[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]
DOE FCTO selects 11 fuel cell incubator projects for up to $10M in awards; exploring alkaline exchange membrane FCs
February 26, 2015
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.
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.
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.
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.
Review paper: Graphene and related materials (GRMs) may play major role in energy applications
January 02, 2015
The large specific surface area (SSA)—i.e., the surface-to-mass ratio—of graphene, combined with its high electrical conductivity, high mechanical strength, ease of functionalization, and potential for mass production, makes it an extremely attractive platform for energy applications, such as a transparent conductive electrode for solar cells or as flexible high-capacity electrode in lithium-ion batteries and supercapacitors, notes a team of researchers from Europe, the US and Korea, in a paper reviewing the role of graphene and related systems for energy conversion and storage published in the journal Science. The combination of chemical functionalization and curvature control also opens new opportunities for hydrogen storage.
In addition to graphene, they note, other two-dimensional crystals such as the transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) display insulating, semiconducting (with band gaps in the visible region of the spectrum), and metallic behavior and can enable novel device architectures also in combination with graphene. As with graphene, these materials can be integrated on flexible surfaces and can be mass-produced. Yet another class of 2D crystals is the MXenes (e.g., earlier post)—layered, hexagonal carbides and nitrides that can accommodate various ions and molecules between their layers by intercalation. MXene sheets are promising for energy applications, such as lithium-ion batteries, supercapacitors, and hydrogen storage.
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.
Volkswagen Group shows 3 hydrogen fuel cell concepts at LA Show: Audi A7 Sportback h-tron; Golf Sportwagen HyMotion; Passat HyMotion
November 20, 2014
|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.
DOE reports progress on development of hydrogen storage technologies
November 17, 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 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.)
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.
Anglo American Platinum invests in Hydrogenious Technologies; liquid organic hydrogen carrier technology for H2 storage
August 04, 2014
|Concept of hydrogen generation, storage and release using LOHCs. Click to enlarge.|
South Africa-based Anglo American Platinum, the world’s leading primary producer of platinum group metals (PGMs), has invested in the first close of the Series A financing round of Hydrogenious Technologies, a company developing liquid organic hydrogen carrier (LOHC) hydrogen storage technology. The round was fully funded by Anglo American.
Hydrogenious Technologies is a spin-off from the University of Erlangen- Nuremberg (Germany), which also holds a stake in the company, and the Bavarian Hydrogen Center. Instead of storing hydrogen either under high pressure of up to 700 bar or in liquid form at –253 °C, Hydrogenious’ technology catalytically binds and releases the hydrogen molecules to liquid organic hydrogen carriers (LOHCs). The proposed LOHC compounds have many physico-chemical similarities to diesel. Thus, LOHCs could make use of the existing energy infrastructure (e.g. tank ships, storage tanks or fueling stations) and enable a slow and step-wise replacement of the existing hydrocarbon fuels by alternative LOHC 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.
Sandia study finds more California gas stations could provide H2 than previously thought; NFPA 2 code
July 08, 2014
A study by researchers at Sandia National Laboratories concludes that a number of existing gas stations in California can safely store and dispense hydrogen, suggesting a broader network of hydrogen fueling stations may be within reach.
The report examined 70 commercial gasoline stations in the state to determine which, if any, could integrate hydrogen fuel, based on the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) hydrogen technologies code published in 2011. The study determined that 14 of the 70 gas stations—i.e., 20%—involved in the study could readily accept hydrogen fuel and that 17 more possibly could accept hydrogen with property expansions. Under previous NFPA code requirements from 2005, none of the existing gasoline stations could readily accept hydrogen.
Toyota to launch its fuel cell vehicle in Japan before April 2015, priced around $68,700; reveals exterior
June 25, 2014
|Toyota’s Mitsuhisa Kato briefs the media in Japan on the timing and pricing of the FCV, and outlines the company’s view of the role of fuel cell vehicles. Click to enlarge.|
Toyota Motor Corporation revealed the exterior design and Japan pricing of its hydrogen fuel cell sedan, first unveiled as a concept at the Tokyo Motor Show last year. (Earlier post.) The car will launch in Japan before April 2015, and preparations are underway for launches in the US and European markets in the summer of 2015.
In Japan, the fuel cell sedan will go on sale at Toyota and Toyopet dealerships, priced at approximately ¥7 million (US$68,700) (MSRP; excludes consumption tax). Initially, sales will be limited to regions where hydrogen refueling infrastructure is being developed: Saitama Prefecture, Chiba Prefecture, Tokyo Metropolis, Kanagawa Prefecture, Yamanashi Prefecture, Aichi Prefecture, Osaka Prefecture, Hyogo Prefecture, Yamaguchi Prefecture, and Fukuoka Prefecture.
RAL proposes new efficient and low-cost process to crack ammonia for hydrogen using sodium amide; transportation applications
June 23, 2014
RAL researchers are proposing a new process for the decomposition of ammonia to release hydrogen that involves the stoichiometric decomposition and formation of sodium amide from Na metal. Credit: ACS, David et al. Click to enlarge.
Researchers at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) in the UK are proposing a new type of process that is an alternative to the use of rare or transition metal catalysts for the cracking of ammonia (NH3) to produce hydrogen. A paper on the process appears in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
The new process decomposes ammonia using the concurrent stoichiometric decomposition and regeneration of sodium amide (NaNH2) via sodium metal (Na); this is a significant departure in reaction mechanism compared with traditional surface catalysts. The scientists report that in variable-temperature NH3 decomposition experiments using a simple flow reactor, the Na/NaNH2 system shows superior performance to supported nickel and ruthenium catalysts, reaching up to a 99.2% decomposition efficiency with 0.5 g of NaNH2 in a 60 sccm NH3 flow at 530 °C. As an abundant and inexpensive material, the development of NaNH2-based NH3 cracking systems may promote the utilization of NH3 for sustainable energy storage purposes, they suggest.
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:
US DOE awarding $7M to 6 projects for advanced hydrogen storage systems for vehicles
May 20, 2014
The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award a total of $7 million to six projects to develop lightweight, compact, and inexpensive advanced hydrogen storage systems that will enable longer driving ranges and help make fuel cell systems competitive for different platforms and sizes of vehicles.
Materia of Pasadena, California will receive $2 million to reduce the cost of compressed hydrogen storage systems. The project will demonstrate a novel resin system that reduces the use of expensive carbon fiber composites for high pressure storage tanks.
Sandia Labs and HHC partner to design metal hydride hydrogen storage system for forklifts
April 15, 2014
|Adrian Narvaez of Hawaii Hydrogen Carriers (HHC) observes a metal hydride storage tank, part of a project led by Sandia National Laboratories. (Photo by Dino Vournas) Click to enlarge.|
Sandia National Laboratories and Hawaii Hydrogen Carriers (HHC) are partnering to design a solid-state metal-hydride hydrogen storage system for forklifts; the storage system can refuel at low pressure four to five times faster than it takes to charge a battery-powered forklift. The tank will be combined with a fuel cell system to create a fuel cell power pack.
Current hydrogen storage units require high pressure (5,000 pounds per square inch, or psi) to achieve a short refueling time, and high pressure refueling requires an on-site compression system. A low-pressure on-board storage system could reduce fuel system cost and expand the market to facilities that can’t accommodate conventional high-pressure fueling systems.
Hydrogenation-assisted graphene origami nanocages exhibit leading hydrogen storage densities
March 17, 2014
Researchers from the University of Maryland have used molecular dynamics simulation to demonstrate graphene nano-cages which will open and close in response to an electric charge using a technique they call hydrogenation-assisted graphene origami (HAGO). The cages can stably store hydrogen molecules at a density of 9.7 wt % hydrogen—significantly above the US Department of Energy (DOE) target of 5.5 wt % by 2017 and 7.5 wt % by 2020.
The team has also demonstrated the potential to reach an even higher density and doing so is a future research goal. A paper on their work is published in the journal ACS Nano.
DOE to issue funding opportunity for hydrogen and fuel cell Incubator projects
March 07, 2014
The US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) intends to issue, on behalf of its Fuel Cell Technologies Office, a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) entitled “Innovations in Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Fuels Technologies” (DE-FOA-0001094) for the FCTO Incubator program.
EERE has established multi‐year plans and roadmaps, with a concomitant focus of the majority of its resources on a limited number of “highest probability of success” pathways/approaches to ensure that the program initiatives are supported at a critical mass (both in terms of dollars and time) for maximum impact. While this roadmap‐based approach can be a strength, it can also create challenges in recognizing and exploring unanticipated, game changing pathways/approaches which may ultimately be superior to the pathways/approaches on the existing roadmaps.
Honda R&D installs hydrogen refueling station for field validation of new MC Fill dynamic fast-fill protocol
March 04, 2014
|MC Method control diagram, from a 2013 DOE-hosted webinar on hydrogen refueling. MC Fill allows dynamic control of refueling based on gas temperature. Click to enlarge.|
Preparing for the 2015 introduction of the next Honda fuel cell-electric vehicle (FCEV), Honda R&D Americas has installed an advanced hydrogen refueling station on its Torrance, California campus to serve as a platform for demonstrating and validating its MC Fill hydrogen fueling protocol. Honda, which is also participating in the SAE J2601 work on a standardized light-duty vehicle hydrogen fueling protocol, will make the new research station available to other automakers to further validate the MC Fill protocol’s performance and functionality.
As with the J2601 protocol, which is due to be published soon (likely in April), the MC Fill fast-fill protocol is designed for fuel systems that store hydrogen at a pressure of up to 700 bar (70MPa or 10,000 psi). The primary differentiator between the current J2601 approach and Honda’s MC Fill is that Honda offers dynamic control of the refueling rate based on the measured gas temperature rather than a lookup table to control the pressure ramp rate, said Steve Mathison, Senior Engineer at Honda R&D Americas.