[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.]
BMW shows future drive technologies; 2 Series PHEV prototype, direct water injection in 3-cyl. engine, and fuel cell eDrive
July 02, 2015
During a driving event at the Miramas proving grounds in southern France, BMW presented future drive technologies, including the prototype of a BMW 2 Series Active Tourer with plug-in hybrid drive. This application of BMW eDrive technologies features the first PHEV system with a front/transverse-mounted combustion engine, high-voltage generator and road-linked all-wheel drive via an electric drive system at the rear axle.
The company also showcased the use of direct water injection to enhance the efficiency of combustion engines at higher performance levels while also significantly reducing fuel consumption and emissions in key driving cycles. Finally, BMW showcased a hydrogen fuel cell drive system as a future-focused variant of BMW eDrive (teased in a technical session during April’s SAE World Congress in Detroit) enabling all-electric driving with a high operating range and short refueling times. (BMW is collaborating with Toyota on fuel cell systems. Earlier post.)
Toyota, Nissan and Honda agree on details of H2 station support in Japan
July 01, 2015
Toyota Motor Corporation, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., and Honda Motor Co., Ltd. have agreed on key details of their joint support project for the development of hydrogen station infrastructure in Japan. (Earlier post.) The joint project (conducted alongside the Japanese government’s support for hydrogen stations) will cover one-third of the hydrogen station operating expenses incurred by infrastructure companies, and was first announced on 12 February.
Annual financial support per station is limited to ¥11 million (US$89,000). (The annual limit is ¥13 million (US$106,000) where two or more mobile stations are operated.) The partners envision funding support until around 2020. 100 hydrogen stations will be constructed initially, with a gradual increase expected thereafter. The total value of the support is estimated at around ¥5-6 billion (US$41-$49 million).
Study of size-dependent properties of Mg nanoparticles in H2 storage suggests path to better performance; potential for better on-board tanks
Although magnesium hydride (MgH2) is a promising solid-state hydrogen storage material, its slow hydrogen sorption kinetics have limited its application. Recent studies have shown, however, that with smaller Mg particles, the sorption kinetics improve. Since volume change during sorption generates stress, leading in turn to plastic deformation, the fundamentals of the mechanical deformation of the Mg particles are a significant issue.
Now, researchers from China and the US, including a colleague from GM R&D, have used in situ transmission electron microscopy to elucidate the size-dependent mechanical properties of Mg nanoparticles used for hydrogen storage. The team tested different sized nanoparticles to gauge their mechanical properties and discovered lessons on how one might engineer the nanoparticles to improve their performance. Their paper is published in the journal Applied Physics Letters.
Stanford team develops new low-voltage single-catalyst water splitter for hydrogen production
June 23, 2015
Researchers at Stanford University have developed a new low-voltage, single-catalyst water splitter that continuously generates hydrogen and oxygen. An open access paper describing the synthesis and functionality of the bi-functional non-noble metal oxide nanoparticle electrocatalysts appears in the journal Nature Communications.
In the reported study, the new catalyst achieved 10 mA cm−2 water-splitting current at only 1.51 V for more than 200 h without degradation in a two-electrode configuration and 1 M KOH—better than the combination of iridium and platinum as benchmark catalysts.
Automakers develop consensus list of priority locations for next 19 H2 fueling stations in California
June 16, 2015
The automaker OEM Advisory Group (OEM AG) of the California Fuel Cell Partnership (CaFCP) has developed a consensus list of recommended station priority locations for the next 19 hydrogen stations to be built in California. The OEM AG members are American Honda, General Motors, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen.
The priority locations represent general geographic areas that the OEM AG suggests be considered by the California Air Resources Board (ARB), station developers and the California Energy Commission (CEC) in planning the next phase of hydrogen station network development in California. (Earlier post.) The automakers consider their recommendations as preliminary and expect to refine them further through subsequent analysis and further consultation with stakeholders prior to future solicitations.
McGill team develops simple system for reversible H2 storage using organic cyclic hydrocarbons; alternative route to solar fuels
June 15, 2015
A team at McGill University in Canada has developed a reversible hydrogen storage/release system based on the metal-catalyzed hydrogenation and photo-induced dehydrogenation of organic cyclic hydrocarbons at room temperature. The system, they suggest in a paper published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, provides an alternative route to artificial photosynthesis for directly harvesting and storing solar energy in the form of chemical fuel.
The system easily switches between hydrogen addition (>97% conversion) and release (>99% conversion) with superior capacity of 7.1 H2 wt% using a rationally optimized platinum catalyst with high electron density, simply regulated by dark/light conditions. In a paper published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, the researchers reported that the photodriven dehydrogenation of cyclic alkanes gave an excellent apparent quantum efficiency of 6.0% under visible light illumination (420–600 nm) without any other energy input.
DOE Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Program Annual Merit Review Awards
Each year, at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Annual Merit Review and Peer Evaluation Meeting, the Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program presents awards for contributions to the overall efforts of the Program and to recognize achievements in specific areas. At last week’s merit review meeting, DOE made awards to 13 engineers and researchers.
Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program Awards. DOE awarded two Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program awards: one to George Parks of Fuel Science, the other to Jesse Schneider of BMW. (Schneider also recently received the 2015 James M. Crawford Technical Standards Board Outstanding Achievement Award from SAE for his work on hydrogen standards.)
DOE issues request for information on gas clean-up for fuel cell applications
June 02, 2015
The US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) has issued a request for information (DE-FOA-0001331) to obtain feedback and opinions from industry, academia, research laboratories, government agencies, and other stakeholders on the report findings from the Gas Clean-up for Fuel Cell Applications Workshop.
The Gas Clean-up for Fuel Cell Applications Workshop was held last year at Argonne National Laboratory, and featured 43 participants from industry (fuel cell, process solution providers, and material suppliers), government agencies, advocacy groups, universities, and national laboratories with expertise in the relevant fields. The objective of the workshop was to identify and prioritize:
DOE announces $26.6M SBIR/STTR FY15 Phase 1 Release 2 awards; fuel cells, batteries, power electronics and efficient combustion engines
May 28, 2015
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has selected 162 projects to receive about $26.6 million in the 2015 Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) Phase I Release 2 Awards. (Earlier post.) Of these, 16 are vehicle-related, encompassing projects developing batteries, power electronics and improved combustion engine technology including on-board reformers, and two are specifically hydrogen fuel cell-related.
Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) are Federal programs in which agencies with large research and development (R&D) budgets set aside a small fraction of their funding for competitions among small businesses only. Small businesses that win awards in these programs keep the rights to any technology developed and are encouraged to commercialize the technology. While the original charter of the program focused on technological innovation, the current programs have evolved to have a greater focus on commercialization.
Hydrogenics and Alstom Transport to develop and commercialize H2 fuel-cell commuter trains in Europe; €50M, 10-year agreement
May 27, 2015
Hydrogenics Corporation, a leading developer and manufacturer of hydrogen generation and hydrogen-based power modules, signed a 10-year exclusive agreement to supply Alstom Transport with hydrogen fuel cell systems for Regional Commuter Trains in Europe. Alstom Transport is a unit of Alstom, a France-based global leader in power generation, transmission and rail infrastructure with sales of €6.2 billion.
The agreement, valued at more than €50 million, includes the supply of at least 200 engine systems along with service and maintenance as necessary over a 10-year period. The fuel cell systems, based on Hydrogenics’s Heavy-Duty HD series fuel cells, will be developed to meet European train compliance regulations. The first units are expected to be delivered in 2016 following prototype work slated for late 2015.
Ballard to move to next phase of PEM fuel cell catalyst development project with Nisshinbo
May 26, 2015
Ballard Power Systems has received a purchase order from Nisshinbo Holdings Inc. for the next phase of Technology Solutions project work related to the development of a breakthrough catalyst technology intended to reduce manufacturing cost of certain proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells. The project has now been underway for approximately 2 years.
Nisshinbo is an energy company providing low-carbon, optimized products across a range of business lines, including chemicals, precision instruments, electronics, automotive brakes, textiles and paper. Nisshinbo has supplied Ballard with compression molded bipolar flow field plates for more than 10-years, for use in the manufacture of PEM fuel cell membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) used in various market applications.
Toyota reports new real-time observation method sets stage for more efficient, durable fuel cell stacks
May 18, 2015
Toyota Motor Corporation and Japan Fine Ceramics Center (JFCC) have developed a new observation technique that allows researchers to monitor the behavior of nanometer-sized particles of platinum during chemical reactions in fuel cells, so that the processes leading to reduced catalytic reactivity can be observed in real-time.
The aim of the new technique is to identify the behavior, conditions and materials that make platinum catalyst nanoparticles critical to fuel cell efficiency and longevity prone to “coarsening”, with the accompanying degradation of capability. The new real-time observation technique could lead to a new generation of more efficient and durable fuel cell stacks, Toyota suggested. Toyota researchers will present the technique and their findings at the upcoming 2015 JSAE Annual Congress (Spring).
Intelligent Energy showcasing 100kW hydrogen fuel cell architecture at JSAE Automotive Engineering Exposition
May 15, 2015
The company’s unique stack technology offers leading power densities of 3.5 kW/l (volumetric) and 3.0 kW/kg (gravimetric), while being engineered for low-cost, high-volume series production. Intelligent Energy’s 100kW architecture will be available to vehicle manufacturers through technology licensing programs and joint development agreements.
SAE World Congress panel highlights progress on H2 infrastructure and fuel cell vehicle commercialization
May 12, 2015
Although the SAE World Congress has been running panel sessions on fuel cell vehicle commercialization since 2005, this year was the first in which three participating automakers—Toyota, Hyundai and Honda—had fuel cell vehicles that customers can buy now or within a year. (Earlier post.) Many other OEMs are also working on development of fuel cell vehicles as well.
The PFL 799 technical executive expert panel at this year’s world Congress, chaired by Jesse Schneider (from BMW), invited those automakers as well as infrastructure leaders to discuss their progress in fuel cell technology and hydrogen infrastructure and challenges remaining. Participants included Hyundai, GM, Honda, Toyota, Linde and Air Liquide.
US-China team develops new class of catalyst superior to platinum for H2O splitting and H2 generation
May 11, 2015
|Potential sweeps caused substantial activity degradation for the Pt catalyst, but nearly no activity change for the NiAu/Au catalyst. Credit: ACS, Lv et al.. Click to enlarge.|
A team from Brown University, Wuhan University of Technology (China), Cal State University Northridge and Harbin Institute of Technology (China) has developed a new catalyst for a highly efficient hydrogen evolution reaction based on core/shell NiAu/Au nanoparticles (NPs).
In their paper, published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, the researchers go on to suggest that their approach is not limited to NiAu but can be extended to FeAu and CoAu as well, providing a general approach to MAu/Au NPs as a class of new catalyst with platinum-like activity and much superior durability for water splitting and hydrogen generation.
Toyota pops the hood on the technology of the fuel cell Mirai at SAE World Congress
April 29, 2015
|The new fuel cell stack in Mirai increases the current density by a factor of 2.4 compared to the conventional FC stack. Konno et al. Click to enlarge.|
At SAE 2015 World Congress last week, Toyota presented a set of four technical papers describing some of the technology innovations used in its production fuel cell hybrid electric vehicle Mirai (earlier post). The papers provide technical details on the high performance fuel-cell (FC) stack; specific insights into FC separator, and stack manifold; the newly developed boost converter; and the new high-pressure hydrogen storage system with innovative carbon fiber windings.
The Toyota papers were part of a larger World Congress technical session on practical hydrogen fuel cell technology: PFL 720, Advances in Fuel Cell Vehicle Applications, chaired by Jesse Schneider of BMW.
EPFL team develops effective membrane-less electrolysis process for H2 production; potential to outperform conventional designs
April 28, 2015
Researchers at EPFL in Switzerland have developed a system for producing hydrogen through a simplified membrane-less water electrolysis process. By working with the balance between fluid mechanic forces, the researchers eliminated the expensive membrane that sits between the electrodes in conventional electrolysis systems.
The membrane-less approach demonstrates for the first time an electrolyzer capable of operating robustly and continuously with various catalysts and electrolytes across the pH scale, while at the same time generating hydrogen gas streams the oxygen content of which is well below the safety limit. An open access paper on their discovery is published in the RSC journal Energy and Environmental Science.
Self-propelled catalytic microparticles boost hydrogen release from liquid storage media
April 27, 2015
Researchers at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) have developed catalytically active micromotors that significantly increase the release of hydrogen from liquid storage media. In a paper in the journal Angewandte Chemie, they introduce their new concept with a model vehicle powered by a hydrogen–oxygen fuel cell.
The new motion-based H2-generation concept relies on the continuous movement of Pt-black/Ti Janus microparticle motors in a solution of sodium borohydride (NaBH4). The autonomous motion of catalytic micromotors in the NaBH4 solution and their effective bubble generation provide a favorable hydrodynamic environment that significantly enhances the fuel supply to the catalytic surface, and thus to rapid H2 generation, compared with that obtained from a static catalyst: about 9.2-times more rapid.
DOE awarding up to $4.6M to four projects for advanced hydrogen storage materials
April 09, 2015
The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award up to $4.6 million for four projects to develop advanced hydrogen storage materials that have potential to enable longer driving ranges and help make fuel cell systems competitive for different platforms and sizes of vehicles.
On-board hydrogen storage continues to be a challenging barriers to the widespread commercialization of hydrogen-fueled vehicles. The DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE) hydrogen storage activity focuses primarily on the applied research and development of low-pressure, materials-based technologies to allow for a driving range of more than 300 miles (500 km) while meeting packaging, cost, safety, and performance requirements to be competitive with current vehicles.
Millbrook joins APC-funded consortium to develop fuel cell range-extended electric LCVs
March 30, 2015
Millbrook, one of Europe’s leading independent test and technology centers for vehicles and vehicle systems, will join a UK industry consortium to develop a new class of light commercial vehicle (LCV) combining fuel cell technology with battery electric vehicles to provide significantly improved range and rapid refueling. The consortium, led by Intelligent Energy (earlier post), will receive a £6.3-million ($9.3-million) grant from the UK’s Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) for the £12.7-million ($19-million) project. The other partners are Frost Electronics, Frost EV, CENEX, British Gas and DHL.
The three-year project will develop validated systems and vehicle conversion expertise ready for volume manufacture. The goal is also to provide fleet operators with a solution that enables vehicle operation for extended periods while being emissions-free at the tailpipe.
ITM Power awarded US$4.3M for hydrogen refueling stations in London
ITM Power has been awarded a total of £2.89 million (US$4.3 million) by the UK Hydrogen Refueling Stations (HRS) Infrastructure Grants Scheme, run by the Office of Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV). The award is to build two new HRS in London, sited with strategic partners and for the upgrading of four existing ITM Power refueling stations.
£1.89 million ($2.8 million) has been awarded to ITM Power and its partners to invest in two new HRS in London at strategic locations suitable for Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) roll-out. Both HRS will incorporate on-site hydrogen generation using the company’s PEM HGas electrolyzer platform. ITM Power will work closely with OEM FCEV providers to determine the best locations for siting.
DOE 2015 SBIR/STTR Phase 2 Release 1 awards include 3 hydrogen projects
March 24, 2015
The US Department of Energy announced 94 2015 Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) Phase 2 Release 1 Awards, including three Office of Science projects focusing on hydrogen production from electrolysis and hydrogen systems supporting fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). The 94 projects will receive about $96 million in total funding.
DOE’s key hydrogen objectives are to reduce the cost of producing and delivering hydrogen to less than $4 per gallon of gasoline equivalent (gge) to enable fuel cell vehicles to be competitive with gasoline vehicles. Key fuel cell objectives are to reduce fuel cell system cost to $40/kW and improve durability to 5,000 hours (equivalent to 150,000 miles of driving) for automotive fuel cell systems by 2020.
New Rutgers non-noble metal catalyst for hydrogen evolution performs as well as Pt in both acid and base
March 22, 2015
Researchers at Rutgers University have developed a new noble metal-free catalyst—Ni5P4 (nickel-5 phosphide-4)—performing on par with platinum for the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) in both strong acid and base. The development, the team concludes in a paper published in the RSC journal Energy & Environmental Science, can offer a key step towards industrially relevant electrolyzers competing with conventional H2 sources.
Currently, renewable hydrogen may be produced from water by electrolysis with either low efficiency alkaline electrolyzers that suffer 50–65% losses, or by more efficient acidic electrolyzers using expensive rare platinum group metal catalysts (Pt). Consequently, the authors noted, research has focused on developing alternative, cheap, and robust catalysts made from earth-abundant elements.
Obama orders GHG cuts for Federal Agencies; 50% of all new agency vehicles to be ZEV or PHEV by 2025
March 19, 2015
President Obama today signed a wide-ranging executive order mandating cuts in greenhouse gas emissions for Federal agencies. Through more efficient Federal operations, agency direct greenhouse gas emissions can be cut by at least 40% over the next decade, the order suggests. The order has operational directives for building and fleet management, electricity generation, water use, waste management and purchasing.
As an initial outcome, within 90 days the head of each agency sis to propose to the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) percentage reduction targets for agency-wide reductions of scope 1 and 2 and scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions in absolute terms by the end of fiscal year 2025 relative to a fiscal year 2008 baseline.
Northwestern-led team finds slightly imperfect graphene can serve as a highly selective proton separation membrane
March 18, 2015
Researchers from Northwestern University, together with collaborators from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the University of Virginia, the University of Minnesota, Pennsylvania State University and the University of Puerto Rico, have discovered that protons can transfer easily through graphene—conventionally thought to be unfit for proton transfer absent nanoscale holes or dopants—through rare, naturally occurring atomic defects.
In an open access paper published in the journal Nature Communications, the researchers reported that a slightly imperfect graphene membrane’s speed and selectivity are much better than that of conventional proton separation membranes, offering engineers a new and simpler mechanism for fuel cell design.
New bimetallic copper-titanium hydrogen evolution catalyst outperforms platinum by more than 2x
March 17, 2015
|Modeling study showing possible bimetallic sites on a Ti-modified Cu surface. The two Cu-Cu-Ti hollow sites exhibit HBE values close to that of Pt. The Cu-Ti-Ti hollow site binds hydrogen too strongly. Lu et al. Click to enlarge.|
A team from the University of Delaware and Columbia University, with colleagues at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, reports that a new hierarchical nanoporous copper-titanium bimetallic electrocatalyst is able to produce hydrogen from water under a mild overpotential at more than twice the rate of state-of-the-art carbon-supported platinum catalyst. An open-access paper on their work is published in the journal Nature Communications.
Although copper and titanium are poor hydrogen evolution catalysts by themselves, the combination of the two creates unique copper-copper-titanium hollow sites which have a hydrogen-binding energy (HBE) very similar to that of platinum, resulting in an exceptional hydrogen evolution activity, the team found. In addition, the hierarchical porosity of the nanoporouscopper-titanium catalyst provides a large-surface area for electrocatalytic hydrogen evolution, and improves the mass transport properties. Further, the catalyst is self-supported, eliminating the overpotential associated with the catalyst/support interface.
Highly efficient nickel-iron/nickel foam electrode for OER in water-splitting
Researchers from the University of New South Wales (Australia) have developed a highly efficient electrode for the oxygen evolution reaction (OER) in water-splitting that has the potential to be scaled up for industrial production of hydrogen. An open-access paper on their work is published in the journal Nature Communications.
Create by the electrodeposition of amorphous mesoporous nickel–iron composite nanosheets directly onto macroporous nickel foam substrates, the OER electrode exhibits high catalytic activity towards water oxidation in alkaline solutions, which only requires an overpotential of 200 mV to initiate the reaction, and is capable of delivering current densities of 500 and 1,000 mA cm−2 at overpotentials of 240 and 270 mV, respectively. The electrode also shows prolonged stability against bulkwater electrolysis at large current.
H2 Logic delivers H2 fast fueling station for Hamburg; first to achieve German CEP SAE J2601 approval
Shell Deutschland Oil GmbH inaugurated a new hydrogen fueling station based on H2Station technology from H2 Logic in Hamburg. The fueling station is the first in Germany to achieve Clean Energy Partnership (CEP) approval in accordance with the latest 2014 version of the SAE J2601 after third-party acceptance and verification tests. The standard ensures a fast and reliable fueling of hydrogen at 70MPa pressure, which provides long driving range. (Earlier post.)
The new hydrogen refueling station in Hamburg is part of a planned initial network of 50 stations in the country by 2015. This will be a first step in a planned continued roll-out of up to 400 stations onwards 2023, as part of the €350-million (US$369-million) H2Mobility Germany initiative.
Intelligent Energy introduces new high performance 100kW automotive fuel cell architecture
March 12, 2015
Intelligent Energy is expanding its PEM fuel cell offerings with a new 100 kW automotive fuel cell architecture. Designed to deliver primary motive power within an advanced electric driveline, the 100 kW fuel cell architecture and core technology will be available to vehicle manufacturers through technology licensing programs and joint development agreements.
The 100 kW platform takes full advantage of Intelligent Energy’s stack technology, which offers leading power density of 3.5 kW/l (volumetric) and 3.0 kW/kg (gravimetric), while being engineered for low cost, high volume series production. As points of comparison, the US Department of Energy (DOE) 2020 technical targets for an automotive fuel cell stack are 2.5 kW/l and 2 kW/kg. Toyota says that its new fuel cell stack in the Mirai offers 3.1 kW/l (2.2 times higher than that of the previous Toyota FCHV-adv limited-lease model) and 2.0 kW/kg. (Earlier post.)
DOE to award up to $35M to advance fuel cell and hydrogen technologies; fuel cell range extenders
March 03, 2015
The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced (DOE-FOA-0001224) up to $35 million in available funding to advance fuel cell and hydrogen technologies, and to enable early adoption of fuel cell applications, such as light duty fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). (Earlier post.)
As FCEVs become increasingly commercially available, the Energy Department is focused on reducing the costs and increasing technical advancements of critical hydrogen infrastructure including production, delivery, and storage. This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) covers a broad spectrum of the Fuel Cell Technology Office (FCTO) portfolio with areas of interest ranging from research and development (R&D) to demonstration and deployment projects.
Cal Energy Commission adopts report outlining how state transforming transportation system to meet climate goals
February 26, 2015
The California Energy Commission adopted its 2014 Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR) Update, which outlines, among many things, how the state is working to transform the transportation system to zero- and near-zero technologies and fuels to meet its climate and clean air goals. This report highlights the importance of incentives in helping speed this transition and specifically explores the role Assembly Bill 8, which makes more than $2 billion available for public investment, can play in helping to achieve this progress.
The Energy Commission also approved almost $16 million in research grants to help develop the next generation of energy efficient technologies for commercial and residential buildings; $11 million for projects to convert feedstock and waste into biofuels; and about $900,000 for natural gas innovations.
DOE FCTO selects 11 fuel cell incubator projects for up to $10M in awards; exploring alkaline exchange membrane FCs
The US Department of Energy (DOE) Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) has selected 11 projects to receive up to $10 million in funding through the fuel cell technology incubator FOA (earlier post) in support of innovations in fuel cell and hydrogen fuel technologies. The intention of these selections is to identify high-impact technologies that are not already addressed in FCTO’s strategic plan or mainstream project portfolio.
The selected projects will support research and development efforts to address critical challenges and barriers for hydrogen and fuel cell technology development. The projects selected have the potential significantly to lower the cost or improve the performance, durability, or efficiency of fuel cells or hydrogen fuel production. For example, in contrast to industry’s primary focus, which is polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFC), selected projects include a higher risk, completely different approach—alkaline exchange membrane fuel cells (AEMFC)—that can significantly reduce or even eliminate the need for expensive platinum as a catalyst in the long term. Such high-risk but high-impact potential projects complement the current FCTO portfolio.
French Post Office and Renault Trucks testing electric truck with fuel cell range extender
February 24, 2015
|Maxity Electric with fuel cell range extender. Click to enlarge.|
Renault Trucks and the French Post Office (La Poste) will introduce on an experimental basis, and as a first in Europe, an electric truck equipped with a hydrogen-powered range extender. The range-extended 4.5-ton Maxity Electric model doubles th electric truck range to 200 kilometers (124 miles) and will be tested for one year under actual operating conditions in the city Dole (Jura Department), allowing Renault Trucks to explore all potential avenues of hydrogen technology under actual operating conditions.
For La Poste, which at present owns the world's largest fleet of electric vehicles, this experiment is part of a continuous effort underway to extend the range of its fleet. For nearly a year, in the Franche-Comté Region, the Post Office has been testing, during carriers’ collection and distribution of mail and packages, Renault Kangoo Z.E. mail delivery vehicles with fuel cell range extenders. (Earlier post.)
Making the Mirai fuel cell vehicle
In Japan, Toyota Motor held a production ceremony at the Motomachi Plant, which first began production in 1959, to mark the production of the Mirai fuel cell vehicle, which the company launched in November 2014, and began selling in Japan in December 2014. (Earlier post.)
Motomachi has been home to some of Toyota’s most notable models, including the Publica, Corona, Cresta, Soarer, Supra, RAV4, and the Lexus LFA supercar. The former “LFA Works”—where craftspeople hand-built each of the 500 series limited Lexus supercars—is now the home of the Mirai. Toyota released a set of 5 short videos giving an overview of Mirai production, which delivers an estimated 3 units per day.
NEESC releases 2015 hydrogen & fuel cell development plans for eight Northeastern states; power generation and transportation
February 20, 2015
The Northeast Electrochemical Energy Storage Cluster (NEESC), administered by Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology Inc. (CCAT), released the 2015 Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Development Plans for each of the eight states in the Northeast US. The state-specific plans focus on hydrogen and fuel cell applications that are both technically and economically viable, and recommend specific goals for stationary and transportation hydrogen fuel cell deployment to meet economic, environmental, and energy needs.
Cumulative goals for the Northeast states include approximately 1,300 megawatts of installed stationary fuel cell capacity; 10,800 fuel cell electric vehicles; 640 fuel cell powered buses; and 110 hydrogen refueling stations to support the fuel cell electric vehicles and buses.
DOE workshop report on common opportunities and challenges in expanding use of H2 and natural gas vehicles
|Hydrogen and natural gas share a number of common entry to market barriers. Image from DOE EERE Fuel Cell Technologies Office. Click to enlarge.|
Sandia National Laboratories, supported by the DOE’s Vehicle Technologies and Fuel Cell Technologies Offices, recently released the workshop report “Transitioning the Transportation Sector: Exploring the Intersection of Hydrogen Fuel Cell and Natural Gas Vehicles.”
Held in September 2014, the workshop considered common opportunities and challenges in expanding the use of hydrogen and natural gas as transportation fuels. Organized by Sandia, the American Gas Association, and Toyota, the workshop included participants from the auto industry, freight delivery fleets, gas suppliers, gas storage developers, utilities, academia, industry associations, national laboratories, and federal and state governments.
Update on the GM-Honda collaboration on Gen 2 Fuel Cell Propulsion System
February 17, 2015
|Overview and partitioning of the GM-Honda collaboration on fuel cell propulsion. Click to enlarge.|
Over the past two years, GM and Honda have been collaborating on next-generation fuel cell and hydrogen storage systems, aiming at commercialization in the 2020 time frame. (Earlier post.) At the SAE 2015 Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Technologies Symposium in Los Angeles last week, Andrew Bosco, Chief Engineer for fuel cell engineering at GM, provided an progress update on the joint Gen 2 Fuel Cell Propulsion System. (At the SAE 2014 Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Technologies Symposium, Mark Mathias, Director, Fuel Cell R&D for GM, had also provided an update on the collaboration. Earlier post.)
As the two companies have emphasized from the beginning, Bosco reinforced that the current scope of the collaboration focuses on reducing the high cost of fuel cell specific systems: i.e., the fuel cell stack; balance of plant components; and hydrogen storage system (HSS). Development on the battery (regenerative ESS), fuel cell power electronics (FCPE); and electric traction system (ETS) is leveraging know-how and components from hybrids and battery-electric vehicle work.
Volkswagen Group acquires Ballard automotive fuel cell patent portfolio, extends engineering services contract in US$80+ million deal
February 11, 2015
Ballard Power Systems has entered into a Technology Solutions transaction with Volkswagen Group for an aggregate amount of approximately US$80 million for the transfer of certain automotive-related fuel cell intellectual property (IP) and a two-year extension of an engineering services contract. (Earlier post.)
Ballard will transfer the automotive-related portion of fuel cell IP assets previously acquired from United Technologies Corporation in return for payments from Volkswagen Group totaling US$50 million, a majority of which is expected to be received at the closing of the transaction during the current quarter. The remainder is expected to be received in early 2016.
FTA awarding $55M to 10 projects deploying battery-electric and fuel-cell buses
February 06, 2015
The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has selected 10 projects that will receive a share of $55 million in competitive grants that will help put a new generation of zero-emission buses on the road. Funding is provided through FTA’s Low or No Emission Vehicle Deployment Program (LoNo). (Earlier post.)
Established under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), the LoNo program focuses on deploying the cleanest and most energy-efficient US-made transit buses designed to cut CO2 and criteria pollutant emissions. Grants from the LoNo program help transit agencies integrate more of these advanced buses into their fleets. The selected projects are:
President’s 2016 Budget requests $29.9B for DOE; 9% boost over FY 2015 enacted; $793M (2.7%) for sustainable transportation
February 03, 2015
President Barack Obama’s 2016 Budget requests $29.9 billion for the US Department of Energy (DOE). The FY 2016 DOE Budget Request represents a 9% increase ($2.5 billion) above the FY 2015 enacted level.
42% of the DOE Budget Request ($12.6 billion) is for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), an increase of $1.2 billion over the FY 2015 Enacted level, to maintain a safe, secure, and effective nuclear weapons stockpile in the absence of nuclear testing and manage the research, development, and production activities and associated infrastructure maintenance and modernization needed to meet national nuclear security requirements.
Van Hool wins EU funding for 21 fuel cell buses; powered by Ballard FCvelocity-HD7 modules
January 29, 2015
Van Hool N.V. has signed a grant agreement with the EU Hydrogen Fuel Cell Joint Undertaking for deployment of 21 fuel cell buses in Europe as part of the 3Emotion Program. Ballard Power Systems and Van Hool, partners in the deployment of numerous fuel cell buses in Europe (earlier post), are in the process of finalizing an equipment supply agreement (ESA) for the provision by Ballard of 21 next-generation fuel cell power modules for the buses. Ballard anticipates receipt of purchase orders under the ESA that will lead to delivery of these fuel cell modules to Van Hool in 2015 and 2016.
Van Hool is a Belgium-based independent bus, coach and industrial vehicle OEM. There are currently 27 Van Hool fuel cell buses, powered by Ballard modules, in public transit operation. Ballard holds an estimated 80% share of the European market for fuel cell bus modules.
E3 study finds low-carbon gas fuels option for meeting Calif GHG reduction goals
January 28, 2015
A new study by Energy Environmental Economics (E3) consulting suggests that low-carbon gas fuels are a viable option for meeting California’s greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals and can simultaneously help achieve pollution emission reduction targets.Low-carbon gas fuels or “decarbonized gas” refers to gaseous fuels with a net-zero, or very low, greenhouse gas impact on the climate. These include fuels such as biogas, hydrogen and renewable synthetic gases produced with low lifecycle GHG emission approaches.
Hydrogenics to supply 1MW electrolyzer to project converting CO2 to methanol; Power-to-Gas
January 26, 2015
Hydrogenics Corporation will supply a 1MW electrolyzer and provide engineering expertise to a consortium of companies working on the European project MefCO2 (methanol fuel from CO2) in Germany. The application will take excess electricity from intermittent renewable energy sources, generate green hydrogen, and then create methanol using a low-carbon footprint production plant and carbon dioxide emissions from an existing coal-fired power plant in Essen, Germany owned by STEAG Gmbh, which operates a number of regional power plants and distributed energy facilities.
CO2 will be captured from the flue gases in a special downstream flue gas scrubber (Post-Combustion Capture, PCC). The Hydrogenics electrolyzer will produce 200 cubic meters of hydrogen per hour. The hydrogen and captured carbon dioxide will then be catalytically converted into methanol, with a daily yield of approximately one ton of methanol using approximately 1.4 tonnes of CO2.
Symbio FCell delivers first 5 Kangoo ZE electric utilities with fuel cell range extenders in La Manche
Symbio FCell has delivered the first five Renault Kangoo ZE Light commercial vehicles (LCVs) powered by its hydrogen Fuel Cell Range-Extender, as part of a full fleet project led by the Conseil Général de la Manche which will ultimately deploy 40 vehicles. (Earlier post.) La Manche is a département in West Normandy, France.
The Renault Kangoo ZE-H2 electric utility vehicles are equipped with the Symbio FCell Range-Extender. This technology recharges the battery when it drops below a certain level and permits the vehicle to be refueled with 1.8 kg of hydrogen, 1kg of which provides a range of more than 100 km (62 miles); the range-extender therefore almost doubles the daily range of battery powered vehicles, a significant improvement that makes hydrogen-powered electric vehicles more competitive in the automotive markets.
DOE to issue $35M funding opportunity for hydrogen and fuel cell technology; Class 1-2 fuel cell plug-in hybrids
January 24, 2015
The US Department of Energy (DOE) intends to issue a $35-million funding opportunity (FOA DE-FOA-0001224) (earlier post) covering a broad spectrum of its Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) portfolio with topics ranging from research and development (R&D) to demonstration and deployment projects.
In particular, the R&D areas of interest for this FOA will include hydrogen production via microbial biomass conversion; low PGM (Platinum Group Metal) catalyst development for PEM fuel cell applications; development of an integrated intelligent hydrogen dispenser; and fuel cell and hydrogen manufacturing R&D focusing on hydrogen delivery pipeline manufacturing R&D. This FOA also includes demonstration topic areas that will help to accelerate adoption of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies with specific interest in mobile hydrogen refuelers; fuel cell powered range extenders for light duty hybrid electric vehicles; and a Communities of Excellence topic featuring hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.
Cal State LA hydrogen station becomes first in state certified to sell to the public by the kilogram
January 21, 2015
The Cal State L.A. (CSULA) Hydrogen Research and Fueling Facility has become the first hydrogen station in California to be certified to sell fuel to the public by the kilogram measure. Although the state currently has other other hydrogen stations “open to the public”, these stations have had to sell hydrogen by the tank, explained Michael Dray, the technical operations manager of the Hydrogen Research and Fueling Facility at CSULA.
Selling by the tank required a flat price be paid, irrespective of the actual amount of hydrogen dispensed. The state Division of Measurement Standards barred even a mention of a sale price per unit, Dray said.
NCSU team develops catalyst for thermal hybrid water-splitting and syngas generation with exceptional conversion; H2 gas and liquid fuels
January 19, 2015
Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a highly effective new perovskite-promoted iron oxide redox catalyst for a hybrid solar-redox scheme they had proposed earlier for partial oxidation and water-splitting of methane.
In a paper published in the RSC journal Energy & Environmental Science, Feng He and Fanxing Li report that the new material—lanthanum strontium ferrite (La0.8Sr0.2FeO3-δ or LSF) supported Fe3O4—is capable of converting more than 67% steam with high redox stability. In contrast, previously reported ferrite materials typically exhibit 20% or lower steam to hydrogen conversion.
California approves another $18M for clean energy projects; $12M for alternative vehicles
January 15, 2015
The California Energy Commission approved nearly $18 million to fund projects that will help the state meet its climate and energy goals. Twelve million dollars will go toward three alternative fuel projects, $4 million will help fund two geothermal projects and $3.5 million will help fund local energy efficiency projects.
The three alternative fuels projects will receive funding through the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP), which supports technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on petroleum-based fuels. Recipients include:
Honda brings FCV Concept to N. America, promises new EV and PHEV models by 2018
January 13, 2015
Honda staged the North American debut of the Honda FCV fuel cell vehicle at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS); the company also announced US availability for the FCV in 2016. (Earlier post.)
Honda also used the venue to announce that it will offer several next-generation, advanced powertrain vehicles, including a new battery-electric model and plug-in hybrid model by 2018. Additionally, Honda said it plans further application of its two- and three-motor hybrid systems in the years to come. Honda also announced plans to introduce new VTEC Turbo engines to be built in Ohio and debut later in 2015.
New Toyota/Hino fuel cell bus uses fuel cell system from Mirai
January 08, 2015
|Toyota fuel cell bus. Click to enlarge.|
Toyota Motor Corporation and Hino Motors, Ltd. have built a new version of their fuel cell bus. The new bus was developed jointly by Toyota and Hino based on a Hino hybrid non-step route bus and is equipped with the Toyota Fuel Cell System developed for the Mirai fuel cell vehicle. (Earlier post.)
The two companies leveraged their accumulated specialized technologies and expertise, with Toyota being responsible for development of the Toyota Fuel Cell System, while Hino handled development of the bus body, including the chassis. The new fuel cell bus is scheduled to service the Toyota Oiden bus route in Toyota City from 9 January.
ARPA-E issues $125M open solicitation for energy R&D; transportation and stationary applications
January 07, 2015
The US Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) has issued a $125-million open Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA). OPEN 2015 (DOE-FOA-0001261) will support the development of potentially disruptive new technologies in all areas of energy research and development, for both transportation and stationary applications.
OPEN 2015 is the third open funding solicitation issued by the agency. Open solicitations ensure that ARPA-E does not miss opportunities to support potentially transformational projects outside the scope of existing ARPA-E programs. The projects selected under OPEN 2015 will pursue novel approaches to energy innovation and support the development of potentially disruptive new technologies across the full spectrum of energy applications.
Mercedes-Benz unveils self-driving fuel cell hybrid luxury concept at CES; novel body structures
January 06, 2015
In a world premiere, Mercedes-Benz unveiled the self-driving fuel cell hybrid electric F 015 Luxury in Motion concept at the CES. In addition to its autonomous driving capability, a key aspect of the research vehicle is the continuous exchange of information between vehicle, passengers, and the outside world.
The drive system is based on the pioneering F-CELL PLUG-IN HYBRID system seen in the F 125! research vehicle from 2011 (earlier post), and combines on-board generation of electricity with an exceptionally powerful and compact high-voltage battery. The pressure tank made from CFRP is designed to store the hydrogen. (The drive system in the 2011 F 125!, which generated a continuous output of 170 kW (231 hp) and a peak output of 230 kW (313 hp), featured the latest Mercedes-Benz stack, a 10 kWh Li-sulfur battery, four wheel motors and structure-integrated hydrogen storage with MOFs.)
The stack in the F 125!, which is further improved with respect to performance, consumption and practical suitability, provides the power for four electric motors installed near the wheels. The modular e4MATIC system, which also uses improved drive components from the SLS AMG E-CELL, . This accelerates the F 125! to 100 km/h in 4.9 seconds, with a top speed of 220 km/h (137 mph).
Toyota inviting royalty-free use of ~5,680 hydrogen fuel cell patents
January 05, 2015
At CES, Toyota announced that it will invite royalty-free use of approximately 5,680 fuel cell related patents held globally, including critical technologies developed for the new Toyota Mirai. The list includes approximately 1,970 patents related to fuel cell stacks, 290 associated with high-pressure hydrogen tanks, 3,350 related to fuel cell system software control and 70 patents related to hydrogen production and supply.
The announcement covers only fuel cell-related patents wholly owned by Toyota. Patents related to fuel cell vehicles will be available for royalty-free licenses until the end of 2020. Patents for hydrogen production and supply will remain open for an unlimited duration. As part of licensing agreements, Toyota will request, but will not require, that other companies share their fuel cell-related patents with Toyota for similar royalty-free use.
DOE to award up to $2M to 3 projects for hydrogen and fuel cell supply chain and manufacturing analysis
December 24, 2014
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has selected three projects to receive up to $2 million in new funding for analysis of the hydrogen and fuel cells domestic supply chain and manufacturing competitiveness. Funded in part by the Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative, this funding opportunity supports the Department’s broader effort to boost US competitiveness in the manufacturing sector.
The projects selected will support activities that facilitate the development and expansion of the domestic supply chain of components and systems necessary for the manufacturing and scale-up of hydrogen and fuel cell systems in the United States. Awardees will also conduct competitive analysis of global hydrogen and fuel cell manufacturing aimed at quantifying trade patterns and identifying key drivers of US competitiveness.
Sandia Labs and Linde partner to expand hydrogen fueling network; performance-based design for stations
December 17, 2014
|New Linde hydrogen station. Click to enlarge.|
Sandia National Laboratories and Linde LLC have signed an umbrella Cooperative Research & Development Agreement (CRADA) they expect to accelerate the development of low-carbon energy and industrial technologies, beginning with hydrogen and fuel cells.
The CRADA will begin with two new research and development projects to accelerate the expansion of hydrogen fueling stations to continue to support the market growth of fuel cell electric vehicles now emerging from the major auto manufacturers. The first will focus on performance-based design for hydrogen stations. The second focuses on safety aspects of the NFPA code.
Fujitsu launches hydrogen station data management service to support spread of fuel-cell vehicles
December 16, 2014
In conjunction with the start of sales of Toyota’s Mirai fuel cell vehicle in Japan (earlier post), Fujitsu launched a hydrogen station data management service, the first in Japan, enabling people to access real-time information on the location and hours of operation of hydrogen stations, both stationary and mobile.
The service uses the Fujitsu Intelligent Society Solution SPATIOWL cloud service to integrate information on the location of hydrogen stations and operating hours input by registered hydrogen suppliers. Information on the hydrogen stations is then transmitted in real time by car companies, through their data centers, to the car navigation systems and smartphones of fuel-cell vehicle users.
California makes first investments in $100M energy research & development program; also biogas and H2
December 11, 2014
The California Energy Commission approved its first $10 million to fund Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) research and development (R&D) projects during its monthly business meeting today. The Commission also approved grants for the operation of a hydrogen fueling station, biofuel production, geothermal exploration and rooftop solar for schools.
EPIC is a multi-year, research investment program focused on electricity-related innovations, finding new energy solutions and bringing clean energy ideas to the marketplace. The program’s 2012-2014 plan calls for investing $330 million between 2014 and 2015 in innovative technologies that provide benefits to electric ratepayers served by Pacific Gas and Electric Co., Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric Co. The seven awards approved will fund applied R&D projects that will develop utility-scale renewable energy generation technologies.
HyperSolar reaches 1.25 V for water-splitting with its self-contained low-cost photoelectrochemical nanosystem
December 10, 2014
HyperSolar, Inc. announced that it had reached 1.25 volts (V) of water-splitting voltage with its novel low-cost electrolysis technology. Future development efforts will focus on increasing the currents and photovoltages beyond 1.5V.
The theoretical minimum voltage needed to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen is 1.23 V (at 25 °C at pH 0). However, in real world systems, 1.5 V or more is generally needed because of the low reaction kinetics. So far, other researchers have mainly achieved this voltage level through the use of either inefficient materials, such as titanium oxide, or very expensive semiconductors, such as gallium arsenide, HyperSolar noted. Further, overcoming the corrosive degradation of these “artificial photosynthesis” systems remains a challenge and has thus far eluded commercialization.
Sandia study finds underground geologic storage of hydrogen could boost transportation, energy security
December 09, 2014
Underground large-scale geologic storage of hydrogen for transportation fuel and grid-scale energy applications could offer substantial storage cost reductions as well as buffer capacity to meet possible disruptions in supply or changing seasonal demands, according to a recent Sandia National Laboratories study sponsored by the Department of Energy’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office.
Geologic storage of hydrogen gas could make it economically possible to produce and distribute large quantities of hydrogen fuel for a growing fuel cell electric vehicle market. The main findings of the economic analysis, published in the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, show that geologic limitations rather than city demand cause a larger disparity between costs from one city to the next.
DOE issues FY 2015 SBIR/STTR Release 2 funding opportunity, including hydrogen fuel cells, electric drive batteries
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has issued its FY 2015 Phase I Release 2 Funding Opportunity Announcement (DE-FOA-0001227) for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs. Technical topics for this FOA—which span the range of DOE interests from fossil to nuclear to renewable and low-carbon energies—include two hydrogen- and fuel-cell-related topics: fuel cell-battery electric hybrid trucks and in-line quality control devices for polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells.
Also included are electric drive vehicle batteries, power electronics, on-board reformers, and advanced crank and ignition mechanisms for combustion engines.
Novel single-site gold WGS catalysts may offer pathway to lower-cost production of hydrogen, fuels and chemicals
December 02, 2014
A team of researchers from universities and national laboratories led by Tufts University has developed catalysts composed of a unique structure of single gold atoms bound by oxygen to several sodium or potassium atoms and supported on non-reactive silica materials. This single-site gold species is active for the low-temperature (< 200 °C) water-gas shift (WGS) reaction that produces hydrogen.
They thus have found that gold is similar to platinum in creating –O and –OH linkages with more than eight alkali ions and establishing an active site on various supports. This finding paves the way for using earth-abundant supports to disperse and to stabilize precious metal atoms with alkali additives for the WGS and potentially other fuel processing reactions. The result could be lower costs. A paper describing their work is now published in Science Express.
Univ. of Manchester team finds monolayer graphene permeable to protons; implications for PEM fuel cell and other hydrogen technologies
November 28, 2014
Researchers at the University of Manchester in the UK have found that monolayers of graphene—which, as a perfect monolayer is impermeable to all gases and liquids—and its sister material boron nitride (BN) are highly permeable to protons, especially at elevated temperatures and if the films are covered with catalytic nanoparticles such as platinum. The finding could have a significant impact on proton exchange membrane fuel cell technologies and other hydrogen-based technologies.
The discovery is reported in the journal Nature by an international team led by Professor Sir Andre Geim, who, with Professor Sir Kostya Novoselov succeeded in producing, isolating, identifying and characterizing graphene in 2004 at the University of Manchester, an achievement for which the pair won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010. (Graphene had been studied theoretically as far back as 1947; professors Geim and Novoselov were the first to fabricate and to study the material.)
Lux Research: fuel cell vehicles lag other drivetrains in terms of cost of ownership; ICE and HEV lowest cost
November 24, 2014
Based on an analysis of various cost of ownership scenarios for various drivetrains, including internal combustion engine (ICE) gasoline and diesel; hybrid (HEV); battery-electric (EV); plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV); and fuel cell vehicles, Lux Research concludes that fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) are “solidly in a laggard position.”
The Lux analysts ran scenarios associated with operation and ownership, broken out into fuel cost alone; fuel cost plus operation, but excluding purchase or lease; and fuel cost plus operation, including purchase or lease (total ownership cost). When looking at fuel cost only, EVs lead the way due to the relatively low price of electricity, followed by various types of hybrids (HEVs and PHEVs). Fuel cell vehicles can match EV fuel costs at $3/kg dispensed H2—a price highly unlikely in near-term, Lux said.
DOE reports progress on development of low-carbon and renewable sources of hydrogen production
November 21, 2014
The US Department of Energy (DOE) Fuel Cell Technologies Office’ (FCTO) 2014 Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program Annual Progress Report (earlier post)—an annual summary of results from projects funded by DOE’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program—described progress in the field of hydrogen production.
The objective of the Hydrogen Production sub-program is to reduce the cost of hydrogen dispensed at the pump to a cost that is competitive on a cents-per-mile basis with competing vehicle technologies. Based on current analysis, this translates to a hydrogen threshold cost of <$4 per kg hydrogen (produced, delivered, and dispensed, but untaxed) by 2020, apportioned to <$2/kg for production only.
Quick drive of the Passat HyMotion hydrogen fuel cell hybrid
November 20, 2014
Volkswagen unveiled the Golf Sportwagen HyMotion hydrogen fuel cell hybrid research vehicle demonstrator yesterday at the Los Angeles Auto Show (earlier post). Volkswagen has also built several research vehicles based on the US version of the Passat using the same hydrogen drivetrain components as fitted in the Golf SportWagen HyMotion.
The fleet of Passat HyMotion vehicles is currently being tested on the streets of California. In addition, Volkswagen brought a pair of the hydrogen Passats to the Los Angeles Auto Show for test drives (and Audi brought a pair of its A7 Sportback h-tron hydrogen fuel cell plug-in hybrids for drives, as well.)
Volkswagen Group shows 3 hydrogen fuel cell concepts at LA Show: Audi A7 Sportback h-tron; Golf Sportwagen HyMotion; Passat HyMotion
|Audi A7 Sportback h-tron. Click to enlarge.|
Audi and Volkswagen, both members of the Volkswagen Group, unveiled three hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle demonstrators at the Los Angeles Auto Show: the sporty Audi A7 Sportback h-tron quattro, a plug-in fuel-cell electric hybrid featuring permanent all-wheel drive and the Golf Sportwagen HyMotion, a fuel-cell hybrid, both received a formal introduction in the companies’ press conferences. Further, Volkswagen brought two Passat HyMotion demonstrators for media drives. (The Golf and Passat models have identical hydrogen powertrains and control software.)
All three incorporate a fourth-generation, 100 kW LT PEM (Low Temperature Proton Exchange Membrane) fuel cell stack developed in-house by Volkswagen Group Research at the Volkswagen Technology Center for Electric Traction. (Volkswagen is tapping some expertise from Ballard engineers under a long-term services contract, earlier post.) The Group is already at work on its fifth-generation version, said Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Board of Management for Technical Development at Audi, during a fuel cell technology workshop held at the LA show, and may be ready to talk about that technology by the end of next year.
Honda to provide $13.8M to FirstElement Fuel to support build out of California hydrogen refueling infrastructure
Seeking to expand California’s public hydrogen refueling station network as a means to support the wider introduction of fuel-cell vehicles, Honda will provide $13.8 million in financial assistance to FirstElement Fuel to build additional hydrogen refueling stations around the state. Additional state grants, combined with the Honda financing, could enable FirstElement to add at least 12 stations to its California hydrogen network.
FirstElement received grants totaling nearly $27 million from the California Energy Commission earlier this year to build a network of 19 stations around the state. The state of California has a plan to invest $200 million into hydrogen station development over the next several years. This financial support from Honda, along with anticipated future grants from the State of California, will allow FirstElement to expand its network of stations by more than 50%, to at least 31 stations.
Toyota FCV Mirai launches in LA; initial TFCS specs; $57,500 or $499 lease; leaning on Prius analogy
November 18, 2014
|Mirai. Click to enlarge.|
In addition to the vehicle’s introduction in Japan, Toyota launched the Mirai—a four-door, mid-size fuel cell sedan with performance that fully competes with traditional internal combustion engines—in Los Angeles on the eve of the Los Angeles Auto Show. The hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle re-fuels in 3–5 minutes, travels up to 300 miles (482 km) on a full tank, and will be available to customers in California beginning in fall 2015. Additional markets will follow, tracking the expansion of a convenient hydrogen refueling infrastructure.
The Mirai uses the Toyota Fuel Cell System (TFCS), which features both fuel cell technology and hybrid technology, and includes proprietary Toyota-developed components including the fuel cell (FC) Stack, FC boost converter, and high-pressure hydrogen tanks. The TFCS is more energy-efficient than internal combustion engines and emits no CO2 or substances of concern (SOCs) when driven. The system accelerates Mirai from 0–60 in 9.0 seconds and delivers a passing time of 3 seconds from 25–40 mph. Fuel consumption figures are to come.
Honda FCV Concept makes world debut in Japan; Power Exporter concept
November 17, 2014
The Honda FCV Concept, Honda’s latest fuel-cell vehicle concept, made its world debut today in Japan. The Honda FCV Concept showcases the styling evolution of Honda’s fuel-cell vehicle anticipated to launch in Japan by March of 2016, followed by the US and Europe. Honda also unveiled the Honda Power Exporter Concept, a concept model for an external power feeding device that enables AC power output from the FCV with maximum output of 9 kW.
Honda had introduced an earlier version, the FCEV concept, at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show. (Earlier post.) The Honda FCV Concept features a low and wide aerodynamic body with clean character lines. The interior takes advantage of new powertrain packaging efficiencies delivering more passenger space than its predecessor, the FCX Clarity (earlier post), including seating for up to five people.
DOE reports progress on development of hydrogen storage technologies
The US Department of Energy (DOE) Fuel Cell Technologies Office’ (FCTO) 2014 Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program Annual Progress Report (earlier post)—an annual summary of results from projects funded by DOE’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program—described a number of advances in the field of hydrogen storage.
The DOE Hydrogen Storage sub-program has developed a dual strategy. For the near-term, the focus is on improving performance and lowering the cost of high-pressure compressed hydrogen storage systems. For the long-term, the effort is on developing advanced cold/cryo-compressed and materials-based hydrogen storage system technologies.
Toshiba to partner with Kawasaki City on 5-year demo of independent energy supply system utilizing solar power and hydrogen
November 14, 2014
Toshiba Corporation and Kawasaki City will conduct a cooperative demonstration experiment of an independent energy supply system utilizing solar power and hydrogen. This system will be set up in the Kawasaki Marien public facility and Higashi-Ogishima-Naka Park in the Kawasaki Port area. The demonstration will run from April 2015 (the beginning of fiscal 2015) until the end of fiscal 2020 (March 2021).
The independent energy supply system combines a 25 kW photovoltaic facility; a storage battery; hydrogen-producing water electrolysis equipment; hydrogen (275 Nm3) and water tanks; and fuel cells. Electricity generated from the photovoltaic installations will be used to electrolyze water and produce hydrogen, which will then be stored in hydrogen tank and used in the fuel cells to provide electricity and hot water (60ℓ/h). Hydrogen electrical power storage capacity is 350 kWh. (Hydrogen storage capacity increases by about a maximum of 20%, depending on the weather.)
DOE 2014 Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Progress Report highlights substantial progress
November 13, 2014
The US Department of Energy (DOE) Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) has posted the 2014 edition of its annual Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program Annual Progress Report—a nearly 1,000-page document. The report summarizes the reports provided each year by projects funded by DOE’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program and offers additional information about recent Program accomplishments.
The Program engages in research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) of critical improvements in hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, as well as other activities to overcome obstacles to commercialization. The Program integrates basic and applied research, technology development and demonstration, and other supporting activities. Over the past year, said Dr. Sunita Satyapal, Director, FCTO, “the Program made substantial progress toward its goals and objectives.”
DOE fuel cell market report shows continued growth, with sales surpassing $1.3B worldwide in 2013
November 12, 2014
The US Department of Energy (DOE) released the 2013 edition of its annual Fuel Cell Technologies Market Report, detailing trends in the fuel cell and hydrogen technologies market. More than 35,000 fuel cell systems were shipped in 2013, an increase of more than 26% over 2012 and 400% more than 2008. In 2013, worldwide fuel cell industry sales surpassed $1 billion for the first time, reaching $1.3 billion.
Although early markets such as stationary power and material handling account for the bulk of sales, DOE noted that the fuel cell industry made “tremendous progress” in the light-duty transportation sector in 2013. Achievements include the launch of H2USA (earlier post), a public private partnership focusing on overcoming the barriers to hydrogen infrastructure. The UK launched a similar initiative called UK H2Mobility (earlier post). Hyundai began leasing its first series production fuel cell electric vehicle at select dealerships in Southern California. (Earlier post.)
Ongoing market rollout for SAE hydrogen fueling standards
November 10, 2014
At the Fuel Cell Seminar and Energy Exposition (FCS&EE) today in Los Angeles (co-sponsored by the US Department of Energy (DOE), Toyota and Honda, among others), SAE is providing a short course on “SAE H2 Fueling Standardization”; the course is presented by Jesse Schneider from BMW and Steve Mathison from Honda, both of whom have been deeply involved in the development of the SAE hydrogen fueling standards. (Earlier post.) The event is the most recent example of a concerted effort to educate stakeholders and encourage the implementation of the SAE hydrogen fueling standards.
Validated in the lab and proven in the field over the last decade, these standards provide the basis for hydrogen fueling for the first generation of infrastructure worldwide. There are currently four SAE standards in this area: the geometry of the fueling nozzle-receptacle interface (SAE J2600); hydrogen fuel quality (SAE J2719); FCEV to hydrogen station communication (SAE J2799); and hydrogen fueling (SAE J2601).
Opinion: Debunking the myths—Why fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) are viable for the mass market
November 07, 2014
by Dr. Henri Winand, CEO of Intelligent Energy
2014 has been a year of rapid growth for the fuel cell market with positive progress being made globally, especially in markets such as US, UK, Germany, France and Japan. Public-private investment initiatives, government funding for infrastructure and consumer subsidies, falling production costs and notably, the commitment to future OEM launches of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs)—all indicate a clear road to adoption. The findings from last year’s UK H2 Mobility report support this conclusion, outlining that FCEVs represent an attractive and sustainable long-term business proposition and that they can deliver important environmental and economic benefits to the UK.
Despite the recent progress, a number of myths around the use, power efficiency and cost of fuel cells still exist.
Daimler opens new MB R&D center in Beijing, presents G-Code hydrogen-electric plug-in hybrid all-wheel drive concept
November 04, 2014
Daimler Greater China opened its new 865-million RMB Mercedes-Benz Research & Development Center in China and extended its local R%D network in Beijing. A new Advanced Design Studio is a centerpiece of the R&D facility and represents the company’s new design hub in Asia. At the official opening, Gorden Wagener, Head of Design Daimler AG, presented the Mercedes-Benz G-Code plug-in hybrid crossover show car.
The G-Code is powered by two individually controlled drive cores: a compact, turbocharged hydrogen-fueled combustion engine which solely drives the front wheels, and an electric motor which drives the rear axle and transmits its power selectively to the two wheels via a dual multi-disc clutch. Disclaimer: Mercedes-Benz emphasized that the G-Code, like the previously introduced Ener-G-Force and GT 6 vehicle studies, “makes absolutely no claim to be implemented within foreseeable periods.”
Rice University researchers create dual-purpose edge-oriented MoS2 film for energy storage, hydrogen catalysis
November 03, 2014
The Rice lab of chemist James Tour has turned molybdenum disulfide’s two-dimensional form into a edge-oriented nanoporous film that can catalyze the production of hydrogen or be used for energy storage as part of a supercapacitor device.
The versatile chemical compound, classified as a dichalcogenide, is inert along its flat sides; however, previous studies determined the material’s edges are highly efficient catalysts for hydrogen evolution reaction (HER), a process used in fuel cells to pull hydrogen from water. Tour and his colleagues found a cost-effective way to create flexible films of the material that maximize the amount of exposed edge and have potential for a variety of energy-oriented applications. A paper on the research appears in the journal Advanced Materials.
DOE seeking feedback on findings of hydrogen production and delivery workshops
October 29, 2014
The US Department of Energy's Fuel Cell Technologies Office has issued two requests for information (RFIs) seeking feedback from the research community and relevant stakeholders about electrolytic hydrogen production (DE-FOA-0001188) and hydrogen delivery research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) activities (DE-FOA-0001187) aimed at developing technologies that can ultimately produce and deliver low-cost hydrogen.
The purpose of these RFIs is to solicit feedback from industry, academia, research laboratories, government agencies, and other stakeholders on issues related to electrolytic hydrogen production pathways and hydrogen transmission and distribution, specifically with respect to reports developed at workshops on the topics convened by the DOE in February.
DOE launches $1M H2 Refuel H-Prize for small-scale hydrogen refueling
The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) and the Hydrogen Education Foundation (HEF) launched the $1-million H2 Refuel H-Prize. The two-year competition challenges America’s engineers and entrepreneurs to develop affordable systems for small-scale hydrogen fueling. This H-Prize competition is intended to assist in expanding the hydrogen infrastructure across the country to support more transportation energy options for US consumers, including fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs).
The H2 Refuel H-Prize will award a $1-million prize to the top refueler system entry that can produce hydrogen using electricity and/or natural gas (energy sources commonly available to residential locations) and dispense the hydrogen to a vehicle. Systems considered would be at the home-scale and able to generate and dispense 1-5 kg H2/day for use at residences, or the medium-scale, generating and dispensing 5-50 kg H2/day. Medium-scale systems would serve a larger community with multiple users daily, such as a large apartment complex or retail centers to fuel small fleets of vehicles (e.g., light duty automobiles, forklifts or tractors).
Swedish Energy Agency awards PowerCell $960K toward developing modular fuel cell range extender system for EVs
October 22, 2014
The Swedish Energy Agency has awarded Volvo Group spinout PowerCell SEK7 million (US$965,000) for the MoRE Zero project to develop a fuel cell system for use in a modular range extender system for electric vehicles in the European ERA-NET project. The kick-off meeting of the MoRE Zero project took place on June 2014.
PowerCell will develop a modular and scalable fuel cell system in the order of 20-25 kW. The fuel cell systems will be integrated and demonstrated in three different types of electric vehicles: a small 3.5-tonne truck provided by IDIADA; a 5-tonne minibus or 10-tonne small bus provided By Hexagon Studio; and an 18-tonne heavy truck provided by E-Trucks Europe. The modular range-extender system will comprise:
Novel bi-metallic palladium-tungsten nano-alloy an efficient low-cost fuel cell catalyst; simple microwave synthesis
October 16, 2014
Swedish and Chinese researchers have fashioned a novel nano-alloy composed of palladium nano-islands embedded in tungsten nanoparticles supported on ordered mesoporous carbon as an efficient fuel cell catalyst. In a paper in the journal Nature Communications, they reported that despite a very low percentage of noble metal (palladium:tungsten=1:8), the hybrid catalyst material exhibits a performance equal to commercial 60% platinum/Vulcan for the oxygen reduction reaction in a fuel cell.
The researchers attributed the high catalytic efficiency to the formation of small palladium islands embedded at the surface of the palladium–tungsten bimetallic nanoparticles, generating catalytic hotspots. The palladium islands are ~1 nm in diameter, and contain 10–20 palladium atoms that are segregated at the surface. The results, they said, may provide insight into the formation, stabilization and performance of bimetallic nanoparticles for catalytic reactions.
Report: Toyota to begin sales of fuel cell sedan in Japan this December
October 15, 2014
The Nikkei reports that Toyota will begin sales of its new hydrogen fuel cell vehicle (FCV), reportedly named Mirai, in Japan in December. The company had earlier said the fuel cell sedan would be on sale in Japan before April 2015, and in the US and Europe by summer 2015. (Earlier post.)
The Nikkei said that Toyota had planned to make 700 of the fuel cell cars annually, but that initial demand is already reaching close to 1,000. The company will consider raising output based on the progress of the deployment of the refueling infrastructure required.
New Flyer to start development of first 60' fuel cell hybrid bus in North America; introduces 40' battery-electric bus
October 14, 2014
New Flyer Industries Inc. is developing the first North American designed and built 60-foot battery-electric/fuel cell hybrid bus that will operate in daily service. CALSTART, which will administer the project for the FTA, received the green light from the FTA for work to proceed.
The electric propulsion system being integrated into New Flyer’s Buy America-compliant Xcelsior X60 heavy-duty transit bus platform includes a combination of batteries, a fuel cell, and hydrogen storage. The electric drive bus will allow the fuel cell to operate at a relative steady-state, while the batteries will be able to both capture breaking energy and provide power for acceleration.
UK putting up nearly $18M to establish initial hydrogen refueling network of up to 15 stations
October 09, 2014
UK Business Minister Matthew Hancock announced up to £11 million (US$17.7 million) of funding to help establish an initial network of up to 15 hydrogen refueling stations by the end of 2015. Of the £11 million, £7.5 million (US$12 million) will come from government and £3.5 million (US$5.6 million) from industry. Toyota earlier this month announced that the UK will be one of the first markets for its FCEV when it goes on sale next year.
Of the funding, £2 million (US$3.2 million) will go to upgrade 6 to 8 existing hydrogen refueling stations (already operational or under development in the UK) and take them from demonstrator projects to publicly accessible sites.
Daimler, Linde to invest €20M in 20 new H2 fueling stations in Germany, 13 by end of 2015; green hydrogen
October 08, 2014
Daimler and The Linde Group are partnering with oil and gas companies TOTAL, OMV, Avia and Hoyer this year to build 20 new hydrogen fueling stations in Germany, with 13 to be completed by the end of 2015. Daimler and Linde are each investing around €10 million for ten fueling stations each. The ‘H2 Mobility’ initiative, of which Daimler, Linde, TOTAL and OMV are also part, agreed last year on a detailed plan of action to expand the hydrogen fueling network to around 400 stations by 2023. (Earlier post.)
Linde already secures half of the hydrogen for existing Clean Energy Partnership (CEP) hydrogen fueling stations from “green” sources, and it will power the 20 new stations with fully regenerative hydrogen. The gas is obtained from crude glycerol—a by-product of biodiesel production—at a dedicated pilot plant at Linde’s gases center in Leuna. (Earlier post.) The plant reprocesses, pyrolyzes and reforms raw glycerol to produce hydrogen.
Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-CELL fuel cell vehicle cracks 300,000 kilometer mark; Daimler receives f-cell Award 2014
A B-Class F-CELL fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) (earlier post) from Mercedes-Benz’ current FCEV fleet has achieved a continuous running record of more than 300,000 kilometers (186,411 miles) under normal everyday conditions. The still running test shows that fuel cell cars are reliable even under extreme stress and over several years, Daimler said.
Produced under series production conditions, the Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-CELL has been in day-to-day use with customers in the European and US markets since 2010. The total mileage of the Daimler fuel cell fleet, which now numbers more than 300 vehicles, including numerous research vehicles, has passed the 9-million-kilometer mark (5.6 million miles). Based on the current and pending results, the Mercedes engineers expect to identify further potential for optimization, which will flow directly into the development of the next generation of fuel cell electric vehicles.
Swedish Energy Agency grants PowerCell $1.4M loan for the development of next-generation fuel cell APU system
October 06, 2014
The Swedish Energy Agency has granted fuel cell technology company PowerCell, a spinout from the Volvo Group (earlier post), a loan of SEK 10 million (US$1.385 million) for the development of the next generation PowerPac APU (auxiliary power unit) system, which converts diesel fuel into electricity via a system comprising a catalytic reformer and fuel cells. The next-generation unit covers a larger power range up to 25 kW and maintains the same tolerance towards CO and reformate gas as the present platform.
The PowerCell system comprises three modules: the fuel reformer; the fuel cell stack; and the power electronics. PowerCell selected an Auto Thermal Reactor (ATR) technology to evaporate (not combust) the diesel and extract hydrogen-rich gas with gas purity well within the limits of what a low temperature PEM fuel cell can support in terms of CO.
Linde close to completing its first retail H2 fueling station in the US; next-generation ionic compressor
|Design of the IC 90 ionic compressor. (US+EU Version) Source: Linde. Click to enlarge.|
Linde LLC is close to completing the first retail hydrogen fueling station the company will operate in the US. The station, which Linde expects to be online before the end of the year, is being installed at the Ramos Oil Company multi-fuel station in West Sacramento, California, where Ramos currently retails gasoline, diesel, bio-diesel, ethanol-85, methanol, and racing fuels.
At the heart of the hydrogen fueling system is the 900-bar Linde IC 90 ionic compressor: the next generation of hydrogen compression technology which enables higher throughput and enhanced back-to-back fueling. (The 900 bar pressure enables drivers to refuel quickly at 700 bar.) Linde currently has the IC 50 ionic compressor installed at California’s AC Transit bus refueling station.
Hyundai showcasing new downsized turbo engines and 7-speed dual-clutch transmission; i40 48V Hybrid, i30 CNG
October 02, 2014
|New engines and transmission. Click to enlarge.|
Hyundai Motor is showcasing two new turbocharged gasoline direct injected (T-GDI) engines at the Paris Motor Show 2014. Both engines—1.0-liter and 1.4-liter units which are part of a new generation of engines from the Kappa family—meet growing demand for small capacity, turbocharged engines to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emission without compromising performance.
In addition, Hyundai is premiering at the Paris show its first 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, fitted into the i30 CNG natural gas concept car, which contributes to improved fuel efficiency. Hyundai is also displaying the diesel i40 48V hybrid concept, featuring a lead-carbon battery.
EPFL team develops low-cost water splitting cell with solar-to-hydrogen efficiency of 12.3%
September 26, 2014
A team led by Dr. Michael Grätzel at EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne) in Switzerland has developed a highly efficient and low-cost water-splitting cell combining an advanced perovskite tandem solar cell and a bi-functional Earth-abundant catalyst.
The combination of the two delivers a water-splitting photocurrent density of around 10 milliamperes per square centimeter, corresponding to a solar-to-hydrogen efficiency of 12.3%. (Currently, perovskite instability limits the cell lifetime.) Their paper is published in the journal Science. In a companion Perspective in the journal, Dr. Thomas Hamann of Michigan State University, who was not involved with the study, called Grätzel’s team’s work “an important step towards achieving [the] goal” of quickly developing alternative sources of energy that can replace fossil fuels.
U Glasgow chemists develop new electrolyzer architecture for H2 production 30X faster than current electrolyzers at equivalent platinum loading
September 15, 2014
Chemists from the University of Glasgow (Scotland) have developed a new method for hydrogen production that is 30 times faster than current state-of-the-art proton exchange membrane electrolyzers at equivalent platinum loading. The process also solves common problems associated with generating electricity from renewable sources such as solar, wind or wave energy. A paper on their method is published in the journal Science.
The method uses a recyclable redox mediator (silicotungstic acid) that enables the coupling of low-pressure production of oxygen via water oxidation to a separate, catalytic hydrogen production step outside an electrolyzer that requires no post-electrolysis energy input. This approach sidesteps the production of high-pressure gases inside the electrolytic cell (a major cause of membrane degradation) and essentially eliminates the hazardous issue of product gas crossover at the low current densities that characterize renewables-driven water-splitting devices.
California Energy Commission to award $13M to further ZEVs and advanced vehicle technology manufacturing in the state
September 10, 2014
The California Energy Commission has issued two solicitations for a combined $13.3 million to further advanced ZEV and advanced vehicle technologies in the state. The first, Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Readiness (PON-14-603), will award about $3.3 million to support planning efforts for plug-in and fuel cell vehicles.
The second, Advanced Vehicle Technology Manufacturing (PON-14-604), will award about $10 million to support the development of either full advanced vehicles or advanced vehicle components in the state.
California ARB considering modifications to ZEV regs to provide more flexibility for intermediate volume manufacturers
September 03, 2014
The California Air Resources Board (ARB) will conduct a public hearing on 23 October to consider amendments to the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) regulation that would modify the requirements for intermediate volume manufacturers (IVMs) selling into the state to allow them more time to come into the advanced technology vehicle market.
The modifications to the ZEV rule, developed by the ARB staff to be presented to the Board at the meeting, provide additional compliance flexibility to the IVMs by providing additional production lead time; a reduced compliance obligation; an opportunity to pool compliance obligations in ZEV states; and additional time to make up ZEV credit deficits.
U. Mich study: natural-gas-based ICE, BEV and FCV all show promise for environmental benefits relative to conventional ICE
August 19, 2014
Results of a lifecycle analysis by a team at the University of Michigan suggest that multiple types of natural gas-powered vehicles—i.e., natural-gas burning ICE vehicles; battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) recharged with gas-generated electricity; and fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) using hydrogen produced from natural gas—all show promise for reducing environmental impacts, energy demand and climate change impacts relative to conventional petroleum-fueled internal combustion engined vehicles for personal mobility.
Qiang Dai and Christian Lastoskie found that BEVs and FCVs in particular offer significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, especially if carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies are implemented at the fuel conversion facilities. Their study appears in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels.
UC Davis researchers suggest we may be at the beginning of a real hydrogen transition in transportation
August 15, 2014
Researchers at the Institute of Transportation Studies University of California, Davis suggest that a number of positive trends indicate that we may be seeing the beginning of a real hydrogen transition in transportation, despite earlier starts that fizzled.
This is far from certain, they acknowledge in a new NextSTEPS whitepaper, as hydrogen faces a range of challenges, from economic to societal, before it can be implemented as a large-scale transportation fuel. Fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) are technically ready; what is still to be determined is the required confidence in hydrogen’s future for investors, fuel suppliers, automakers and consumers, they suggest. However, they note, “the trends are encouraging and the hydrogen enterprise has never been more serious and focused. The next three to four years will be critical for determining whether hydrogen vehicles are just a few years behind electric vehicles, rather than decades.”
Toyota’s Carter: we’re on the cusp of the automotive hydrogen age
August 13, 2014
In his talk at the 2014 J.P. Morgan Auto Conference in New York, Bob Carter, Toyota Motor Sales (USA) Senior Vice President, Automotive Operations said that the company in spending an average of more than $1 million an hour this year on R&D. Carter said that a prime example of the R&D focus is the hydrogen fuel cell sedan to be launched to the public in California next summer (earlier post) and, he suggested, thereafter to the East Coast.
Toyota’s basic stance on hydrogen is that fuel cell vehicles, in addition to offering high total energy (well-to-wheel) efficiency, are extremely versatile, with a long cruising range and a short fueling time. Carter noted that Toyota has reduced the cost of the fuel cell powertrain by 95% , and is confident it can reduce the cost further.
Navigant forecasts global road transportation energy consumption to increase 25% by 2035; 84% from conventional fuels
July 28, 2014
In a new report (Transportation Forecast: Global Fuel Consumption), Navigant Research forecasts total road transportation energy consumption will grow from 81.1 quadrillion Btu in 2014 to 101.7 quadrillion Btu in 2035—an increase of 25.4%. Approximately 84% of that will be provided by conventional fuels. The United States is currently the largest consumer of energy in the road transportation sector, with nearly 23.1 quadrillion Btu projected to be consumed in 2014.
Navigant also projects that investments in alternative fuel and fuel efficiency improvements will reduce annual energy consumption in the United States year-over-year. Most developed countries in Western Europe and parts of Asia Pacific will also exhibit similar decreases in energy consumption. In contrast, energy consumption will grow in developing regions, particularly in Eastern Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East & Africa. Brazil, Russia, India, and China (the BRIC nations) will represent the largest increases, as the percentage of global road transportation energy consumed by these nations is forecast to grow from 20% in 2014 to 36% in 2035.
California Energy Commission approves $46.6M for hydrogen refueling and $2.8M for EV charging projects
July 24, 2014
The California Energy Commission gave final approval for nearly $50 million in grant awards for hydrogen refueling and electric charging construction projects recommended for funding in notices of proposed awards published in April and May.
California’s zero-emission vehicle goal is to get 1.5 million hydrogen, battery electric, and plug-in electric vehicles on the roadway by 2025. In response to this directive, the Energy Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP) has already allocated nearly $400 million to help bolster statewide infrastructure and create a viable market for zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), and to promote alternative fuels.
SwRI receives $1.8M DOE award to develop linear motor reciprocating compressor for hydrogen
July 23, 2014
|Compression is a major contributor to the cost of hydrogen fueling. Source: Elgowainy et al. Click to enlarge.|
Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) will begin work in August on a $1.8-million contract awarded by the US Department of Energy DOE to develop, to fabricate and to test a linear motor reciprocating compressor (LMRC). The contract is one of 10 awarded by DOE for projects that will advance hydrogen production and delivery technologies for this fuel source. (Earlier post.)
In its 2012 Multi-Year Research, Development and Demonstration Plan, DOE notes that hydrogen fueling station compressor flow rates may be 5 - 100 kg/hr and require compression pressures as high as 90 MPa (900 bar). (Consumer vehicles will likely require gaseous hydrogen compressed to 70 MPa to meet acceptable range targets.) At present, hydrogen delivery (which includes compression) and storage is an expensive operation. Capital costs are high, and the equipment used is often inefficient and unreliable, leading to costly routine maintenance, repairs and downtime.
NIST develops prototype meter test for hydrogen refueling stations
July 22, 2014
|The TFF. Click to enlarge.|
To support the fair sale of gaseous hydrogen as a vehicle fuel, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a prototype Transient Flow Facility (TFF) to test the accuracy of hydrogen fuel dispensers. The TFF generates transient flow, pressure, and temperature conditions similar to those that occur when a hydrogen-powered vehicle is refueled.
In a paper published in the journal Flow Measurement and Instrumentation, the NIST team reports using the TFF to assess the performance of two Coriolis meters (used to measure mass flow). However, they noted, the TFF can test other meter types and protocols, making it ideal for testing prototype field calibration standards for gaseous fuel dispensers.