effects.
Loop Energy introduces fuel cell range extender for heavy-duty vehicles; in-service operation to begin in 2017
Loop Energy (earlier post) has introduced a new range-extender (REX) power module for heavy-duty electric transport vehicles. At the core of the module is Loop’s unique fuel cell design which improves performance, durability and cost. Following a three-year development period, the Loop power module is now being integrated by an original equipment manufacturer and will begin in-service operation in 2017.
Loop’s patented eFlow fuel cell features an improved design, and is the competitive advantage within all Loop fuel cell stacks and power modules. By optimizing air flow inside the fuel cell, Loop’s eFlow design produces greater power density than industry-standard fuel cells, the company says. This higher power density allows Loop to simplify and significantly increase the efficiency of the fuel cell stack and system.
Detailed snapshots of photosynthesis at room temperature using SLAC’s X-ray laser show water-splitting reaction
November 21, 2016
One of its molecular mysteries of photosynthesis involves how the photosystem II protein complex harvests energy from sunlight and uses it to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.
Now, an international team of researchers has used femtosecond pulses from an X-ray free electron laser (XFEL) at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory to capture the highest resolution room-temperature (RT) images of this protein complex, allowing scientists to watch closely how water is split during photosynthesis at the temperature at which it occurs naturally. A paper on the work is published in the journal Nature.
DOE announces $30M in funding for hydrogen and fuel cell technologies
November 18, 2016
The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced approximately $30 million in available funding (DE-FOA-0001647), subject to appropriations, for research and development of low-cost hydrogen production, onboard hydrogen storage, and proton exchange membrane fuel cells to advance the widespread commercialization of fuel cell electric vehicles.
Selected projects will leverage national lab consortia launched under DOE’s Energy Materials Network (EMN) this past year, in support of DOE’s materials research and advanced manufacturing priorities. The EMN consortia have been established to make unique, world-class capabilities at the national laboratories more accessible to industry, facilitating collaborations that will expedite the development and manufacturing of advanced materials for commercial markets.
Ultrafine jagged Pt nanowires extremely efficient ORR catalysts; 50x more power than current commercial catalyst
An international team led by researchers at UCLA and Caltech has demonstrated that altering the form of platinum nanoscale wires from a smooth surface to a jagged one can significantly reduce the amount of precious metal required as a catalyst for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) in fuel cells and thus lower the cost. According to the findings, the newly developed catalyst is so active that the amount of platinum required for a fuel cell could be 1/50 of what is needed today.
In a paper published in Science, the team reports that the jagged Pt nanowires exhibit an ECSA (electrochemical active surface area) of 118 m2 per gram Pt and a specific activity of 11.5 mA per square centimeter for ORR for a mass activity of 13.6 ampere per milligram Pt, nearly doubling previously reported best values. Reactive molecular dynamics simulations suggested that the highly stressed, under-coordinated rhombohedral-rich surface configurations of the jagged nanowire enhanced ORR activity versus more relaxed surfaces.
Compact pilot plant for solar to liquid fuels production
November 09, 2016
Partners from Germany and Finland in the SOLETAIR project are building a compact pilot plant for the production of gasoline, diesel and kerosene from solar energy, regenerative hydrogen and carbon dioxide. The plant will be compact enough to fit into a shipping container.
The plant consists of three components. A direct air capture unit developed by the Technical Research Center of Finland (VTT) extracts carbon dioxide from air. An electrolysis unit developed by Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) produces the required hydrogen by means of solar power. A microstructured, chemical reactor—the key component of the plant—converts the hydrogen produced from solar power together with carbon dioxide into liquid fuels. This reactor was developed by KIT. The compact plant was developed to maturity and is now being commercialized by KIT spin-off INERATEC.
DOE FY17 SBIR Phase I Release 2 topics include fuel cells, EV batteries, engines
November 08, 2016
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced the 2017 Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) Phase I Release 2 topics, including three subtopics focused on hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. The fuel cell subtopics include innovative materials for bipolar plates; liquid organic hydrogen carriers; and emergency hydrogen refuelers.
The Phase I Release 2 topics also include four vehicle subtopics, including electric drive vehicle batteries; SiC device qualification for electric drive vehicle power electronics; fuel efficiency improvement technologies for conventional stoichiometric gasoline direct injection multi-cylinder internal combustion engines; and wide-range high-boost turbocharging system. Further, a technology transfer opportunity is the use of a new Argonne catalyst for reducing NOx.
Québec moves forward with a zero-emission vehicle standard
October 29, 2016
Earlier this week, the Québec National Assembly unanimously adopted Bill 104, a zero-emission vehicle standard. Automakers that sell or lease a yearly average of more than 4,500 new vehicles (all light models combined) will be subject to the ZEV standard.
In its 2015-2020 Transportation Electrification Action Plan, Québec set a target of 100,000 registered plug-in vehicles by 2020. The bill gives the Government of Québec the powers it needs to require car manufacturers to sell a minimum of zero-emission vehicles through a tradable credit system.
California SCAQMD partnering with Livermore and Los Alamos researchers on H2 sensor demonstrations
The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), the air pollution control agency for Orange County and major portions of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties, is partnering with researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) on a demonstration of highly sensitive hydrogen sensor prototypes at two hydrogen-refueling stations in Burbank and Chino.
The initial development of the sensors has spanned more than a decade, mostly led by teams at LLNL headed by chemist Bob Glass, until his retirement in 2014, and Eric Brosha at LANL. The sensors can detect the amount of the colorless, odorless gas in the atmosphere at 1 percent to 4 percent concentrations, the critical range for safety applications, without triggering false alarms and with very rapid response time.
Ballard closes JV deal for fuel cell stack production in China
October 26, 2016
Ballard Power Systems has closed of its joint venture transaction with Guangdong Nation Synergy Hydrogen Power Technology Co. Ltd. (Synergy) for the establishment of an FCvelocity-9SSL fuel cell stack production operation in the City of Yunfu, in China’s Guangdong Province. (Earlier post.) As of closing, Ballard received initial payments totaling $10.9 million.
The fuel cell stacks manufactured by the JV are expected to be used primarily in locally-assembled fuel cell systems to provide propulsion power for zero-emission buses and commercial vehicles in China.
Rice University scientists find O-doped boron nitride-graphene hybrid excellent candidate for on-board hydrogen storage
October 25, 2016
Layers of graphene separated by nanotube pillars of boron nitride (PGBN) may be a excellent material for on-board hydrogen storage in vehicles, according to a computational study by a pair of Rice University scientists. The study by Rouzbeh Shahsavari and Farzaneh Shayeganfar appears in the ACS journal Langmuir.
Shahsavari and Shayeganfar studied hydrogen storage capacities of newly designed three-dimensional pillared boron nitride (PBN) and pillared graphene boron nitride (PGBN) doped with either oxygen or lithium. Density functional theory and molecular dynamic simulations showed that these lithium- and oxygen-doped pillared structures had improved gravimetric and volumetric hydrogen capacities at room temperature, with values on the order of 9.1-11.6 wt% and 40-60 g/L.
Honda Clarity Fuel Cell EPA-rated with 366-mile range; longest of any ZEV
October 24, 2016
The Honda Clarity Fuel Cell sedan (earlier post), launching later this year, received an EPA driving range rating of 366 miles (589 km) and fuel economy rating of 68 mpg of gasoline-equivalent combined, giving it the best range rating of any electric vehicle without a combustion engine, including fuel cell and all-electric vehicles, in the United States.
Honda will introduce the new 5-passenger, hydrogen-powered Clarity Fuel Cell sedan by the end of 2016, beginning with retail leasing to customers through its expanded network of 12 approved fuel cell vehicle dealerships located in select California markets.
DOE’s $10M Advanced Water Splitting Materials Consortium accelerating development of green hydrogen production
The Energy Department (DOE) recently announced $10 million, subject to appropriations, to support the launch of the HydroGEN Advanced Water Splitting Materials Consortium (HydroGEN). (Earlier post.) This consortium will utilize the expertise and capabilities of the national laboratories to accelerate the development of commercially viable pathways for hydrogen production from renewable energy sources.
HydroGEN is being launched as part of the Energy Materials Network (EMN) that began in February of this year, crafted to give American entrepreneurs and manufacturers a competitive edge in the global development of clean energy in support of the President’s Materials Genome Initiative and advanced manufacturing priorities.
DOE awarding $3.0M cost-share contract to FuelCell Energy for solid oxide electrolyzer; converting excess electricity to H2
October 23, 2016
FuelCell Energy, Inc. is developing a solid oxide electrolysis cell (SOEC) system to convert excess electricity during periods of low power demand into hydrogen efficiently. The US Department of Energy (DOE) is supporting this development with a $3.0 million cost-share contract to advance SOEC system design that will be added to the Advanced Technology backlog for the fourth quarter of 2016.
The market for energy storage is significant for high efficiency and flexible long duration storage that is affordable for rate payers. The energy storage market is expanding as utilities adjust to manage increased levels of intermittent renewable power generation supplying the electric grid. Annual global energy storage deployments are projected to increase to approximately 7 to 9 gigawatts by 2020 with continued increases thereafter. The SOEC solution being supported with this DOE funding meets these needs for both utility-scale applications as well as on-site opportunities.
Toyota to start sales of fuel cell buses under the Toyota brand from early 2017
October 21, 2016
Toyota Motor Corporation will begin to sell fuel cell buses (FC buses) under the Toyota brand from early 2017. After repeated field tests of the hydrogen-powered buses for practical use, the Bureau of Transportation of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government plans to utilize two of the Toyota FC Buses as fixed-route buses.
Toyota plans to introduce more than 100 FC buses mainly in the Tokyo area, ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. In view of this, the FC buses will be sold for the first time in Japan in early 2017, so as to help increase the level of understanding by the general public of the utilization of FC buses as a form of public transportation.
BMW plans hydrogen fuel cell offering “early in next decade”
October 13, 2016
Speaking on the future of powertrains at the Aachen Colloquium, Klaus Fröhlich, Member of the Board of Management at BMW AG, Development, said that BMW will enter the fuel cell market early in the next decade, starting with very small production runs.
Fröhlich noted that at least until 2025 costs will remain too high and the hydrogen infrastructure too sparse to allow broad-based market penetration. However, he added, “by the time the fundamentals are in place, the BMW Group will also have marketable products ready that are attractive to customers.”
New Icon-class ships from Royal Caribbean to be powered by LNG with 2022 delivery; testing hydrogen fuel cells in 2017
October 11, 2016
The newest class of ships from Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCL) will be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) and likely will introduce the use of fuel cell technology, ushering in a new era of shipbuilding that will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The ships will join the fleet of Royal Caribbean International.
RCL has signed a memorandum of understanding with Finland shipbuilder Meyer Turku for the new class of vessel under the project name “Icon.” The around 200,000 gross ton large cruise ships will be delivered in the second quarters of 2022 and 2024. In the meantime, the company said, it will begin testing fuel cell technology on an existing Oasis-class ship in 2017, and will also run progressively larger fuel cell projects on new Quantum class vessels being built in the next several years.
Sandia study finds high-speed hydrogen-powered ferry and supporting infrastructure in SF Bay feasible
October 06, 2016
A study by two researchers at Sandia National Laboratories has concluded that building and operating a high-speed passenger ferry solely powered by hydrogen fuel cells within the context of the San Francisco Bay is technically feasible, with full regulatory acceptance as well as the requisite associated hydrogen fueling infrastructure.
Funded by the Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration and led by Sandia, the feasibility study of the SF-Breeze (San Francisco Bay Renewable Energy Electric Vessel with Zero Emissions) brought together the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), the US Coast Guard, naval architect Elliott Bay Design Group (EBDG), the Port of San Francisco and dozens of other contributors.
DOE to invest $30M to further H2 and fuel cell technology as industry continues strong growth
The US Department of Energy (DOE) Energy Department (DOE) released a new report showing continued momentum and growth in the fuel cell industry. The 2015 Fuel Cell Technologies Market Report shows that more than 60,000 fuel cells, totaling roughly 300 megawatts (MW), shipped worldwide in 2015. The number of MW shipped grew by more than 65% compared to 2014. 2015 also saw the world’s first fuel cell vehicles for sale.
To further this emerging market, DOE also announced a notice of intent (DE-FOA-0001411) to invest $30 million, subject to appropriations, to advance fuel cell and hydrogen technologies. These projects will leverage national lab consortia launched under DOE’s Energy Materials Network (EMN) this past year (earlier post), and will support the President’s Materials Genome Initiative and advanced manufacturing priorities.
Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 Fuel Cell Vehicle debuts at AUSA meeting
October 03, 2016
The Chevrolet Colorado ZH2, the extreme off-road-capable fuel-cell-powered electric vehicle from General Motors, made its debut at the fall meeting of the Association of the United States Army (AUSA). (Earlier post.)
Standing more than 6½ feet tall and more than seven feet wide, the Colorado ZH2 was built on a stretched midsize pickup chassis. Reinforced inside and out, the ZH2 rides on 37-inch tires and a specially modified suspension that helps the vehicle climb over and descend all manner of terrain.
Commissioning of initial 12 Ballard-powered buses in China’s largest fuel cell bus deployment
September 30, 2016
Ballard Power Systems announced the commissioning and deployment of an initial 12 fuel cell-powered buses in the District of Sanshui, in the City of Foshan, in the Province of Guangdong, China. The buses will be operated by Foshan Sanshui Guohong Public Transit Co. Ltd., on demonstration route #682 from Gaofeng Park Station to Shuidu Industrial Park Station.
The buses are 11 meters in length and feature advanced safety systems, 80-person capacity, anticipated driving range in excess of 300 kilometers (186 miles), expected hydrogen gas consumption of less than 6.5 kilograms per 100 kilometers, zero tailpipe emissions and remote monitoring. Unlike many battery electric bus routes, the transit route in Foshan will not require any catenary wires or on-route recharging.
Volkswagen Group & Audi accelerate fuel cell technology solutions program with Ballard
September 27, 2016
Ballard Power Systems announced that automotive OEM Audi AG has issued purchase orders to Ballard to accelerate certain key development activities under the current long-term Technology Solutions program that Volkswagen Group has with Ballard. (Earlier post.)
The current 6-year engineering services contract with Volkswagen Group runs to March 2019, with an optional 2-year extension beyond that date. The contract has an estimated value of C$100-140 million. The resulting HyMotion program encompasses automotive fuel cell stack development as well as system design support activities.
Researchers discover lower-cost, energy-efficient way to produce alane for hydrogen storage
September 23, 2016
Scientists at the US Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory, in collaboration with partners from Iowa State University, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and University of Pittsburgh, have discovered a less-expensive, more energy-efficient way to produce alane—aluminum trihydride (AlH3)—a high-capacity hydrogen source that had widely been considered to be a technological dead-end for use in automotive vehicles.
Although attractive for its high intrinsic capacity (10.1 wt% H2), small heat of formation (∼7 kJ/mol H2), and fast apparent decomposition kinetics, regeneration of spent Al by direct hydrogenation has been impractical due to the extremely high hydrogen equilibrium pressure required (∼7000 bar).
Celeroton launches its first turbo compressors with gas bearings; applied in fuel cell range extender for Fiat 500
Celeroton AG, a leading manufacturer of ultra-high-speed electrical drive systems with speeds up to 1 million rpm, has launched its first turbo compressors with gas bearings—unique in their weight and performance, being wear- and oil-free, and obtaining the highest levels of energy efficiency. The developed technology widens the horizon for application areas, where the operation of miniaturized turbo compressors has been either limited or not even possible including the oil-free air supply of fuel cells as well as low-maintenance air conditioning and heat pumps with the highest performance (in stationary as well as mobile applications e.g. hybrid and electric cars).
The gas bearing turbo compressors CT-17-700.GB and CT-17-1000.GB, with a rated speed of 280,000 rpm in air offer 100% oil-free and lubricant-free compression of air, with infinite bearing lifetime in continuous operation, a pressure ratio of up to 1.65, a mass flow of up to 24 g/s, maximum isentropic overall efficiency of 59% and a rated maximum power of 1 kW with a volume of just 530 cm3.
Hyundai introduces hydrogen fuel cell H350 light commercial van concept at IAA
September 22, 2016
Hyundai Motor is introducing a hydrogen fuel cell concept version of its H350 light commercial van at the 2016 IAA Commercial Vehicle Show in Hannover. The powertrain study shows the potential for the company’s advanced hydrogen fuel cell technology in the light commercial vehicle (LCV) segment.
Unlike a conventional electric vehicle, which requires a number of hours to recharge, the 175-liter hydrogen tank system can be filled in less than four minutes—similar to the time it takes to refill a tank of gasoline or diesel in a vehicle with a traditional internal combustion engine. The H350 Fuel Cell Concept has a total range of 422 km (262 miles).
Toyota 2017 Mirai fuel cell vehicle remains $57,500; 312-mile electric range
September 21, 2016
Toyota announced the pricing for the 2017 model year Mirai fuel cell vehicle. MY17 MSRP remains $57,500 plus an $865 destination fee. Mirai customers also may qualify for an $8,000 federal tax credit and $5,000 potential California rebate along with access to the California HOV carpool lane.
The Mirai hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle is a zero-emission vehicle with an EPA-estimated driving range of 312 miles (502 km); it refuels in around five minutes.
Alstom unveils hydrogen fuel cell regional train Coradia iLint
September 20, 2016
Alstom presented its Coradia iLint hydrogen fuel cell regional train at InnoTrans, the railway industry’s largest trade fair, taking place in Berlin from 20 to 23 September 2016.
Alstom is among the first railway manufacturers to develop a passenger train based on fuel cell technology. To make the deployment of the Coradia iLint as simple as possible for operators, Alstom offers a complete package, consisting of the train and maintenance, as well as also the whole hydrogen infrastructure thanks to help from partners.
Univ. Houston, Caltech team develops new earth-abundant, cost-effective catalyst for water-splitting
A team of researchers from the University of Houston and the California Institute of Technology has developed an active and durable earth-abundant transition metal dichalcogenide-based hybrid catalyst for water-splitting that exhibits high hydrogen evolution activity approaching the state-of-the-art platinum catalysts. The new catalyst also offers activity superior to that of most transition metal dichalcogenides (molybdenum sulfide, cobalt diselenide and so on).
The material is fabricated by growing ternary molybdenum sulfoselenide particles on self-standing porous nickel diselenide foam. In an open-access paper in the journal Nature Communications, the team said that their advance provides a different pathway to design cheap, efficient and sizable hydrogen-evolving electrode by simultaneously tuning the number of catalytic edge sites, porosity, heteroatom doping and electrical conductivity.
DOE seeking input on H2@scale: hydrogen as centerpiece of future energy system; 50% reduction in energy GHGs by 2050
September 11, 2016
Earlier this year, The US Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories identified the potential of hydrogen to decarbonize deeply a multitude of sectors in a proposal termed “H2@Scale”. Preliminary analysis performed by the national laboratories on the H2@Scale concept indicated that nearly a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is possible by 2050 via such large-scale hydrogen production and use.
The concept sees hydrogen—a flexible, clean energy-carrying intermediate—having the potential to be a centerpiece of a future energy system where aggressive market penetration of renewables (wind and solar) are coupled with renewable hydrogen production to meet society’s energy demands across industrial, transportation, and power generation sectors using clean, renewable resources and processes.
Ballard providing ten 30 kW fuel cell modules to UpPowerTech; expanding into China’s Guangxi Province
September 08, 2016
Ballard Power Systems has signed a purchase order from Shenzhen UpPower Technology Co., Ltd. (UpPowerTech), a leading fuel cell bus systems integrator in China, for the supply of 10 FCveloCity-MD 30 kW fuel cell power modules to be integrated by UpPowerTech into clean energy buses manufactured by Gaungxi Yuanzheng New Energy Co. Ltd. (Yuanzheng), a Chinese bus manufacturer, for deployment in the City of Nanning in the Province of Guangxi.
UpPowerTech previously demonstrated a hydrogen fuel cell bus, using Ballard’s new FCveloCity-MD 30-kilowatt fuel cell power module as a battery range extender, during the “4th Shenzhen International Low Carbon City Forum.” The bus was a 12-meter (40-foot) city bus with a powertrain built by UpPowerTech. The coach was manufactured by Xiamen King Long United Automotive Industry Co., Ltd. The Forum, held in Longgang District of Guangdong Province, featured low carbon urban development and innovation technologies designed to tackle global environmental challenges.
Sandia fuel cell membrane outperforms market; temperature range and durability
September 07, 2016
Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories, have developed a new membrane for fuel cells based on quaternary ammonium-biphosphate ion pairs that can operate under conditions unattainable with existing fuel cell technologies. A paper describing the Sandia-patented technology is published in the journal Nature Energy.
Fuel cells with this membrane technology exhibit stable performance at 80–160 ˚C with a conductivity decay rate more than three orders of magnitude lower than that of a commercial high-temperature PEM fuel cell. By increasing the operational flexibility, this class of fuel cell can simplify the requirements for heat and water management, and potentially reduce the costs associated with the existing fully functional fuel cell systems, the researchers said.
SLAC, Stanford team develops new catalyst for water-splitting for renewable fuels production; 100x more efficient than other acid-stable catalysts
September 02, 2016
Researchers at Stanford University and the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have developed a new highly active and stable IrOx/SrIrO3 catalyst for the oxygen evolution reaction (OER).
The new catalyst outperforms known IrOx and ruthenium oxide (RuOx) systems, the only other OER catalysts that have reasonable activity in acidic electrolyte. Because it requires less of the rare and costly metal iridium, the new catalyst could bring down the cost of artifical photosynthetic processes that use sunlight to split water molecules—a key step in a renewable, sustainable pathway to produce hydrogen or carbon-based fuels that can power a broad range of energy technologies. The team published their results in the journal Science.
Ballard MOU with strategic partner Broad-Ocean targets fuel cell modules for buses and commercial vehicles
September 01, 2016
Ballard Power Systems has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with strategic partner Zhongshan Broad-Ocean Motor Company Limited with the goal of producing fuel cell modules for use in buses and commercial vehicles in select cities and regions in China.
In July, Broad-Ocean announced a $28.3-million strategic equity investment in Ballard, through which Broad-Ocean acquired a 9.9% ownership position in Ballard, making it the company’s largest shareholder. (Earlier post.)
Ten H2 and fuel cell companies received DOE SBV round 2 awards
August 31, 2016
Among the 43 small businesses participating in the newly announced second round of the US Department of Energy (DOE) Small Business Vouchers (SBV) pilot are 10 projects in the area of hydrogen and fuel cells.
These selected projects are aimed at reducing the costs and improving the performance of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, such as finding ways to lower costs of membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs), a critical component of fuel cell stacks and electrolyzers. Some of these collaborations will explore using lower cost materials, reducing the quantity of pricey raw material required, and developing better and more precise methods in manufacturing MEAs.
GM and US Army TARDEC to reveal Chevy Colorado-based fuel cell vehicle
August 30, 2016
General Motors and the US Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) will reveal a Chevrolet Colorado-based fuel cell electric vehicle in October at the fall meeting of the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) in Washington, D.C.
The fuel-cell version of the mid-size pickup is being developed under an agreement between TARDEC and GM signed in 2015 (earlier post). The collaboration enables TARDEC to access consumer-driven automotive technology for use in military applications while providing GM with feedback on non-standard fuel cell technology applications.
Dalian team synthesizes advanced catalytic layer for fuel cell MEAs; low Pt-loading, high mass activity
August 29, 2016
Researchers at Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics (China) have synthesized an advanced catalytic layer in the membrane electroide assembly (MEA) for proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) using vertically aligned polymer–polypyrrole (PPy) nanowire arrays as ordered catalyst supports.
In a paper published in the Journal of Power Sources, they report that a single cell fitted with their MEA yields a maximum performance of 762.1 mW cm−2 with a low Pt loading (0.241 mg Pt cm−2, anode + cathode). The advanced catalyst layer indicates better mass transfer in high current density than that of commercial Pt/C-based electrode. The mass activity is 1.08-fold greater than that of US Department of Energy (DOE) 2017 target.
Swiss team develops effective and low-cost solar water-splitting device; 14.2% solar-to-hydrogen efficiency
August 25, 2016
Using commercially available solar cells and none of the usual rare metals, researchers at the Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM) and École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) have designed an intrinsically stable and scalable solar water splitting device that is fully based on earth-abundant materials, with a solar-to-hydrogen conversion efficiency of 14.2%.
The prototype system is made up of three interconnected, new-generation, crystalline silicon solar cells attached to an electrolysis system that does not rely on rare metals. The device has already been run for more than 100 hours straight under test conditions. The method, which surpasses previous efforts in terms of stability, performance, lifespan and cost efficiency, is published in the Journal of The Electrochemical Society.
Kenworth receives $8.6M in grants for low-emission T680 Day Cab drayage truck projects in California; hybrids, CNG hybrid and fuel cell
August 20, 2016
Kenworth has been awarded three government grants totaling $8.6 million that will support low emissions projects involving Kenworth T680 Day Cabs targeted for use as drayage tractors in Southern California ports.
The first two projects are funded at $1.9 million each by the US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), with Southern California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) as the prime applicant. Kenworth will build two, proof-of-concept T680 Day Cab drayage tractors to transport freight from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to warehouses and railyards along the I-710 corridor in the Los Angeles basin.
Sumitomo and US Hybrid partnering to grow hydrogen fuel cell business for commercial vehicles and mass transit
August 12, 2016
Sumitomo Corporation together with Sumitomo Corporation of Americas (collectively, SC Group) announced a strategic collaboration agreement with US Hybrid to grow US Hybrid’s fuel cell production business through the expansion of fuel cell stack production capacity. (Earlier post.) SC Group will play an integral role in the project by coordinating discussions with OEMs using the integrated trading company’s global network.
US Hybrid, together with its Fuel Cell division, US FuelCell, has more than 26 years of experience in fuel cell balance of plant components and vehicle development and deployment. US FuelCell was established in 2013 after US Hybrid purchased the UTC Power PEM fuel cell Transportation division along with the global PEM IP license. The company currently offers an 80 kW integrated fuel cell system (FCe 80) and a 150 kW system (FCe150).
Report: Sumitomo to begin selling fuel cells for commercial vehicles with US Hybrid
August 11, 2016
The Nikkei reports that Sumitomo Corp., the giant Japanese integrated trading company, will start selling fuel cells for commercial vehicles via a partnership with California-based US Hybrid. Sumitomo, which is strengthening its automobile business and expects growth in the fuel cell market, plans to supply mostly Japanese commercial vehicle makers, according to the report.
Sumitomo has been involved in fuel cell research and development of years, and already produces fuel cell components. For example, Sumitomo Metal Industries developed the world’s first high performance stainless steel for bipolar plates. The plates employed a unique method of adding low-cost alloy elements into the molten steel, resulting in the dispersion of highly conductive metal inclusions throughout the steel, thereby delivering the needed electrical conductivity.
Vanderbilt, Nissan and Georgia Tech partner on new low PGM electrospun nanofiber catalysts for improved automotive fuel cells
August 09, 2016
Vanderbilt University, Nissan North America and Georgia Institute of Technology are collaborating to test a new technique to electospin low-platinum-metal-group (low PGM) electrocatalysts with a proton-conducting binder to improve durability and performance of fuel cell electrodes. The project is one of four awarded a combined $13 million by the Department of Energy program to advance fuel cell performance and durability and hydrogen storage technologies announced last month. (Earlier post.)
The $4.5-million collaboration is based on nanofiber mat technology developed by Peter Pintauro, the H. Eugene McBrayer Professor of Chemical Engineering at Vanderbilt, that replaces the conventional electrodes used in fuel cells. The nanofiber electrodes boost the power output of fuel cells by 30% while being less expensive and more durable than conventional catalyst layers.
TU Delft student team presents Forze VII hydrogen racer
August 08, 2016
The Forze VII is built using an ADESS-03 LMP3 monocoque and is powered by a 100 kW Ballard FC Velocity MK1100 stack with Forze balance of plant along with a battery pack. Two Yasa P400 electric motors give the car a peak power of 320 kW. The gearbox, gearbox, designed and integrated by the team, has a gear ratio of 1:4.6 and weighs just 6 kg (13.23 lbs). This design of the drivetrain will accelerate the car from 0-100 km/h in less than 4 seconds. Top speed is about 210 km/h (130 mph).
Nissan unveils first Solid-Oxide Fuel Cell vehicle; fueled by ethanol, 600 km range
August 05, 2016
In Brazil, Nissan Motor revealed the first Solid Oxide Fuel-Cell (SOFC)-powered prototype vehicle that runs on bio-ethanol electric power. Research and development of the e-Bio Fuel-Cell was announced by Nissan in June in Yokohama. (Earlier post.)
The e-Bio Fuel-Cell prototype vehicle, based on a Nissan e-NV200 electric van (earlier post), is equipped with a 5 kW SOFC that runs on 100% ethanol to charge a 24 kWh battery that enables a cruising range of more than 600 km (373 miles). Nissan will conduct further field tests on public roads in Brazil using the prototype.
DOE issues Request for Information on hydrogen infrastructure RD&D
July 28, 2016
The US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) has issued a request for information (RFI) (DE-FOA-0001626) to obtain feedback from stakeholders regarding deployment of hydrogen fueling stations, delivery infrastructure, and barriers and activities to pursue in both the near and longer term.
Potential activities would complement existing FCTO activities that address the barriers hydrogen fueling stations face today, including renewable hydrogen fuel cost; station and equipment cost; station reliability and performance; codes and standards development; manufacturing needs; and outreach and training needs.
Broad-Ocean Motor in strategic collaboration with Ballard; $28.3M investment, 9.9% ownership; initial order for 10,000 fuel cell vehicles
July 27, 2016
Zhongshan Broad-Ocean Motor Co., Ltd. has entered into a strategic collaboration with Ballard Power Systems, including a $28.3-million equity investment in Ballard, representing 9.9% of the company following the transaction.
Founded in 1994, Broad-Ocean is a global manufacturer of motors that power small and specialized electric machinery for electric vehicles (EVs), including buses, commercial vehicles and passenger vehicles, and for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC). Broad-Ocean has 4 business units: EV; Rotating Electrical for Vehicles; HVAC; and EV Operations Platform.
European Strategy for low-emission mobility stresses digital tech, electrification and ZEVs
July 22, 2016
Earlier this week, the European Commission published a strategy for low-emission mobility, which sets out guiding principles to Member States to prepare for the future. EU legislation currently refers to low-emission vehicles as vehicles having tailpipe emissions below 50 g/km. This would include some plug-in hybrids, full electric cars and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. The latter two examples also represent zero-emission vehicles.
The low-emission mobility strategy will frame the initiatives that the Commission is planning in the coming years, and it maps the areas in which it is exploring options. It also shows how initiatives in related fields are linked and how synergies can be achieved. In parallel to this strategy, the Commission is launching public consultations on the approach towards reducing emissions from road transport: cars and vans as well as trucks, buses and coaches.
NRDC-sponsored Shulock report says California ZEV regulations need a tune-up to meet 2025 goals
A report commissioned by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and prepared by Chuck Shulock finds that the California Zero-Emission Vehicles (ZEV) regulations—also adopted by nine other states—requires a ‘tune-up’ to ensure the market expands well beyond current sale levels.
The findings of the report suggest that the number of vehicles required through 2025 will be smaller than originally projected in 2012 when ARB adopted the last major revisions to the ZEV program. While some of these vehicles will be higher performing in terms of electric range than the vehicles originally assumed in 2012, the net result is that the total number of ZEVs is likely to fall short of the original 2025 goals.
DOE announces FY17 SBIR Phase I Release 1 topics; includes fuel cell catalysts and hydrogen delivery
July 21, 2016
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced the 2017 Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) Phase I Release 1 topics, including two subtopics focused on hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.
The fuel cell subtopic includes novel, durable supports for low-platinum group metal (PGM) catalysts for polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells. The hydrogen delivery subtopic focuses on metal hydride materials for compression. Specific topics are:
Ballard signs follow-on technology solutions agreement for MEA development with leading global automotive OEM
Ballard Power Systems signed a follow-on Technology Solutions contract with an unnamed leading global automotive OEM. Under the contract Ballard will provide expertise in proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell technology in order to advance the customer’s membrane electrode assembly (MEA) development program related to future versions of its engine for fuel cell vehicles.
This follow-on contract involves Technology Solutions work that began with this customer in 2014, including technology transfer. MEAs are a key component of each PEM fuel cell and the MEA-related work in this customer program is being undertaken by Ballard engineers and test technicians in conjunction with the OEM’s in-house fuel cell technical team. The program is expected to be completed later in 2016.
Ballard Power signs deal for production of fuel cell stacks in China; est. $168M over 5 years; buses and commercial vehicles
July 18, 2016
Ballard Power Systems signed definitive agreements with Guangdong Nation Synergy Hydrogen Power Technology Co. Ltd. (Synergy) for the establishment of an FCvelocity-9SSL fuel cell stack production operation in the City of Yunfu, in Guangdong Province. The fuel cell stacks will be packaged into locally-assembled fuel cell systems and integrated into electric buses and commercial vehicles in China.
Subject to closing, the transaction has a contemplated minimum value to Ballard of $168 million over 5-years and includes these key elements:
DOE awards $14M to advance hydrogen fuel technologies
July 12, 2016
The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced up to $14 million in funding for the advancement of hydrogen fuel technologies. Specifically, these selections include advanced high-temperature water splitting; advanced compression; and thermal insulation technologies.
For cost-competitive transportation, hydrogen must be comparable to conventional fuels and technologies on a per-mile basis in order to succeed in the commercial marketplace. DOE’s current target is to reduce the cost of producing and delivering hydrogen to less than $4 per gallon of gas equivalent (gge) by 2020 and $7/gge for early markets.
Hyundai and US DOE extend fuel cell vehicle loan partnership in concert with new DC-based hydrogen fueling station
July 11, 2016
Hyundai and the US Department of Energy (DOE) are extending their fuel cell vehicle confirmation program, originally from 2013 through 2015, to a second phase, from 2016 through 2017.
The program involves Hyundai providing a number of Tucson Fuel Cell CUVs (earlier post) for daily use and confirmation by the DOE using existing hydrogen infrastructure. This phase of the program will make significant use of a newly-opened hydrogen refueling station in the Washington DC region.
DOE awarding $13M to advance fuel cell performance and durability and H2 storage technologies
July 07, 2016
The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced more than $13 million in funding for the advancement of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. These projects, selected through collaborative research consortia, will leverage industry, university and laboratory expertise to accelerate advanced hydrogen storage technologies and fuel cell performance and durability.
In 2016, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy established two collaborative research consortia, each comprising a core team of DOE national laboratories, with plans to add industry and university partners: the Fuel Cell Consortium for Performance and Durability (FC-PAD) and the Hydrogen Materials—Advanced Research Consortium (HyMARC). (Earlier post.)
ISO/TS 19880:2016 – New technical document for hydrogen stations
July 05, 2016
ISO has published a new Technical Specification ISO/TS 19880-1, Gaseous hydrogen — fueling stations — Part 1: General requirements, which is a key document for the building of hydrogen fueling stations worldwide. (Earlier post.) The TS was prepared by ISO/TC 197 WG 24, led by co-conveners Jesse Schneider (BMW) and Guy Dang-Nhu (Air Liquide), along with Nick Hart (ITM Power) as secretary.
The scope of the TS covers the processes from hydrogen production and delivery to compression, storage and fueling of a hydrogen vehicle. It is essentially a safety and performance guideline for hydrogen stations, including the interface to fuel vehicles. The level of safety specified in the TS is similar to the level of safety of stations fueling with conventional fuels.
Ceres Power to demonstrate SOFC stack technology for EV range extender with Nissan; light commercial vehicle
June 28, 2016
UK-based Ceres Power Holdings, a spin-out from Imperial College, is leading a consortium that includes Nissan Motor Manufacturing (UK) Ltd and M-Solv to develop a compact, on-board solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) stack as a range extender for an electric light commercial vehicle (van). (Earlier post.)
£772,000 (US$1 million) in funding for the work comes from Innovate UK and The Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV); of that, £573,000 (US$755,000) is allocated to Ceres. The SOFC stack is based on Ceres Power’s unique SteelCell technology, which is able to work with a variety of high efficiency fuel types (including biofuels) applicable to the automotive sector.
Stanford solar tandem cell shows promise for efficient solar-driven water-splitting to produce hydrogen
June 23, 2016
Researchers at Stanford University, with colleagues in China, have developed a tandem solar cell consisting of an approximately 700-nm-thick nanoporous Mo-doped bismuth vanadate (BiVO4) (Mo:BiVO4) layer on an engineered Si nanocone substrate. The nanocone/Mo:BiVO4 assembly is in turn combined with a solar cell made of perovskite.
When placed in water, the device immediately began splitting water at a solar-to-hydrogen conversion efficiency of 6.2%—matching the theoretical maximum rate for a bismuth vanadate cell. Although the efficiency demonstrated was only 6.2%, the tandem device has room for significant improvement in the future, said Stanford Professor Yi Cui, a principal investigator at the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences and senior author of an open access paper describing the work published in Scientific Advances.
DOE issues request for information on a Hydrogen Technology Showcase and Training (HyTeST) station
The US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Fuel Cell Technologies Office has issued a request for information (RFI) (DE-FOA-0001555) to obtain feedback from stakeholders regarding the construction and benefits of a National Hydrogen Technology Showcase and Training (HyTeST) station.
The facility would serve as a tool for research and development, testing, safety and demonstration training, and outreach for community and commercial early adopters, including station developers, owners, code officials, first responders, operators, investors, and insurers.
Johnson Matthey-led consortium to develop advanced automotive fuel cells in €7M EU-funded INSPIRE; BMW Group
June 21, 2016
A coalition led by Johnson Matthey is working to develop the next-generation of automotive fuel cell technology in the three-year, €7-million (US$7.9-million) EU-funded project INSPIRE (Integration Of Novel Stack Components For Performance, Improved Durability And Lower Cost). Consortium members include fuel cell component suppliers, academic institutions and the BMW Group.
INSPIRE’s stated objective is to develop advanced components and to integrate them into an automotive stack showing BOL (beginning of life) performance of 1.5 W/cm2 at 0.6V, less than 10% power degradation after 6,000 hours, and with a technical and economic assessment showing a cost of less than €50/kW (US$57/KW) at a 50,000 annual production scale.
€100M H2ME 2 launches: 2nd pan-European deployment of H2 refueling infrastructure and fuel cell vehicles
June 14, 2016
A second pan-European deployment of hydrogen refueling infrastructure, and passenger and commercial fuel cell electric vehicles has now launched. The six-year H2ME 2 project brings together 37 partners from across Europe.
H2ME 2 will include the deployment and operation of 1,230 fuel cell vehicles, the addition of 20 extra hydrogen-refueling stations (HRS) to the European network and will test the ability of electrolyzer-HRS to help balance the electrical grid. The project has been developed under the auspices of the Hydrogen Mobility Europe (H2ME) initiative and supported by the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) with funding from the European Union Horizon 2020 program.
Nissan developing electric vehicles powered by ethanol-fueled solid oxide fuel cells; commercialization in 2020
Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. announced that it is currently researching and developing a Solid Oxide Fuel-Cell (SOFC)-powered system using bio-ethanol as the on-board hydrogen source. The new e-Bio Fuel Cell system—a world-first for automotive use—features an an SOFC stack and an on-board reformer to convert 100% ethanol or ethanol-blended water (55% water, 45% ethanol) to hydrogen. SOFCs can utilize the reaction of multiple fuels, including ethanol and natural gas, with oxygen to produce electricity with high efficiency.
The e-Bio Fuel Cell system is suited for larger vehicles and longer ranges (~600 km, 373 miles) than battery-electric vehicles, Nissan said in a media briefing. The e-Bio Fuel Cell system can be run 24x7; features a quiet drive and short refueling time; is versatile, with ample power supply to support refrigerated delivery services; and will have running costs equivalent to that of EVs when using ethanol-water blends. Nissan said it planned commercialization for the technology in 2020.
Mercedes-Benz’ GLC F-CELL fuel-cell plug-in hybrid SUV coming in 2017
June 13, 2016
The GLC F-CELL features a ~9 kWh lithium-ion battery pack combined with a new fuel cell stack developed in Vancouver, Canada together with partner Ford in the Automotive Fuel Cell Cooperation (AFCC) joint venture. The combination of fuel cell and battery system—along with a further developed intelligent operating strategy—will offer a combined range of around 500 km (311 miles) in the NEDC.
Daimler investing >€7B in next 2 years in green tech; fuel cell plug-in, BEV architecture; 48V
At its TecDay event in Stuttgart, Daimler said it will invest more than €7 billion (US$7.9 billion) in green technologies in the next two years alone. Shortly, smart will be the only automaker worldwide to offer its entire model range both powered by internal combustion engines or operating on battery power. Mercedes-Benz will put the first fuel-cell-powered vehicle with plug-in technology into series production: the GLC F-CELL. In addition, the company is developing a dedicated vehicle architecture for battery-electric motor cars.
Following the company’s recent introduction of the new OM 654 diesel family (earlier post), Daimler will introduce a new family of gasoline engines in 2017, which will again set efficiency standards and will be the first ever to be equipped with a particulate filter (earlier post). The 48-volt on-board power supply will be introduced at the same time and starter-generators will become part of the standard specification. The 48V system will make fuel savings possible that previously were the exclusive domain of the high-voltage hybrid technology.
DOE issues request for information on medium- and heavy-duty fuel cell electric truck targets
June 10, 2016
The US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) has issued a request for information (RFI) (DE-FOA-0001600) to obtain feedback and opinions from truck operators, truck and storage tank manufacturers, fuel cell manufacturers, station equipment designers, and other related stakeholders on issues related to medium- and heavy-duty (MD and HD) fuel cell electric truck targets.
The MD/HD market spans multiple weight classes (i.e. class 3-8 or 10,000-80,000+ lbs.) and vocational uses (i.e. delivery van, tractor trailer, flatbed, etc.). Today, MD/HD trucks account for 28% of petroleum use in the US transportation sector, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Plug Power and HyGear partner to provide small-scale SMR hydrogen production technology to fuel cell system customers
Fuel cell system manufacturer Plug Power Inc. and HyGear, supplier of cost-effective industrial gases, are partnering to supply HyGear’s Hy.GEN hydrogen generation technology to Plug Power fuel cell customers globally. The first deployments are scheduled to be installed in the fourth quarter of 2016 at a new site for one of Plug Power’s existing customers.
Hy.GEN is based on small-scale steam methane reforming (SMR). The small scale on-site hydrogen generation systems range from 5 Nm3/h up to 100 Nm3/h, making them suitable for use at industrial sites and hydrogen filling stations. Hy.GEN systems allow the option to use biogas for a “green” hydrogen solution.
US DRIVE releases comprehensive cradle-to-grave analysis of light-duty vehicle GHGs, cost of driving and cost of avoided GHGs
June 09, 2016
The US DRIVE Cradle-to-Grave Working Group has published the “Cradle-to-Grave Lifecycle Analysis of US Light-Duty Vehicle-Fuel Pathways: A Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Economic Assessment of Current (2015) and Future (2025–2030) Technologies” Argonne National Lab Report.
The study provides a comprehensive lifecycle analysis (LCA), or cradle-to-grave (C2G) analysis, of the cost and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of a variety of vehicle-fuel pathways, as well as the levelized cost of driving (LCD) and cost of avoided GHG emissions. The study also estimates the technology readiness levels (TRLs) of key fuel and vehicle technologies along the pathways. The study only addresses possible vehicle-fuel combination pathways—i.e., no scenario analysis.
Bochum team engineers artificial hydrogenase for hydrogen production; targeting foundation for industrial manufacturing
June 01, 2016
Researchers at Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) have engineered a hydrogen-producing enzyme in the test tube that works as efficiently as the original. The protein—a hydrogenase from green algae ( [FeFe]-hydrogenase HYDA1 from Chlamydomonas reinhardtii)—is made up of a protein scaffold and a cofactor.
The researchers have been investigating mechanisms of hydrogen biocatalysis for a number of years. In 2013, the team reported developing semi-synthetic hydrogenases by adding the protein’s biological precursor to a chemically synthesized inactive iron complex.
ULEMCo delivers first hydrogen-diesel dual-fuel refuse trucks to Fife Council in Scotland
May 23, 2016
ULEMCo, the developer of a hydrogen-diesel dual fuel conversion system for commercial vehicles, has delivered its first hydrogen dual-fuel refuse vehicles to Fife Council in Scotland. The trucks, which deliver reduced CO2 emissions as well as improving air quality for the local community, are planned for use in densely populated urban areas, where improving air quality is a major concern.
The dual-fuel engines are equipped with hydrogen injection and a separate ECU control system. A diesel pilot injection initiates combustion of the hydrogen, which is stored onboard at 350 bar. CO2 emissions under dual fuel mode are approximately 70% less than a comparable diesel vehicle, according to the company.
DOE awarding ~$4.75M to San Francisco and Strategic Analysis for hydrogen fuel cell vehicle and infrastructure projects
May 20, 2016
The US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) has selected the city of San Francisco for funding as the first Climate Action Champion to pursue hydrogen and fuel cell technologies for local transportation. (Earlier post.) In addition, new analysis projects by Strategic Analysis, Inc. focused on hydrogen fuel cell vehicle and infrastructure technologies will receive funding.
The nearly $4.75 million in funding for both efforts will go towards the development of education and outreach programs to increase the deployment of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) and hydrogen infrastructure, as well as provide detailed cost analyses for hydrogen fuel cell systems, hydrogen storage, and hydrogen production and delivery technologies.
Argonne rolls out updated version of AFLEET alternative fuels and advanced vehicles analysis tool
May 10, 2016
The US Department of Energy (DOE’s) Argonne National Laboratory is releasing an updated version of its AFLEET tool to reflect the latest advances in alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technologies and updated emissions data. Sponsored by the DOE Clean Cities program, AFLEET (Alternative Fuel Life-Cycle Environmental and Economic Transportation Tool) is a free, publicly-available tool that provides users with a roadmap for assessing which types of vehicles and fuels are right for them. The 2016 AFLEET Tool and user guide are available online. Although anyone can download and use the tool, AFLEET was designed for managers that purchase and maintain a fleet of vehicles.
The latest version includes, for the first time: gaseous hydrogen fuel cell vehicles; state-based (rather than national-based) fuel pricing, private station fuel pricing and fueling infrastructure costs. Updates to existing inputs include new light-duty vehicle costs; vehicle air pollutant emission factors derived from the Environmental Protection Agency’s emissions modeling system, MOVES 2014a; and petroleum use and greenhouse gas and relative air pollutant emissions from the 2015 GREET model, Argonne’s leading fuel life-cycle analysis model that is now in its twentieth year.
Columbia team develops simple, low-cost, scaleable membraneless electrolyzer fabricated with 3D printing for H2 production
May 09, 2016
Researchers at Columbia University are investigating the use of membraneless electrochemical flow cells for hydrogen production from water electrolysis that are based on angled mesh flow-through electrodes.
The devices can be fabricated with as few as three parts (anode, cathode, and cell body), reflecting their simplicity and potential for low-cost manufacture.The researchers used 3D printing to fabricate prototype electrolyzers that they demonstrated to be electrolyte agnostic, modular, and capable of operating with minimal product crossover. An open-access paper describing their work is published in the Journal of the Electrochemical Society.
IHS: fuel cell vehicle production of > 70,000 annually by 2027; <0.1% of all vehicles produced; Europe to lead by 2021
May 08, 2016
A new report on fuel cell vehicles from IHS Automotive forecasts that global production of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) will reach more than 70,000 vehicles annually by 2027, as more automotive OEMs bring FCEVs to market. However,this will only represent less than 0.1% of all vehicles produced, according to IHS Automotive forecasts.
IHS expects that during the next 11 years, the number of available FCEV models will jump to 17 from the current three (Toyota Mirai, Hyundai ix35/Tucson and the Honda Clarity), as more OEMs add FCEVs to their product portfolios. In the near-term, most FCEV production is expected to be in Japan and Korea, but by 2021, European FCEV production will take the lead globally. This indicates a shift in regional momentum for FCEVs as OEMs look to meet emissions targets.
Loop Energy collaborates with CRRC to develop fuel cell electric drive systems for heavy-duty trucks
May 06, 2016
Canada-based Loop Energy (earlier post) has entered a collaboration agreement with Hunan CRRC Times Electric Vehicle Co., Ltd. (a subsidiary of CRRC Corporation Ltd.) to develop zero-emission power systems for heavy-duty transportation applications.
The power system to be developed for the initial project will combine Loop’s fuel cell technologies with CRRC’s leading electric drive train system to provide a better performing solution for heavy-duty trucks in comparison to traditional diesel engines.
Hydrogenious Technologies partners with United Hydrogen Group (UHG) to bring novel LOHC H2 storage system to US market
May 04, 2016
One of Anglo American Platinum’s investments, Hydrogenious Technologies, a German hydrogen storage startup, has launched its first commercial hydrogen storage and logistics system using its innovative Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carrier (LOHC) technology.
Hydrogenious Technologies is a spin-off from the University of Erlangen- Nuremberg (Germany), which also holds a stake in the company, and the Bavarian Hydrogen Center. Instead of storing hydrogen either under high pressure of up to 700 bar or in liquid form at –253 °C, Hydrogenious’ technology catalytically binds and releases the hydrogen molecules to liquid organic hydrogen carriers (LOHCs). (Earlier post.)
Cactus-inspired membranes with nanocrack coatings boost fuel cell performance significantly
April 29, 2016
Regulating water content in polymeric membranes is important in a number of applications—such as in the proton-exchange fuel-cell membranes used in automotive fuel cell stacks. Researchers from CSIRO in Australia and Hanyang University in Korea have now developed a new type of hydrocarbon polymer membrane that has the potential to deliver a significant boost in fuel cell performance.
Water content in the membranes is regulated through nanometer-scale cracks (nanocracks) in a hydrophobic surface coating. These cracks work as nanoscale valves to retard water desorption and to maintain ion conductivity in the membrane on dehumidification. In a paper published in the journal Nature, the researchers reported that hydrocarbon fuel-cell membranes with these surface nanocrack coatings operated at intermediate temperatures show improved electrochemical performance.
SAE technical experts: fuel cell technology has advanced significantly, FC vehicle production has begun, further cost reductions & infrastructure development required
April 27, 2016
Wrapping up the track on the commercialization of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and hydrogen infrastructure held at the 2016 SAE World Congress (earlier post), a panel of technical experts agreed that while significant progress has been made with the technology, and while the first generation of consumer-available fuel cell vehicles is now being sold in parts of the US, there are still challenges to overcome with respect to the cost of the technology and the build-out of a supporting hydrogen refueling infrastructure.
The panel, moderated by Jesse Schneider, BMW, included Takashi Moriya, Senior Chief Engineer at Honda R&D; Dr. Will James, Manager, Safety, Codes, and Standards at the US Department of Energy (DOE); and Dr. Ralph Clague, Head of Motive Systems and Architecture, Intelligent Energy.
Tsinghua team evaluates impact of types and arrangements of electric traction motors in fuel cell hybrid buses
April 20, 2016
Researchers at Tsinghua University have compared the performance of two different powertrains for fuel cell hybrid buses. Both buses use 50 kW PEM fuel cell stacks (from different manufacturers) as the primary power source, with LiMn2O4 battery packs as secondary power sources. A significant difference between the two powertrains lies in the types and arrangements of the electrical motor.
One powertrain employs a single induction motor (IM) to drive the vehicle via a reduction gearbox and differential (Powertrain A), while the other powertrain adopts two permanent magnetic synchronous motors (PMSMs) for near-wheel propulsion (Powertrain B). A further difference between the proposed powertrains is the supply path for the fuel cell accessories. A paper on their study is published in Journal of Power Sources.
New Flyer introduces first 60-foot hydrogen fuel cell bus in North America
New Flyer of America, a subsidiary of New Flyer Industries Inc., the leading manufacturer of heavy-duty transit buses and motor coaches in the United States and Canada, conducted the inaugural road demonstration of the Xcelsior XHE60 heavy-duty articulated fuel cell transit bus. Representatives from two major transit Authorities—Alameda County Transit (AC Transit) of California, and Metro Transit of Minneapolis, Minnesota—participated in the vehicle’s debut and demonstration.
Based on its Buy America compliant and proven Xcelsior X60 heavy-duty transit bus platform, New Flyer partnered with Ballard Power Systems Inc. and Siemens to develop the propulsion system. The bus will be operated in revenue service by AC Transit for 22 months following the completion of a comprehensive evaluation at the FTA’s Altoona test facility.
FTA selects 7 projects to receive $22.5M in grants for battery-electric and fuel cell buses, infrastructure
The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced the latest project selections for the Low and No-Emission Vehicle Deployment Program, known as Low-No. Seven transit providers in five states will receive a share of $22.5 million toward transit buses and related facilities that utilize battery-electric, fuel cell, and other innovative technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve operating efficiency.
FTA awarded the FY 2015 funds after a competitive review process that prioritized transit agencies and bus manufacturers with strong records in building, deploying, and operating clean buses and infrastructure. The projects selected in this round of Low-No funding are:
ARB Chair Mary Nichols, CA officials leading hydrogen fuel cell vehicle rally from LA to Sacramento
California Air Resources Board (ARB) Chair Mary Nichols today is leading a rally of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles with Energy Commissioner Janea Scott and Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) Deputy Director Tyson Eckerle on a 400-mile journey from Los Angeles to ARB headquarters in Sacramento in celebration of Earth Day.
The rally is intended to highlight that these hydrogen-fueled electric vehicles are now available for sale or lease, and there is a rapidly growing statewide network of hydrogen filling stations to support them.
Toyota details design of fuel cell system in Mirai; work on electrode catalysts
April 19, 2016
While other major automakers have either introduced (Hyundai, Honda) or are in serious development of new hydrogen fuel cell vehicles for the market, Toyota continues to take the point in not just promoting, but also supporting the broader technical (and infrastructure) development required for a large-scale realization of hydrogen-based electromobility.
At the 2015 CES, Toyota announced royalty-free use of approximately 5,680 fuel-cell-related patents held globally, including critical technologies developed for the Mirai fuel cell vehicle. (Earlier post.) At the SAE 2015 World Congress, Toyota presented a set of four technical papers detailing some of the technology innovations used in Mirai fuel cell stack. (Earlier post.) And again at this year’s 2016 SAE World Congress, Toyota presented three more papers: one detailing the development of Mirai’s Toyota Fuel Cell System (TCFS) and two dealing with the critical issues of the fuel cell catalysts.
Japan updates hydrogen fuel cell targets; 320 stations by 2025, 800,000 vehicles by 2030
April 15, 2016
Japan’s Council for a Strategy for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells, which includes experts from industry, academia, and government, recently issued a revised version of the Strategic Roadmap for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells.
Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) established the Council in December 2013; the Strategic Road Map was first published in June 2014. With the increased dissemination of fuel cells for households, the launch of fuel cell vehicles onto the market, and steady progress in the construction of hydrogen stations, the Council has revised the plan, setting new targets. For vehicles, these targets are:
California Energy Commission releases $17.3M funding opportunity for H2 stations
April 08, 2016
The California Energy Commission has released a $17.3-million solicitation (GFO-15-605) for publicly accessible hydrogen refueling stations that serve California’s light duty fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs).
The Energy Commission will make available two categories of Capital Expense (Cap-X) funding. Operation and Maintenance (O&M) funding is also available for stations whose capital expenses are funded under this solicitation. This solicitation places a preference on hydrogen refueling stations that fill hydrogen refueling station coverage gaps and hydrogen refueling capacity gaps in California.
Hyundai Motor powers world’s first hydrogen fuel cell vehicle car-sharing service
April 07, 2016
Zero-emission car sharing service BeeZero, run by a newly founded subsidiary of The Linde Group, will feature 50 Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell electric vehicles for public use. BeeZero, which will launch in Munich this summer, will be the first car sharing service using hydrogen fuel cell cars.
The BeeZero car sharing service will be run on a zone-based model. The fleet of fifty ix35 Fuel Cell cars will be available in Munich’s city centre and also in the areas of Schwabing, Haidhausen, Au and Glockenbachviertel. As with conventional car sharing services, the cars can be easily booked online or via a smartphone app.
SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall launch long-term initiative for CO2-free ironmaking for steel production
April 04, 2016
Swedish-Finnish steel company SSAB, mining company LKAB and power company Vattenfall have launched an initiative to develop a steel production process that emits water rather than carbon dioxide.
The aim of the HYBRIT (Hydrogen Breakthrough Ironmaking Technology) project is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from ironmaking to zero by eliminating the need to use fossil fuel for iron ore reduction. The idea is to replace the blast furnaces with an alternative process, using hydrogen produced from “clean” electricity.
Uno-X Hydrogen to build 1st hydrogen refueling station w/ hydrogen produced by surplus renewable energy from neighboring building
Uno-X Hydrogen AS, a NEL ASA (NEL) joint venture, will build a hydrogen refueling station (HRS) with on-site hydrogen production co-located with Powerhouse Kjørbo, an energy-positive office building in Sandvika, Norway.
Powerhouse Kjørbo, which is owned by Entra ASA, uses solar panels that can supply upward of 200,000 kWh each year, twice the amount of the building’s annual energy consumption. Excess electricity from solar will be used to produce the hydrogen on-site.
JRC proposing new harmonized test protocols for PEM fuel cells in hydrogen vehicles
March 29, 2016
The European Commission’s Joint Research Center (JRC) is proposing a test methodology for polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells, including a set of representative operating conditions. The resulting harmonized test protocols allow the evaluation of the performance and durability of PEM fuel cells by focusing on the membrane-electrode assemblies (MEA), which constitute the heart of a fuel cell.
A lack of standards for testing PEM fuel cells has hampered objective comparative assessment of their performance and durability under operating conditions and hence of their technological progress, JRC said.
IIT team explores combustion, performance and emissions characteristics of HCNG blends in spark ignition engine
March 28, 2016
A new study by a team from the Engine Research Laboratory at the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur explores the combustion, performance and emission characteristics of a prototype spark ignition engine operating with different blend ratios of HCNG (hydrogen and compressed natural gas blends). Their paper is published in the journal Fuel.
Use of lower carbon natural gas and carbon-free hydrogen have potential to reduce harmful emissions of criteria pollutants and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and and could displace a portion of conventional liquid fossil fuels, the IIT noted. However, both fuels pose different challenges for use in internal combustion (IC) engines.
California ARB posts discussion document on $500M FY 2016-17 spend for low carbon transportation and fuels; $230M to fund CVRP
The California Air Resources Board (ARB) staff has posted a discussion document prior to a 4 April 2016 public workshop on the development of the FY 2016-17 Funding Plan for Low Carbon Transportation and Fuels Investments and AQIP.
The Governor’s proposed 2016-17 budget would appropriate to ARB $500 million in Cap-and-Trade auction proceeds for Low Carbon Transportation and Fuels investments—including $40 million for very low carbon fuel production incentives—and $28.6 million for Air Quality Improvement Program (AQIP) projects.
Japanese public-private partnership to test end-to-end H2 supply chain using wind power to begin this fall; 2nd-life hybrid batteries for ESS
March 14, 2016
A Japanese partnership comprising the Kanagawa Prefectural Government; the municipal governments of the cities of Yokohama and Kawasaki; Toyota; Toshiba; and Iwatani announced the forthcoming start of a four-year project to implement and evaluate an end-to-end low-carbon hydrogen supply chain which will use hydrogen produced from renewable energy to power forklifts. (Earlier post.) The project will be carried out at facilities along Tokyo Bay in Yokohama and Kawasaki, with support from Japan’s Ministry of the Environment.
Electricity generated at the Yokohama City Wind Power Plant (Hama Wing) will power the electrolytic production of hydrogen, which will then be compressed, stored, and then transported in a hydrogen fueling truck to four sites: a factory, a vegetable and fruit market, and two warehouses. At these locations, the hydrogen will be used in fuel cells to power forklifts operating in diverse conditions.
Kawasaki Heavy and Shell to partner on technologies for transporting liquefied hydrogen by sea
The Nikkei reports that Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Royal Dutch Shell will partner to develop technologies for transporting large volumes of liquefied hydrogen by sea.
Kawasaki has already been collaborating with Iwatani and Electric Power Development in hydrogen mass production and transportation. Kawasaki is also currently developing a small test vessel for the marine transportation of liquefied hydrogen. (Earlier post.) The vessel will have a cargo capacity of 2,500 m3, equivalent to that of coastal trading LNG vessels.
Berkeley Lab team develops new high-performance solid-state H2 storage material: graphene oxide (GO)/Mg nanocrystal hybrid
March 12, 2016
Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have developed a new, environmentally stable solid-state hydrogen storage material constructed of Mg nanocrystals encapsulated by atomically thin and gas-selective reduced graphene oxide (rGO) sheets.
This material, protected from oxygen and moisture by the rGO layers, exhibits dense hydrogen storage (6.5 wt% and 0.105 kg H2 per liter in the total composite). As rGO is atomically thin, this approach minimizes inactive mass in the composite, while also providing a kinetic enhancement to hydrogen sorption performance.
Honda begins sales of Clarity Fuel Cell in Japan; targeting 200 units first year
March 11, 2016
On 10 March, Honda Motor Co. began sales in Japan of its all-new fuel cell vehicle (FCV), the Clarity Fuel Cell. (Earlier post.) Honda is targeting sales of approximately 200 units in the first year, with a focus on lease sales mainly to local government bodies or businesses Honda has already been working with over the years for the development and popularization of FCVs.
During this period, Honda will collect information about the in-market use of the Clarity Fuel Cell as well as its external power output device and gather opinions and requests from customers and other relevant organizations, and then later begin sales to individual customers.
German team doubles activity of water electrolysis catalysts for H2 production with monolayer of copper on platinum
March 10, 2016
A team from the Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Technische Universität München and Universiteit Leiden has doubled the catalytic activity of electrodes for water electrolysis by applying a monolayer of copper the platinum electrodes. The resulting electrodes are the most active electrocatalysts ever reported for the HER (hydrogen evolution reaction) in acidic media under comparable conditions, to the best of their knowledge, wrote the authors in an open-access paper in the journal Nature Communications.
Only about 4% of global hydrogen production is via water electrolysis, according to a 2012 analysis (Bičáková and Straka). The main impediments to a wider commercialization are the high energy losses in electrolyzers due to the insufficient activity of state-of-the-art electrodes.
Argonne LCA study finds many alternative fuels consume more water than petroleum and natural gas fuels
March 09, 2016
Researchers at Argonne National Laboratory have analyzed the water consumption for transportation fuels in the United States using an extended lifecycle system boundary that includes the water embedded in intermediate processing steps.
In a paper published in the RSC journal Energy & Environmental Science, they compared the water consumed per unit energy and per km traveled in light-duty vehicles. They found that many alternative fuels consume larger quantities of water on a per km basis than traditional petroleum and natural gas pathways. The authors concluded that it will be important to consider the implications of transportation and energy policy changes on water resources in the future.
Ceres Power scales up “Steel Cell” SOFC fuel cell production capability with Innovate UK funding
March 06, 2016
UK-based Ceres Power Holdings, a spin-out from Imperial College, has completed a manufacturing scale-up project that enables high volume production capability for its Steel Cell solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) fuel cell technology, a key step towards mass market commercialization of its unique fuel cell technology in response to growing market opportunities. The SOFC uses natural gas as a fuel to produce electricity.
Ceres Power recently signed a new Joint Development Agreement with Honda R&D jointly to develop stacks using Ceres Power’s metal-supported Steel Cell technology for a range of potential power equipment applications. (Earlier post.)