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[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]

Successful first test run of Alstom Coradia iLint fuel cell train; signed letters of intent for 60 trains

March 15, 2017

Alstom successfully performed the first test run at 80 km/h (50 mph) of the fuel cell passenger train Coradia iLint (earlier post) on its own test track in Salzgitter, Lower Saxony (Germany). An extensive test campaign will be conducted in Germany and Czech Republic in the coming months before the Coradia iLint performs its first passenger test runs on the Buxtehude–Bremervörde–Bremerhaven–Cuxhaven (Germany) route beginning of 2018.

The four-week test runs currently underway in Salzgitter aim at confirming the stability of the energy supply system based on coordinated interaction between the drive, the fuel cell and the battery of the vehicle. The braking power is also being tested to check the interface between the pneumatic and the electric brake.

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Cambridge team demonstrates light-driven photoreforming of unprocessed biomass to H2 at room temperature

March 14, 2017

A team of scientists at the University of Cambridge has reported the light-driven photoreforming of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin to H2 using semiconducting cadmium sulfide quantum dots in alkaline aqueous solution.

The system operates under visible light, is stable beyond six days and is even able to reform unprocessed lignocellulose, such as wood and paper, under solar irradiation at room temperature, presenting an inexpensive route to drive aqueous proton reduction to H2 through waste biomass oxidation. A paper on their work is published in the journal Nature Energy.

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Hyundai Motor reveals next generation fuel cell concept at Geneva Motor Show; new SUV Fuel Cell model set for launch in 2018

March 07, 2017

Reaffirming its commitment to fuel cell vehicle development, Hyundai Motor unveiled its futuristic FE Fuel Cell Concept at the Geneva Motor Show 2017. The FE Fuel Cell Concept represents the next step for Hyundai Motor toward realizing its ultimate ambition of creating a zero-emission Hydrogen Energy Society.

The FE Fuel Cell Concept continues Hyundai Motor’s commitment to fuel cell vehicle development and is part of the company’s eco-vehicle program that will see 14 or more new environmentally-focused models introduced by 2020. Spurred on by greater global demand for fuel-efficient, eco-friendly vehicles, the program continues the example of innovation set by IONIQ, the first car to offer a choice of three electrified powertrains in a single body type.

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Symbio targets European taxi market with fuel cell range extender in Nissan e-NV200; 500 km range

March 02, 2017

Symbio has integrated a 15 kW (net) fuel cell range extender in a Nissan e-NV200 electric van, with plans to introduce the vehicle to the European taxi market. The new plug-in hybrid hydrogen fuel cell vehicle will deliver at least 500 km of range. Symbio unveiled the van at the FC Expo 2017 in Tokyo.

The customized e-NV200 offers taxi drivers a similar total cost of ownership to a hybrid taxi, but with the range of an internal combustion engine. Thus, this vehicle could be used for intensive urban taxi operations or for online passenger transportation network services. It can be recharged from a low-cost power supply, and refueled with hydrogen in three minutes (3.8 kg hydrogen at 700 bar).

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Sandia, Lawrence Livermore team improves solid-state H2 storage using nano-confinement; new paradigm for hydrogen storage

February 25, 2017

Researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, Mahidol University in Thailand and the National Institute of Standards and Technology have leveraged nano-confinement to develop an efficient solid-state hydrogen storage system that could be a boon for hydrogen-powered vehicles.

The researchers examined the high-capacity lithium nitride (Li3N) hydrogen storage system under nanoconfinement. Using a combination of theoretical and experimental techniques, they showed that the pathways for the uptake and release of hydrogen were fundamentally changed by the presence of nano-interfaces, leading to significantly faster performance and reversibility. The research appears on the cover of the 23 Feb. edition of the journal Advanced Materials Interfaces.

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Toyota delivers fuel cell bus to Tokyo Metropolitan Government; more than 100 planned by 2020 Olympics

February 24, 2017

Toyota Motor Corporation delivered the first fuel cell bus (FC bus) sold under the Toyota brand to the Bureau of Transportation of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. This FC bus will be put into operation as a Toei route bus in March along with a second bus that is scheduled for delivery in the same month.

Toyota plans to introduce more than 100 FC buses mainly within the Tokyo area, ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The increased use of FC buses in urban areas is expected to help raise the level of understanding by the general public regarding the use of FC buses as a form of public transportation.

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California Energy Commission selects 16 hydrogen station projects for up to $33.4M in funding

February 21, 2017

The California Energy Commission (CEC) has selected 15 new main hydrogen retail station projects for up to $31.7 million in combined funding, as well as one connector station project for up to $1.5 million in fund. Among the program requirements are that each station dispense a minimum of at least 33% renewable hydrogen (per kilogram).

Eight of the main stations projects identified in the Notice of Proposed Awards (NOPA) are to be completed by First Element Fuel; the remaining seven are to be completed by a partnership of Shell and Toyota Motor.

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Georgia Tech team furthers four-stroke-cycle active-membrane piston reactor for enhanced SMR for H2 production

February 17, 2017

Steam methane reforming is currently the primary pathway for hydrogen production worldwide. However, due to its high operating temperature and use of sequential units for the reaction stages, industrial SMR does not scale down well for distributed, point-of-use applications such as fuel cell vehicle refueling stations.

Seeking to develop an SMR system suited for such distributed applications, a team from Georgia Tech in 2014 proposed the sorption-enhanced CO2/H2 Active Membrane Piston reactor (CHAMP-SORB)—a variable-volume batch reactor for the production of hydrogen from catalytic steam reforming of methane that operates in a cycle similar to that of an internal combustion engine. Now, in a paper published in the ACS journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, the team has developed a comprehensive analysis of the system, focused on understanding the heat/mass transfer and reaction/separation interactions to develop guidelines for scale-up.

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Ballard signs $25M deal with Broad-Ocean for manufacture & sales of 30 and 85 kW fuel cell systems in China

February 16, 2017

Ballard Power Systems has signed a definitive agreement relating to technology transfer, licensing and supply arrangements with strategic partner Zhongshan Broad-Ocean Motor Co., Ltd. (Broad-Ocean) for the assembly and sale of FCveloCity 30 kW and 85 kW fuel cell systems in China. Under the deal, Broad-Ocean will manufacture fuel cell modules in three strategic regions in China, including Shanghai. The deal has an estimated value of approximately $25 million in revenue to Ballard over the initial 5-year term, including $12 million in Technology Solutions revenue.

In August 2016, Broad-Ocean became Ballard’s largest shareholder following an investment of $28.3 million in Ballard common shares, representing approximately 9.9% of Ballard’s outstanding common shares following the transaction.

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Ballard in consortium with New Flyer to deploy 20 fuel cell electric buses in CA

February 14, 2017

Ballard Power Systems announced its membership in the “Fuel Cell Electric Bus Commercialization Consortium” (FCEBCC), a large-scale project for which funding has now been committed to support deployment of 20 zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell electric buses at two California transit agencies. Ten (10) buses are to be deployed with Alameda Contra-Costa Transit District (AC Transit) and 10 buses are to be deployed with the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA).

The FCEBCC project is funded and sponsored by: the California Air Resources Board (CARB) through the California Climate Investments program; the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD); and the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD). The Center for Transportation and Environment (CTE), a non-profit member-based organization, is providing project management and oversight.

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H2ME has 100 fuel cell vehicles on the road in Germany, France and UK

February 08, 2017

Hydrogen Mobility Europe (H2ME), a multi-country, multi-partner project to demonstrate that hydrogen can support Europe’s future transport demands, announced that it has deployed its first 100 fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) in Germany, France and the UK.

Sixty Symbio Renault Kangoo ZE-H2 range-extended fuel cell vans have been deployed in the UK and France, supporting the development of a network of hydrogen refuelling stations in those markets. Powered by a compact 5 kW fuel cell module, coupled with a hydrogen storage unit and medium-size automotive battery pack, Symbio’s range-extender kit doubles the range of Renault’s electric-only Kangoo ZE model to 320 km.

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voestalpine, Siemens & VERBUND building one of the world’s largest electrolysis plants for H2 production; EU-funded H2FUTURE

The European Commission has awarded the H2FUTURE project consortium—comprising voestalpine, Siemens, VERBUND and Austrian Power Grid (APG) as well as the research-partners K1-MET and ECN—the contract for the construction of one of the world’s largest PEM electrolysis plants for producing green hydrogen.

The project partners will work and research cooperatively on implementing an innovative hydrogen demonstration plant at the voestalpine site in Linz. The green hydrogen generated there will be fed directly into the internal gas network, allowing the testing of the use of hydrogen in various process stages of steel production.

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PNNL team develops fastest synthetic catalyst for H2 production; controlling structural dynamics for 1,000x performance boost

February 06, 2017

Using a natural catalyst from bacteria for inspiration, researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have now developed the fastest synthetic catalyst for hydrogen production—producing 45 million molecules per second—by controlling the structural dynamics of the molecular catalyst. Instead of a costly metal such as platinum, this catalyst uses inexpensive, abundant nickel at its core.

Although the catalyst requires more energy to run than a conventional platinum catalyst, the insight garnered from this result might eventually help make hydrogen fuel in an environmentally friendly, affordable way, the researchers report in the chemistry journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition.

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Symbio uses Borit metal bipolar plates in its commercial fuel cell range extender

February 03, 2017

Belgium-based Borit is the supplier-of-choice for metal bipolar plates in the successful range extender fuel cell systems of the French market leader Symbio. (Earlier post.) The production of metal bipolar plates—a key component in fuel cells—is challenging, requiring subtle structures, tight tolerances, precise and gas tight laser welding of very thin metal sheets, and strict quality control in a cost-efficient way at advantageous prices.

The performance and power density of fuel cells—particularly important in vehicles—strongly depends on the capabilities of the bipolar plate manufacturer. Borit’s production is based on its proprietary forming technology Hydrogate, which enables fast development from prototyping to volume production.

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GM and Honda to establish industry-first $85M joint fuel cell system manufacturing operation in Michigan

January 30, 2017

General Motors and Honda are establishing the auto industry’s first manufacturing joint venture—Fuel Cell System Manufacturing, LLC, FCSM)—to mass-produce an advanced hydrogen fuel cell system that will be used in future products from each company. Over the past three years, GM and Honda have been collaborating on next-generation fuel cell and hydrogen storage systems, aiming at commercialization in the 2020 time frame. (Earlier post.)

The co-developed new generation stack builds on the compact size and high-performance of Honda’s current generation stack in the Clarity (earlier post) by achieving significant cost reductions. FCSM will operate within GM’s existing battery pack manufacturing facility site in Brownstown, Michigan, south of Detroit. Mass production of fuel cell systems is expected to begin around 2020 and create nearly 100 new jobs. The companies are making equal investments totaling $85 million in the joint venture.

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Joint CEC, CARB annual report details progress in build-out of hydrogen refueling infrastructure

January 25, 2017

The California Energy Commission and California Air Resources Board released the annual Joint Agency Staff Report on Assembly Bill 8: 2016 Assessment of Time and Cost Needed to Attain 100 Hydrogen Refueling Stations in California. The 2016 Joint Report updates the time and cost assessments to design, permit, construct, and make hydrogen refueling stations operational and open retail for the stations funded under the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP).

As of 5 December 2016, California has 25 open retail stations selling hydrogen for use as a transportation fuel with 23 more open retail stations under development. Combined with two additional California Air Resources Board-funded stations that are open non-retail (in Harbor City and at California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA)), California’s hydrogen refueling station network comprises 50 stations. When the 2015 Joint Report was published, six stations were open retail.

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Hydrogenious Technologie and MAN Diesel & Turbo partner to develop LOHC hydrogenation reactors

Hydrogenious Technologies GmbH and MAN Diesel & Turbo SE—which, in addition to being a leading provider of large-bore diesels and turbomachinery for marine and stationary applications, is also a specialist for salt-bed reactors for chemical industry—recently closed an agreement for joint development of industrial-scale Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carrier (LOHC) hydrogenation reactors.

LOHC technology enables the safe and efficient storage of hydrogen through molecular binding; Hydrogenious thus builds systems to bind hydrogen chemically to a carrier liquid—specifically, dibenzyltoluene. This enables efficient transport and storage of large amounts of hydrogen at ambient conditions. Following the commissioning of first container-based pilot systems by Hydrogenious Technologies, this joint development now aims at a stepwise scaling of hydrogenation systems to the multi-ton per day scale of today’s hydrogen sources.

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KPMG Survey: execs say connected car generates 10x revenue than a conventional vehicle; market share based on units “outdated”; BEVs #1 trend

January 24, 2017

Advancements such as connectivity, big data, autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence are driving new economic models for automakers, and most see tremendous revenue potential and consumer value in leveraging driver and vehicle data to offer mobility services, according to the 2017 KPMG Global Automotive Executive Study.

The KPMG research, which polled nearly 1,000 executives with the world’s leading automotive companies, found that 76% say one connected car generates more revenue streams than 10 conventional cars. In fact, expectations for data-driven revenue are so great that 71% say measuring OEM market share based on units sold is outdated.

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California ARB releases proposed new plan to cut 2030 GHG by 40% v. 1990; more stringent LCFS, more ZEVs

January 21, 2017

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) released the proposed scoping plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2030—the most ambitious target in North America. (Earlier post.) The plan builds on the state’s efforts to reduce emissions and outlines the most effective ways to reach the 2030 goal, including continuing California’s Cap-and-Trade Program.

Achieving the 2030 target under the proposed plan will continue to build on investments in clean energy and set the California economy on a trajectory to achieving an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

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CARB releases Midterm Review of ZEV regulation, LEV III GHG and PM standards; calls for post-2025 standards

January 19, 2017

When the California Air Resources Board (ARB) adopted the Advanced Clean Cars (ACC) program in 2012 (earlier post), the agency committed to conduct a comprehensive midterm review of three elements of the program: the zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) regulation; the 1 mg/mi particulate matter (PM) standard; and the light-duty vehicle greenhouse gas standards for 2022 and later model years. ARB has now released the Midterm Review of Advanced Clean Cars Program—an extensive evaluation of the California passenger vehicle market and technology.

The Review finds that the greenhouse gas (GHG) emission standards currently in place for model years 2022-2025 are readily feasible at or below the costs estimated back in 2012. The report also finds that ZEV technology has seen significant development that, in many cases, is beyond what was envisioned just four years ago. The report indicates that existing programs in California will add at least 1 million zero-emission vehicles on its roads and highways by 2025.

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13 global companies launch Hydrogen Council in Davos; promoting hydrogen to help meet climate goals

January 17, 2017

Thirteen leading energy, transport and industry companies have launched a global initiative in Davos to voice a united vision and long-term ambition for hydrogen to foster the energy transition.

Meeting in Davos for the first time on Tuesday, the Hydrogen Council currently comprises 13 CEOs and Chairpersons from various industries and energy companies committed to help achieve the ambitious goal of reaching the 2 ˚C target as agreed in the 2015 Paris Agreement. The international companies currently involved are: Air Liquide, Alstom, Anglo American, BMW GROUP, Daimler, ENGIE, Honda, Hyundai, Kawasaki, Royal Dutch Shell, The Linde Group, Total and Toyota. The Council is led by two Co-Chairs from different geographies and sectors, currently represented by Air Liquide and Toyota. The members of the Hydrogen Council collectively represent total revenues of €1.07 trillion and 1.72 million employees around the world.

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Toyota to collaborate in research for the creation of H2-based society in the United Arab Emirates

Toyota Motor Corporation has agreed to collaborate with Masdar, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), Air Liquide, and Toyota distributor Al-Futtaim Motors in a joint research program to explore the potential of hydrogen energy use in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the creation of a sustainable, low-carbon society. As part of the program, Toyota will begin driving and refueling demonstration tests of the Mirai fuel cell vehicle (FCV) in the UAE from May 2017.

The agreement was announced at the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW), which was held at the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi. The program partners will jointly research on key issues involving the establishment of a hydrogen-based society, including hydrogen production, logistics, scalability, and business feasibility. The research is expected to take place in part at Masdar Institute, an Abu Dhabi-based independent graduate research university, which has been part of the discussions on the scope of hydrogen research.

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Australia and Japan developing safety standards for marine transport of liquid hydrogen; KHI building carrier

January 16, 2017

Australia and Japan recently signed a memorandum at the headquarters of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) which will allow liquid hydrogen (LH2) to be shipped in bulk for the first time. Ship containment systems are being developed in Japan that will be capable of safely transporting liquid hydrogen in bulk from Australia to Japan as part of a pilot project scheduled to commence in 2020.

Bulk gas cargoes are carried under the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Liquefied Gases in Bulk (IGC Code) which is a mandatory code under the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention. The IGC code does not currently allow for the transportation of liquid hydrogen.

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New Flyer zero-emission bus deliveries increased by 48% to 213 EUs in 2016

January 12, 2017

Deliveries of New Flyer of America zero-emission buses (ZEBs) in 2016 reached their highest level in company history, delivering 213 equivalent units (EUs) in 2016. (One equivalent unit represents one 30-foot, 35-foot or 40-foot heavy-duty transit bus or one motor coach. One articulated transit bus represents two equivalent units.) This represented an increase of 48% from 144 ZEB EU’s delivered in 2015, and is represents 8.3% of New Flyer’s total heavy-duty transit bus production in 2016.

New Flyer manufactures all three current types of ZEBs, including: battery-electric, trolley-electric, and hydrogen fuel cell electric buses. This design and manufacturing capability allows transit authorities the ability to optimize charging method, infrastructure and range capability for their specific needs.

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NREL shows graded catalytic-protective layer boosts longevity of high-efficiency photocathodes for renewable hydrogen

January 09, 2017

Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have developed a method which boosts the longevity of high-efficiency photocathodes in photoelectrochemical water-splitting devices. Their works demonstrates the potential of utilizing a hybridized, heterogeneous surface layer as a cost-effective catalytic and protective interface for solar hydrogen production.

In a paper published in the journal Nature Energy, they show that annealing a bilayer of amorphous titanium dioxide (TiOx) and molybdenum sulfide (MoSx) deposited onto GaInP2 results in a photocathode with high catalytic activity and stability for the hydrogen evolution reaction. The study showed that the annealing results in a graded MoSx/MoOx/TiO2 layer that retains much of the high catalytic activity of amorphous MoSx but with stability similar to crystalline MoS2.

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Ballard-powered fuel cell electric buses exceed 10M km of revenue service

January 04, 2017

Ballard Power Systems fuel cells have powered buses for more than 10 million cumulative kilometers (6.2 million miles) of revenue service. This fuel cell industry milestone has been achieved across the company’s seven generations of its FCveloCity fuel cell engine, which have been deployed in buses in 15 countries on 5 continents during the past 10 years.

Over this period Ballard has worked with 13 bus manufacturers to develop a variety of fuel cell bus configurations that have been deployed in a wide range of climatic conditions and operated under a host of demanding duty cycles.

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HZB, 3M team explores water management in PFIA membranes for fuel cells; better performance at higher temps and low humidity

January 02, 2017

A core component of proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells is the membrane, which allows protons to diffuse selectively towards the cathode while blocking the oxygen and hydrogen gas. Nafion (a sulfonated tetrafluoroethylene based fluoropolymer-copolymer)—the most commonly used PEM membrane—only performs well at high humidity conditions and temperatures below 90 °C, thus limiting its efficiency and operational area and increasing the fuel cell cost.

3M Company’s Fuel Cell Components Group recently developed a different low-cost proton exchange membrane material: perfluoroimide acid (PFIA). PFIA is already widely applied, but much less understood than Nafion. Whereas PFIA has the same mechanically stable hydrophobic backbone, its hydrophilic side chains contain one more acidic site per each chain than in Nafion. These additional acidic sites on each hydrophilic side chain provide additional protons for the proton transport and allow for the formation of larger water channels. The water management in the PFIA membrane is of interest, since it is crucial for the performance of the fuel cell: in order to function it needs to be humid but never wet.

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London to phase out diesel buses; all new single deckers for central London to be zero emission

December 13, 2016

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan recently committed to phasing out purchasing new pure diesel buses from the capital. No more pure diesel double-deck buses will be added to the capital’s fleet from 2018 and all new single-decks for central London will be zero-emission. The Mayor made the announcement along with unveiling the first double-decker hydrogen bus, manufactured by the Wrights Group. (Earlier post.)

London has committed to procuring roughly 300 zero emission buses by 2020, with 51 battery electric buses recently going into service on the 507/521 route, taking the number of completely electric bus routes to three, with 79 zero emission buses in total in the fleet.

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ITM Power to launch 100 MW electrolyzer plant designs at Hannover Messe 2017

ITM Power will showcase a series of large scale electrolyzer configurations up to 100MW in size at Hannover Messe 2017 (24 - 28 April). This is in response to utility and oil and gas industry demand for larger scale industrial installations.

ITM Power has sold a number of MW-scale plants over the last year and is now responding to enquires for much larger plant for bus and heavy goods vehicle refueling stations in the to 10MW range and, increasingly, industrial applications ranging from power-to-gas, refineries and steel-making in the 10MW to 100MW range.

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Single Pt atom catalysts show enhanced catalytic activity for water-splitting; potential to drive down electrolysis cost

December 12, 2016

A research team from University of Western Ontario, McMaster University and Beijing Computational Science Research Center has developed an effective synthesis method to produce isolated single platinum (Pt) atoms and clusters for use as catalysts for the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) in water splitting to produce hydrogen.

In an open-access paper published in Nature Communications, the researchers reported that the single Pt atom catalysts exhibit significantly enhanced catalytic activity (up to 37 times) and high stability in comparison to the state-of-the-art commercial platinum/carbon (Pt/C) catalysts.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Ballard closes JV deal for fuel cell stack production in China

October 26, 2016

Ballard Power Systems has closed 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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TU Delft student team presents Forze VII hydrogen racer

August 08, 2016

TU Delft student team Forze presented the Forze VII hydrogen racer to the public for the first time on Sunday during the Gamma Racing Day at the TT Circuit in Assen.

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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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€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.

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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.

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Mercedes-Benz’ GLC F-CELL fuel-cell plug-in hybrid SUV coming in 2017

June 13, 2016

Daimler will introduce a series-production fuel-cell plug-in hybrid—the Mercedes-Benz GLC F-CELL—in 2017. (Earlier post.)

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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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