[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.]
Researchers demonstrate use of 3D printing to produce and operate light-weight, low-cost electrolyzers
July 05, 2014
A team at the University of Glasgow has demonstrated the production and operation of a PEM electrolyzer constructed from silver-coated 3D-printed components fabricated from polypropylene. The use of 3D printing allows construction of light-weight, low-cost electrolyzers and the rapid prototyping of flow field design.
In a paper accepted by the RSC journal Energy & Environmental Science, the researchers report data showing that performance is excellent for a first-generation device in terms of overall efficiency, internal resistances and current-voltage response. This development opens the door to the fabrication of light-weight and inexpensive electrolyzers as well as related electrochemical devices such as flow batteries and fuel cells, they suggested.
USC team finds Li-Al nanoparticles produce hydrogen from water with high rate and yield; potential for industrial scaling
June 27, 2014
Aluminum and water react exothermically to form aluminum hydroxide and hydrogen; this basic property has lured numerous researchers interested in generating hydrogen from the aluminum-water reaction for modern transportation systems for at least 35 years. (Earlier post.) However, among the barriers to the practical application of this reaction are the low reaction rate and poor yield.
Now, results of large quantum molecular dynamics (QMD) simulations by a team at the University of Southern California suggest that alloying aluminum particles with lithium to produce hydrogen from water can produce orders-of-magnitude faster reactions with higher yields. Their paper is published in the ACS journal Nano Letters.
DOE awards $20M to 10 hydrogen production and delivery technologies projects
June 17, 2014
The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award $20 million to ten new research and development projects that will advance hydrogen production and delivery technologies: six on hydrogen production and four on hydrogen delivery.
The six hydrogen production R&D projects selected aim to produce, deliver, and dispense hydrogen at less than $4 per gallon gasoline equivalent:
DOE to award up to $4.6M for innovations in fuel cell and hydrogen fuel technologies
June 06, 2014
The US Department of Energy (DOE) Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) issued a funding opportunity announcement for up to $4.6 million for 12–24 month projects with industry and academia (DE-FOA-0000966) in support of innovations in fuel cell and hydrogen fuel technologies. (Earlier post.)
The FCTO Incubator Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is intended to identify potentially impactful technologies that are not already addressed in FCTO’s strategic plan or project portfolio. The FOA is open to any and all impactful ideas which will significantly advance the mission of the FCTO and that are relevant to its Multi-Year Program Plan (MYPP); however, specific areas of interest include:
New mesoporous crystalline Si exhibits increased rate of H2 production; potential use in Li-ion batteries also
April 11, 2014
|Schematic of mesoporous silicon Image: Donghai Wang/Penn State. Click to enlarge.|
Researchers at Penn State have devised a new process for the bottom-up synthesis of mesoporous crystalline silicon materials with high surface area and tunable primary particle/pore size via a self-templating pore formation process.
The nanosized crystalline primary particles and high surface areas enable an increased rate of photocatalytic hydrogen production from water and extended working life. These advantages also make the mesoporous silicon a potential candidate for other applications, such as optoelectronics, drug delivery systems and even lithium-ion batteries. A paper on their work is published in Nature Communications.
US Navy demos recovery of CO2 and production of H2 from seawater, with conversion to liquid fuel; “Fuel from Seawater”
April 08, 2014
Researchers at the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), Materials Science and Technology Division have demonstrated novel NRL technologies developed for the recovery of CO2 and hydrogen from seawater and their subsequent conversion to liquid fuels. Flying a radio-controlled replica of the historic WWII P-51 Mustang red-tail aircraft (of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen), NRL researchers Dr. Jeffrey Baldwin, Dr. Dennis Hardy, Dr. Heather Willauer, and Dr. David Drab used a novel liquid hydrocarbon fuel to power the aircraft’s unmodified two-stroke internal combustion engine.
The test provides a proof-of-concept for an NRL-developed process to extract CO2 and produce hydrogen gas from seawater, subsequently catalytically converting the CO2 and H2 into fuel by a gas-to-liquids process. The potential longer term payoff for the Navy is the ability to produce fuel at or near the point of use when it is needed, thereby reducing the logistics tail on fuel delivery, enhancing combat capabilities, and providing greater energy security by fixing fuel cost and its availability.
Aberdeen takes delivery of first 4 of 10 hydrogen buses
March 24, 2014
The Aberdeen (Scotland) city council has taken delivery of four of the 10 hydrogen buses ordered from Belgian firm Van Hool and to be operated by FirstGroup and Stagecoach as part of the Aberdeen Hydrogen Bus Project. The others are due to be delivered in the coming weeks; in total, the 10 will represent the largest single operating hydrogen bus fleet. Ballard Power Systems is developing the hydrogen fuel cells for the buses.
The £19-million (US$31 million) Aberdeen City Council-led bus project, which has backing from Europe, the UK Government and the Scottish Government, as well as a broad range of private sector partners, is testing the economic and environmental benefits of hydrogen transport technologies and aims to drive the development of hydrogen technologies.
JCAP hybrid photocathode material shows promising performance in conversion of solar energy to hydrogen
March 09, 2014
A new study by Berkeley Lab researchers at the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP) shows that nearly 90% of the electrons generated by a new hybrid photocathode material designed to store solar energy in hydrogen are being stored in the target hydrogen molecules (Faradaic efficiency).
Gary Moore, a chemist and principal investigator with Berkeley Lab’s Physical Biosciences Division, led an efficiency analysis study of the material he and his research group have developed for catalyzing the production of hydrogen fuel from sunlight. (Earlier post.) This material, a p-type (100) gallium phosphide (GaP) semiconductor functionalized with molecular hydrogen-producing cobaloxime catalysts via polymer grafting, has the potential to address one of the major challenges in the use of artificial photosynthesis to make renewable solar fuels.
DOE to issue funding opportunity for hydrogen and fuel cell Incubator projects
March 07, 2014
The US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) intends to issue, on behalf of its Fuel Cell Technologies Office, a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) entitled “Innovations in Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Fuels Technologies” (DE-FOA-0001094) for the FCTO Incubator program.
EERE has established multi‐year plans and roadmaps, with a concomitant focus of the majority of its resources on a limited number of “highest probability of success” pathways/approaches to ensure that the program initiatives are supported at a critical mass (both in terms of dollars and time) for maximum impact. While this roadmap‐based approach can be a strength, it can also create challenges in recognizing and exploring unanticipated, game changing pathways/approaches which may ultimately be superior to the pathways/approaches on the existing roadmaps.
Iogen proposes new method to increase renewable content of transportation fuels; renewable hydrogen from biogas for refinery hydrogenation units
January 23, 2014
Cellulosic biofuel and biochemical company Iogen Corporation has developed and filed for patents on a new method to increase the renewable energy content of liquid transportation fuels. The production method involves processing biogas to deliver renewable hydrogen and then incorporating the renewable hydrogen into conventional liquid fuels via selected refinery hydrogenation units.
The company estimates there is refining capacity in place to incorporate 5-6 billion gallons per year of renewable hydrogen content into gasoline and diesel fuel. Iogen says it will initially commercialize the approach using landfill biogas, and then expand production using biogas made in the cellulosic ethanol facilities it is currently developing.
University of Houston team demonstrates new efficient solar water-splitting catalyst for hydrogen production
December 16, 2013
Researchers from the University of Houston (UH) have developed a cobalt(II) oxide (CoO) nanocrystalline catalyst that can carry out overall water splitting with a solar-to-hydrogen efficiency of around 5%. They report on their work in a paper in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.
Corresponding author Jiming Bao, an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UH, said photocatalytic water-splitting experiments have been tried since the 1970s, but this was the first to use cobalt oxide and the first to use neutral water under visible light at a high energy conversion efficiency without co-catalysts or sacrificial chemicals.
DOE issues Request for Information on financing strategies for light-duty H2 fueling infrastructure
December 13, 2013
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a Request for Information (RFI) (DE-FOA-0001055) for light-duty fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) fueling infrastructure financing strategies within the context of an early market introduction.
The purpose of this RFI is to solicit feedback from the financial/investment/business community and light-duty vehicle (LDV) hydrogen transportation stakeholders. This input will augment financing strategies that DOE analyzes for public deployment of infrastructure for supporting FCEV introduction in US markets. Such financing strategies should maximize financing, for example, with debt and equity, while minimizing public incentives.
California Energy Commission to award up to $29.9M to hydrogen refueling infrastructure projects
November 24, 2013
The California Energy Commission (CEC) will award up to $29.9 million to projects to develop hydrogen refueling infrastructure in California (PON-13-607).
The solicitation has two goals: 1) to develop infrastructure necessary to dispense hydrogen transportation fuel; and 2) to provide needed Operation and Maintenance (O&M) funding to support hydrogen refueling operations prior to the large—scale roll—out of Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCVs). CEC will provide funding to construct, to upgrade, or to support hydrogen refueling stations that expand the network of publicly accessible hydrogen refueling stations to serve the current population of FCVs and accommodate the planned large—scale roll—out of FCVs beginning in 2015.
NSF/DOE partnership to award up to $18M for H2 production via advanced solar water-splitting technologies; separate DOE solicitation
November 14, 2013
A National Science Foundation and US Department of Energy (DOE) partnership on hydrogen production via solar water-splitting will award (NSF 14-511) up to $18 million to support the discovery and development of advanced materials systems and chemical processes for direct photochemical and/or thermochemical water splitting for application in the solar production of hydrogen fuel.
NSF and DOE are jointly funding this program solicitation issued by the NSF Chemical, Bioengineeering, Environmental and Transport Systems (CBET) Division; NSF expects to make 3 to 5 awards, each of up to 3-years duration. The DOE Fuel Cell Technologies Office also issued a separate solicitation for work a broader range of hydrogen production technologies. (DE-FOA-0000826)
JCAP researchers propose protocol for standardized evaluation of OER catalysts for solar-fuel systems
November 03, 2013
|Protocol for measuring the electrochemically active surface area, catalytic activity, stability, and Faradaic efficiency of heterogeneous electrocatalysts for OER. Credit: ACS, McCrory et al. Click to enlarge.|
Electro-catalytic water splitting to produce hydrogen and oxygen is a key element of solar-fuels devices; identifying efficient catalysts for the oxygen evolution reaction (OER) is critical to their realization. (The OER is efficiency-limiting for direct solar and electrolytic water splitting, rechargeable metal-air batteries, and regenerative fuel cells. Earlier post.) However, notes a team of researchers from the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis at Caltech, current methods employed to evaluate oxygen-evolving catalysts are not standardized, making it difficult to compare the activity and stability of these materials.
To address this issue, the researchers are proposing a protocol to evaluate the activity, stability, and Faradaic efficiency of electro-deposited oxygen-evolving electrocatalysts. In particular, they focus on methods for determining electrochemically active surface area and measuring electrocatalytic activity and stability under conditions relevant to an integrated solar water-splitting device. A paper on their work is published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
Duke team develops new core-shell copper nanowire catalyst for efficient water oxidation for solar fuels
October 25, 2013
|A transparent film of copper nanowires was transformed into an electrocatalyst for water oxidation by electrodeposition of Ni or Co onto the surface of the nanowires. Chen et al. Click to enlarge.|
A team led by Benjamin J. Wiley at Duke University has introduced a new electrocatalyst for water oxidation consisting of a conductive network of core-shell nanowires that is just as efficient as conventional metal oxide films on indium tin oxide (ITO) and a great deal more transparent and robust. A paper on their work is published in the journal Angewandte Chemie.
Water oxidation (2H2O → O2 + 4e- + 4H+) is a key step for converting solar energy into chemical fuels. Nickel and cobalt oxides are attractive anode materials for the oxidation of water because they are readily available and demonstrate high catalytic activity. For use in photoelectric synthesis cells, in which chemical conversions are driven by light, the oxides are typically electrodeposited onto ITO substrates. ITO is used because of its high transmittance and low sheet resistance.
Researchers develop viable catalysts for reforming of heavy gas oil to hydrogen
October 14, 2013
One approach to delivering hydrogen for the stacks in fuel cell vehicles is via the on-board reforming of hydrocarbon fuels; such an approach obviates the need for on-board hydrogen gas storage technology and leverages the existing liquid fuels infrastructure. However, using more refined low-sulfur hydrocarbon fuels can add to the overall cost of the system. Less refined fuels—such as heavy gas oil—would be less expensive; however, the higher levels of sulfur in the fuels could prove problematic for catalysts.
Now, researchers in S. Korean and Japan have synthesized hollow fiber catalysts networked with perovskite nanoparticles for the production of hydrogen from heavy gas oil reforming, some of which showed high efficiency for H2 production with substantial durability under high concentrations of S, N, and aromatic compounds. Their findings are reported in an open access paper in the journal Scientific Reports.
Western Hydrogen produces first hydrogen from Molten Salt Gasification pilot plant
September 29, 2013
|Molten Salt Gasification Process. Click to enlarge.|
Western Hydrogen Limited reported first production of hydrogen from its Molten Salt Gasification (MSG) pilot plant in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta. The MSG process, under license from Idaho National Laboratory, uses a combination of molten sodium salts (sodium carbonate and sodium hydroxide) to convert a carbon feedstock and water into hydrogen. The technology allows the production of high-pressure hydrogen without the need for compression and can use a variety of feedstocks, including renewables.
Following six years of testing at the Idaho National Laboratory, the pilot plant was constructed to demonstrate the technology’s reliability in a large-scale production facility.
Kawasaki Heavy to build first ocean-going liquid hydrogen tanker with demo in 2017; H2 for transport, industry, power in Japan
September 28, 2013
|KHI’s view of a “CO2-free hydrogen chain”. Source: KHI. Click to enlarge.|
The Nikkei reports that Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. (KHI) will build the first ocean-going ships to carry liquefied hydrogen (LH2), with plans for a demonstration test by 2017 in which liquefied hydrogen will be shipped from the state of Victoria in Australia to Japan. The project will cost ¥60 billion (US$610 million), according to the report.
As part of Japan’s WE-NET (World Energy Network) research program of the New Sunshine Project begun in 1993, Kawasaki and its other industrial colleagues in Japan have been considering the large-scale marine transportation of liquid hydrogen for some time (e.g., Abe et al., 1998). KHI has previously discussed the concept of such a hydrogen-carrying vessel as part of its Business Vision 2020.
Berkeley Lab researchers at JCAP develop unique semiconductor/catalyst construct for production of H2 from sunlight
August 30, 2013
Researchers with the US Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) working at the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP) have developed a method by which molecular cobalt-containing hydrogen production catalysts can be interfaced with a semiconductor that absorbs visible light.
Coupling the absorption of visible light with the production of hydrogen in one material enables the generation of a fuel simply by illuminating the photocathode, says Gary Moore, a chemist with Berkeley Lab’s Physical Biosciences Division and principal investigator for JCAP. “No external electrochemical forward biasing is required.” Moore is the corresponding author of a paper describing this research in the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS).
New materials for bio-based hydrogen synthesis; synthetic biology enables spontaneous protein activation
August 13, 2013
Researchers at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) (Germany), with colleagues from the MPI (Max Planck Institute) Mülheim and Université Grenoble, have discovered an efficient process for hydrogen biocatalysis. They developed semi-synthetic hydrogenases—hydrogen-generating enzymes—by adding the protein’s biological precursor to a chemically synthesized inactive iron complex.
From these two components, the biological catalyst formed spontaneously in a test tube, thus greatly simplifying the design and production of hydrogenases. The team reports on their work in a paper in the journal Nature Chemical Biology.
CU-Boulder team develops more efficient isothermal solar-thermal water splitting technique for H2 production
August 02, 2013
A University of Colorado Boulder team has developed a new solar-thermal water-splitting (STWS) system for the efficient production of hydrogen. A paper on their work is published in the journal Science.
STWS cycles have long been recognized as a desirable means of generating hydrogen gas (H2) from water and sunlight, the team notes. Two-step, metal oxide–based STWS cycles generate H2 by sequential high-temperature reduction of a metal oxide catalyst (releasing oxygen atoms) and cooler conditions in which the catalyst is reoxidized by oxygen from water (freeing up hydrogen molecules for collection as hydrogen gas). The temperature swings between reduction and oxidation steps have hobbled STWS’ overall efficiency, however, because of thermal and time losses that occur during the frequent heating and cooling of the metal oxide. The cycling can also limit catalyst lifetime.
ITM Power reports its estimated cost of producing hydrogen via electrolysis down significantly from last year
July 22, 2013
ITM Power has provided an update on the cost structure of hydrogen generated by its HFuel electrolysis platform. The new estimated cost —US$4.13/kg after capital amortization—incorporates efficiency improvements, cost reduction of its HGas platform and data provided by Hyundai for the ix35 fuel cell electric vehicle (earlier post).
ITM Power projects hydrogen cost at £4.19/kg (US$6.44/kg), a 32.7% reduction from last year’s £6.23/kg (US$9.57/kg), within a 10-year capital amortization period and £2.69/kg (US$4.13/kg), a 22.9% reduction from last year’s £3.49/kg (US$5.36/kg), after capital amortization.
EPFL/Technion team develops “champion” nanostructures for efficient solar water-splitting to produce hydrogen
July 15, 2013
|Hydrogen bubbles as they appear in a photoelectrochemical cell. © LPI / EPFL. Click to enlarge.|
Researchers from EPFL in Switzerland and Technion-Israel Institue of Technology have developed nanoparticle-based α-Fe2O3 (hematite) electrodes that achieve the highest photocurrent of any metal oxide photoanode for photoelectrochemical water-splitting under 100 mW cm−2 air mass, 1.5 global sunlight. A paper on their work is published in the journal Nature Materials.
With current methods, in which a conventional photovoltaic cell is coupled to an electrolyzer to produce hydrogen, the cost to produce hydrogen from water using the sun is around €15 per kilo at its cheapest, said research leader Dr. Michael Grätzel, Director of the Laboratory of Photonics and Interfaces (LPI) at EPFL and inventor of dye-sensitized photoelectrochemical cells. “We’re aiming at a €5 charge per kilo,” he said.
European Commission launches new $1.8-billion fuel cell and hydrogen research initiative
July 10, 2013
The European Commission is launching a second phase of the first Fuel Cells and Hydrogen (FCH) Joint Technology Initiative (JTI) set up in 2008. The new Fuel Cells & Hydrogen 2 Initiative—with a proposed combined 50:50 EU-industry budget of €1.4 billion (US$1.8 billion)—will continue to develop a portfolio of fuel cell and hydrogen technologies to the point of market introduction. The new FCH 2 JTI is expected to start in 2014 and will end in 2024.
The JTI is one of five announced as part of a new EU-industry investment of €22 billion (US$28 billion) in research and innovation. The other JTIs address innovative medicines; aeronautics; bio-based industries; and electronics.
International consortium launches government-supported study on hydrogen vehicle refueling infrastructure in France
July 06, 2013
Twenty founding partner members of the “Mobility Hydrogen France” (Mobilité Hydrogène France, MHF) consortium are combining their forces and expertise to produce an economically competitive and supported deployment plan for a private and public hydrogen refueling infrastructure in France between 2015 and 2030, including an analysis of cost-effectiveness.
Regional, national and international, private and public stakeholders were brought together by the French Association for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells (L’Association Française pour l’Hydrogène et les Piles à Combustible, AFHyPaC) and supported by the Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy (Ministère de l’Ecologie, du Développement Durable et de l’Energie), to share their knowledge and expertise in order to develop coordinated deployment scenarios for vehicles and hydrogen stations, and to emphasize the clear benefits and costs of this transition. The results will be published in late 2013.