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DOE seeking stakeholder feedback on commercial readiness of fuel cell and hydrogen technologies for transportation applications

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a request for information (RFI) (DE-FOA-0000655) seeking feedback from stakeholders for technology deployment activities aimed at verifying the commercial readiness of fuel cell and hydrogen technologies.

DOE emphasized that the RFI is not a funding opportunity announcement (FOA), although it may issue a related FOA in the future. Final details, including the anticipated award size, quantity, and timing of DOE-funded awards, will be subject to Congressional appropriations and direction. Areas of interest in the RFI include: Innovative, Commercially Ready Fuel Cell Systems for Specific Applications; and Technology Deployment Projects for Other On- or Off-Road Transportation Markets.

Area of Interest 1—Innovative, Commercially Ready Fuel Cell Systems for Specific Applications—comprises two subtopics:

  • Subtopic 1A: Auxiliary Power Units (APUs) for Refrigerated Trucks Transport refrigeration could be the next key commercial application of fuel cell technology, the DOE notes. Fuel-cell powered lift trucks are being deployed and the hydrogen refueling infrastructure is beginning to be available at distribution centers. This creates an opportunity within the distribution centers to deploy other fuel cell technologies such as APUs for refrigerated trucks.

    At food distribution centers with fuel cell lift trucks, operating their refrigerated trucks with fuel cell APUs, replacing diesel powered refrigeration, is made possible with the on-site refueling infrastructure. The anticipated power rating for APUs could range from 1-25 kW, but feedback is requested on other sizes as well. Multiple fuel cell technologies (e.g., direct methanol, proton electrolyte, solid oxide) could be deployed to evaluate any technical, economic or commercialization challenges that need to be addressed to realize successful market penetration.

  • Subtopic 1B: Fuel Cell Recharging Systems for All-Electric Light- or Heavy-Duty Trucks. All-electric road vehicles, both heavy- and light-duty, offer an alternative to petroleum fuels and their associated emissions. Challenges to accelerated, widespread commercialization of all-electric road vehicles in the US include battery range and recharging infrastructure limitations. A potential near-term approach to alleviating these limitations might be the use of an on-board fuel cell recharger (e.g., all electric freight trucks at sea or air ports), the DOE suggests.

    A relatively small quantity of fuel (i.e., hydrogen or methanol) would be needed to maintain an appropriate state-of-charge on the all-electric vehicle’s battery power system. The anticipated power rating for this application would be from 1-40 kW, but feedback is requested for other sizes as well. Multiple fuel cell technologies (e.g., direct methanol, proton electrolyte, solid oxide) could be deployed to evaluate any technical, economic or commercialization challenges that need to be addressed to realize successful market penetration.

Area of Interest 2—Technology Deployment Projects for Other On- or Off-Road Transportation Markets—has no specific subareas. However, DOE notes, other markets for fuel cell power in the transportation sector may be emerging. DOE is requesting feedback on the need for technology deployment activities in other transportation markets.

Responses are due by 2 March 2012.



Even though they have deemphasized fuel cells in favor of more immediate deployment, they can still be used now for various applications. It is good to survey where the industry is.

China invests $30 billion in solar each year, that is central government money. We can not hope to have our place in the world when others are moving ahead at a rapid team pace and we are discussing "free market" philosophies for the last 30+ years.


It was fairly widely believed that Bush the younger's administration push the fuel cell vehicles because that technology was further down the road than electric vehicles, and thus was less of a threat to replace fossil fuels. What is it that needs to be done to make fuel cells viable? Isn't it that hydrogen is expensive and very difficult to store and transport? Perhaps the DOE can schedule some inventions to fix that. I am sure the superior management at DOE will be the key to making those inventions happen. The scientists, with genius ideas, typically just fall out of the sky from every direction, however, they're undiciplined and have no idea of the commercial importants of their thoughts. You know those crazy scientists. It takes these great managers with their knowledge of real world to really make it happen. And as always money will go to business and credit will go to the managers. Thank god these guys are here to take care of those crazy scientists.


I don't see any mention of scheduling innovations here. I don't think that they schedule any in China either, but they do provide the funding so that their country can stay at the top of world competitiveness. They do not wait for the private sector to decide that it is a good enough investment.


This is an area of research that was inherited from the previous administration and put on auto-pilot. It seems the Oil and Gas industry wanted to strip hydrogen off oil or gas products, and call it green. Hydrogen has its problems when used as an energy carrier, but since the Oil and Gas industries are pushing it, research dollar is still being directed there.


Right on, Brotherkenney4. Steven Chu listed 4 miracles: production, storage, transport and the cost of fuel cells.

The only thing that I would add is that the current and cheapest way by far to produce hydrogen in quantity is using natural gas; therefore, even if the other 3 less daunting miracles occur, the fossil fuel industry would still be in business.


@ TexasDesert

One could classify much of the excess expenditure on hydrogen-powered fuel cells as a subsidy for fossil fuels. This expenditure is also cutting into the expenditures on much more promising energy options that avoid the use of fossil fuels.

Nick Lyons

Where is the funding for molten salt reactors, powered by abundant throium? Oh, yeah; the Nixon administration threw that technology in the dumper back in the '70s. Now China is making pilgrimages to Oak Ridge N. L. to suck up the technical know-how we developed and threw away.

There is no energy shortage; there is mostly an imagination shortage.


We keep debating the private/public ideas while Japan, Korea and China team up and eat our lunch. It is time we wise up that it is not public OR private, it is public AND private.


I see alot of ignorance here.

1 The cost of h2. They already know they can produce transport and sell retail h2 for cheap enough to beat out gas and deisel on a per mile basis. That is one of the first things they checked.

2 Transport. Bush spent alot of money on pipeline and other trasport issues for h2.. this WASNT just for car use this is for the entire h2 industry.

3 storage. They can store enough h2 to run a suv 531 miles... they have made these tanks alot cheaper and easier to make.. problem solved.. tho yes they are working on even better tanks.

4 fuel cells... the level of change in fuel cell tech over the last 5 years is massive. They now have the designs they needed to go mainstream with fuel cells and it simply is just a matter of time before they start to realy flood various markets.


@ wintermane2000

So, you contend that the 4 miracles have been happened? I think that I'll wait for the details in the responses to the RFI.

Just one point. If the production of hydrogen is to be from natural gas without carbon sequestering, then why not just advocate the Picken's Plan, which obviates the need for all 4 of Chu's miracles.


Natural gas is a temporary resource. But by the time its in short supply we will other options for h2 supply.

Also fuel cells mainly are about replacing engines with something better. For all the places a battery is good enough a battery will likely be... but that isnt everywhere.


I do not see any rational behind of H2 development.


H2 served its purpose to pacify electric transportation fanatics when gasoline was $1 a gallon.. meanwhile batteries have progressed so much that they can now do that job :)

If we truly have so much NG, then its time to use it for transportation.. starting with large trucks.



You mention ignorance, perhaps you can show some evidence to all the points you list as having already been accomplished. You have a bad habit of saying things with NO evidence what so ever.

Roger Pham

H2 for transportation will be needed for larger vehicles when we will move to all-renewable-energy economy.
There is already way too much CO2 in the atmosphere to continue to burn fossil fuels.

Soon, solar PV electricity will be competitive with coal-fired electricity, and so will be wind electricity. However, the intermittency of these renewable sources means that low-cost bulk energy storage means must be available, and that will be H2. Low-cost water electrolyzers have been developed. Light-weight carbon-fiber H2 tanks have been developed. H2-FC's that are very compact, durable and cost-effective are powering test FCV's by most major auto manufacturers.

The move toward H2 economy will happen. How soon that will happen will depend on how strong our will to fight global warming. The development of renewable energy and H2 economy can and will be a great job-creation engine that will save the environment at the same time. Are we ready to save our environment and create tens of millions of jobs at the same time?


RP...assuming that FCs and H2 tanks cost could be reduced 10 times or more (i.e to about $20K or less) to make FC vehicles more affordable, where would the most competitive units would be built? Would we import many (10?) million FCs & Tanks a year instead of (365 x 12,000,0000 = 4380 million barrels or so of crude oil a year?).

Cost wise, 10,000,000 FCs & tanks @ $20k = $200B may be cheaper than $4380 M/barrels @ $100 = $438B/year for oil. That would make it a good choice even if 100% where imported and no net local jobs where created.


Harvey one of the reasons they continue to work on fuel cells for cars is they expect the fuel cell stack and h2 tank will wind up costing less then a gasoline engine and various systems needed to weet 2025 epa reqs.

In short they expect fairly soon asfter launch.. 10 years or so to have CHEAPER product with CHEAPER fuel...

In short a better car.


"You mention ignorance, perhaps you can show some evidence to all the points you list as having already been accomplished."

Feel free to peruse this DoE Report. It gives a lot of info that backs up the progress that has been made regarding fuel cells.


Progress perhaps, but this guy states points as if they are fact, SHOW that they are fact or be QUIET.

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