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DOE Issues $6M Solicitation for On-Board Vehicular Hydrogen Storage R&D

The Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) has issued a solicitation for applied research and development projects on hydrogen storage technologies for on-board vehicular applications.

EERE is seeking applications in two categories. The first includes projects supportive of and complementary to the activities of any of the existing Hydrogen Storage Centers of Excellence in Metal Hydrides, Chemical Hydrogen Storage, and Carbon-Based Materials.

Projects in this category must help establish important new technical approaches or capabilities not presently available at the Centers. A funded project may become a Center partner.

The second is independent R&D projects that address one of three technical topics: 1) Materials Discovery; 2) Engineering Science; or 3) Systems, Safety and Environmental Analyses.

EERE is not seeking projects involving cylindrical high pressure or liquid on-board storage tanks and off-board storage, and will not review such for this solicitation.

Total funding available for the solicitation is $6 million, with a per-award cap of $2 million.

For transportation, the overarching technical challenge for hydrogen storage is how to store the amount of hydrogen required for a conventional driving range (greater than 300 miles), within the vehicular constraints of weight, volume, efficiency, safety, and cost. (Earlier post.)

The key technical challenges, according to the DOE, for all approaches of vehicular hydrogen storage include:

  • System Volume and Weight. The volume and weight of current hydrogen storage systems are too high, resulting in inadequate vehicle range.

  • System Cost. The cost of on-board hydrogen storage systems is too high, particularly in comparison with conventional storage systems for petroleum fuels.

  • Efficiency. Energy efficiency is a challenge for all hydrogen storage approaches. The energy required to get hydrogen in and out is an issue for on-board reversible materials. Life-cycle energy efficiency is a challenge for chemical hydrogen storage in which the by-product is regenerated off board the vehicle. Thermal management for charging and releasing hydrogen from the storage system needs to be optimized to increase overall efficiency for all approaches.

  • Durability and Operability. Durability of hydrogen storage systems is inadequate. Storage media, materials of construction and balance-of-plant components are needed that allow hydrogen storage systems with a lifetime of at least 1,500 cycles and with tolerance to hydrogen fuel contaminants. An additional durability issue for material-based approaches is the delivery of sufficient quality hydrogen for the vehicle power plant.

  • Charging and Discharging Rates. Hydrogen refueling times—especially for material-based systems—are too long. DOE wants to see hydrogen storage systems with refueling times of less than three minutes for a 5kg of hydrogen charge, over the lifetime of the system. Thermal management that enables quicker refueling is a critical issue that must be addressed. Also, all storage system approaches must be able to supply sufficient flow rate of hydrogen to the vehicle power plant (e.g. fuel cell or internal combustion engine) to meet the required power demand.

  • Thermal Management. In general, the main technical challenge is heat removal upon re-filling of hydrogen for on-board reversible materials within fueling time requirements. On-board reversible materials typically require heat to release hydrogen on board the vehicle. Heat must be provided to the storage media at reasonable temperatures to meet the flow rates needed by the vehicle power plant, preferably using the waste heat of the power plant. Depending upon the chemistry, chemical hydrogen approaches often are exothermic upon release of hydrogen to the power plant, or optimally thermal neutral. By virtue of the chemistry used, chemical hydrogen approaches require significant energy to regenerate the spent material and by-products prior to re-use; this done off the vehicle.

  • Codes & Standards. Applicable codes and standards for hydrogen storage systems and interface technologies have yet to be established. Standardized hardware and operating procedures, and applicable codes and standards, are required.

  • Life-Cycle and Efficiency Analyses. Systematic analyses for the full life-cycle cost, efficiency, and environmental impact for hydrogen storage systems are required.

Additional issues specific to reversible material-based hydrogen storage systems (i.e. materials that may be charged and discharged reversibly on board a vehicle) are:

  • Lack of Understanding of Hydrogen Physisorption and Chemisorption. An improved understanding of the fundamentals and optimization of adsorption/absorption and desorption kinetics are needed to optimize hydrogen uptake and release capacity rates. An understanding of chemical reactivity and material properties, particularly with respect to exposure under different conditions (air, moisture, etc.) is also lacking.

  • Reproducibility of Performance. Standard test protocols for evaluation of hydrogen storage materials are lacking. Reproducibility of performance both in synthesis of the material/media and measurement of key hydrogen storage performance metrics is an issue. Standard test protocols related to performance over time such as accelerated aging tests as well as protocols evaluating materials safety properties and reactivity over time are also lacking.

Additional issues specific to chemical hydrogen storage systems (i.e. materials that may discharge hydrogen on board but need to be regenerated off board) are:

  • Regeneration Processes. Low-cost, energy efficient regeneration processes have not been established. Full life-cycle analyses need to be performed to understand cost, efficiency and environmental impacts.

  • By-Product/Spent Material Removal. he refueling process is potentially complicated by removal of the by-product and/or spent material. System designs must be developed to address this issue and the infrastructure requirements for off-board regeneration.

DOE Targets for on-Board Hydrogen Storage Systems
(ICE and fuel cell, Range >300 miles)
Parameter Units 2007 2010 2015
System Gravimetric Capacity
(specific energy)
(kg H2/kg system)
Volumetric Capacity
(energy density)
(kg H2/L system)
Storage System Cost $/kWh net
($/kg H2)
$/gge at pump
Operating ambient temperature ºC -20/50 -30/50 -40/60
Min/max delivery temperature ºC -30/85 -40/85 -40/85
Cycle life variation % of mean (min)/ % confidence N/A 90/90 99/90
Cycle life (¼ tank to full) Cycles 500 1,000 1,500
Min delivery pressure from tank Atm (abs) Fuel cell
Max delivery pressure Atm (abs) 100 100 100
System fill time min 10 3 2.5
Minimum full flow rate (g/s)/kW 0.02 0.02 0.02
Start time to full flow (20ºC) s 15 5 5
Start time to full flow (-20ºC) (g/s)/kW 30 15 15
Start time to full flow (20ºC) s 15 5 5
Transient response (10%-90% and 90%-0% s 1.75 0.75 0.75
Fuel purity (H2 from storage) % H2 99.99 (dry basis)
Loss of useable H2 (g/h)kg H2stored 1 0.1 0.05




So many rocket science involved, they will need decades or even centuries to solve all those problems. And at the end energy market is control by technology giants, everyone still need to pay they huge hydrogen fee to live.

Of course, this is one of the vision. Another kind of vision is everyone can generate and refill hydrogen at home. Convinience, clean, efficient, and economy.


Maybe when the decade comes around for the at home hydrogen, we will maybe in the cashless pleasant society.

Robert Schwartz

Start time to full flow (20ºC) s 15 5 5

OK, what is wrong with methanol?

Rafael Seidl

Robert -

Methanol is fairly cheap to produce (from natural, biogenic or synthesis gas), is liquid and has a high octane rating of ~120.

The downsides are:
- poor energy density by volume (better than hydrogen but worse than nethanol)
- poisonous (more so than ethanol)
- requires highly resilient fuel system components (more so than ethanol)
- flame has no colour (spills are far more dangerous)

It could make sense to blend methanol into gasoline in low proportions, especially since ethanol production capacity is still limited. On problem is that current gasoline specifications sharply limit the amount of oxygen (in any compound) it may contain.


6 million is essentially non-news.

I was watching TV last night and caught this news:

"Total sales of more than $100 million was reported at the 2006 Barrett-Jackson 35th Anniversary Auction held Jan. 17-22, its swan song at WestWorld in Scottsdale." (also here)

So tell me again about 6, 15, whatever, million dollar projects.


This is PRETTY good news but... 6 million??? That's chump change. Clearly the DOE doesn't care about our environment nor economy. And obviously they are in big oil's back pocket.

Barry R. Guthrie

The oil companies will probably be the ones who will lobby to receive the $6 million award money for their alternative energy research programs for good public relationship image. They will then actually develop some good solutions that actually may help solve the problems, but then patent the ideas and sit on the new technology until their patents run out in 20 years.

God bless America!


I agree with a couple of the other posters. 6 mil is nothing in comparison to other types of grants for research. The Commerce Dept. had 100 mil available for PBS stations converting from analog to digital! Unfortunately this amounts to lip service and not much of that!

Big oil should be pouring $$ into r&d for alternative energies. As an industry their profit was more than 50 billion in 2005 alone. That was profit after all their research into locating oil reserves and r&d for squeezing oil from shale, etc. Alex (above) was probably right. They have the funds needed to do productive research and when they identify breakthoughs they will sit on them until profit margins are sky high.

Universities with their shrinking funding sources and small alternative energy companies do not have the resources to make large scale inroads into this area.

6 mil is hardly even a start. But now is the time to really push this agenda not later when we as a nation (USA) or the world is at a critical stage of energy need and energy produced.


In line with the on going research and development on On-board Vehicular Hydrogen Storage (which I may term as: Part of the steps to 21st Century Glogal Solution); Iam making research on the use of metal hydride and (or) the use of cutting-edge polymer (a carbon-base material).
Sincerely speaking, there are inadequaces in the area of research facilities that could be at one's best disposal for effectiness in this kind of research.
Please how could you help in getting me partner to good Research and Development Centre(s) so as to jointly share ideas of mine and thereafter proceed in this laudable research goal together. Kindly mail your reply via my box. Thank you.

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