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DOE soliciting ideas for H-Prize topics

The US Department of Energy (DOE) Fuel Cell Technologies Program (FCT) is soliciting (DE-FOA-0000680) ideas for H-Prize topics (earlier post) and criteria for advancements that would help to enable the widespread commercialization of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. This request for information (RFI) is not an H-Prize competition announcement; therefore, DOE is not accepting applications at this time.

Topics would be advancements in technologies, components or systems related to the three main areas of interest: hydrogen production; hydrogen distribution; and hydrogen utilization. The entries would undergo technical evaluation to validate that all criteria are met or exceeded.

  1. Hydrogen Production. Production of hydrogen, particularly from domestic, renewable sources (e.g., wind to electrolysis, biogas and biomass reforming or gasification, as well as direct solar-to-hydrogen pathways such as fermentative or photolytic biological, photoelectrochemical, and solar thermochemical) for use as an energy carrier in fuel cell applications are of interest.

    Topics in this area could, for example, include innovations leading to improvements in process efficiency, separations and catalysis, durability of materials of construction and reaction, or reductions in capital costs of hydrogen production equipment.

  2. Hydrogen Distribution. Topics in this area could include, but are not limited to, improvements in the reliability and cost of hydrogen compressors, reductions in compressed hydrogen storage vessel costs for stationary storage or transport applications, reduction of the costs of dispensing hydrogen to the on-board storage system of a fuel cell vehicle, or improvements in the efficiency of hydrogen liquefaction.

  3. Hydrogen Utilization. Topics in this area could include technical innovations and designs leading to improvements in fuel cell performance and efficiency, forecourt station infrastructure, combined heat and power (CHP) co-generation and tri-generation (combined heat, hydrogen, and power) from fuel cells, fuel cell systems for specialty vehicles and stationary, back-up, and auxiliary power systems, and use in producing or upgrading biofuels.

Specific examples could be, but are not limited to:

  • A fuel cell that is cheaper than a conventional gasoline internal combustion engine and can meet performance goals.

  • A hydrogen-powered cell phone that is the same size and cost as the latest smartphone.

  • A fueling station capable of supplying hydrogen to 1,000 cars per day on the footprint of a conventional gas station.

  • Production of hydrogen from renewables with production costs and rates that allow hydrogen to be cost-competitive with gasoline for early market application.

  • A Polymer Electrolyte Membrane fuel cell system for Auxiliary Power Units (APUs) to power the refrigeration systems on-board heavy duty trucks, with the same durability and power as the internal combustion engines currently in use.

  • A combined heat and power fuel cell system with an ex-situ steam reformer capable of producing fuel-grade hydrogen for fuel cell vehicles.

The prize will be awarded only if specified criteria are met; in the case that multiple entries meet the criteria, the winner will be determined based on its performance in criteria categories to be determined in advance. The award amount may be up to $1 million.

The H-Prize was originally established in Sec. 654 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (P.L. 110-140) and establishes multiple prize categories, including advancements in technologies, components or systems related to hydrogen production, storage, distribution and utilization; prototypes of hydrogen-powered vehicles or other hydrogen-based products; and transformational changes in technologies for the distribution of production of hydrogen.

The H-Prize is currently administered by the Hydrogen Education Foundation (HEF) for the DOE.



The great advantage of hydrogen is that it will likely remain something that big corporations can sell. With electric vehicles and renewables, you could potentially have consumers un-tethering themselves from the grid and thus would no longer be sending money to large corporations. While I might enjoy that freedom of choice, I know most people prefer to be owned by some large organization. So, it seems that hydrogen should win, so that the majority can feel secure being "held firmly on a chain of their very own".


an ICE costs the manufacturers about $500, obviously you will pay more if you go to the parts dept at the dealership.

Seems like a good goal... how about a smaller 15kW FC suitable for a range extender?.. that should please the greens.


"A combined heat and power fuel cell system with an ex-situ steam reformer capable of producing fuel-grade hydrogen for fuel cell vehicles."

This is an interesting idea, use an SOFC to turn natural gas into electricity and heat, then use the waste heat in a reformer to turn natural gas into hydrogen and use the electricity for the compressor...clever.

Henry Gibson

Right now, existing lead batteries have be demonstrated by Calcars to be suitable for operating vehicles instead of gasoline for the majority of all automobile trips. Horses were one of the first bio-fuel transportation engines.

A CANDU nuclear power plant can produce hydrogen at far less cost than gasoline right now, but it is better to use the electricity in batteries for automobiles or just use the electricity to save the use of natural gas which can be used to make methanol and gasoline. Hydrogen can be made even cheaper when hot water or steam heated by the reactor is electrolysed by the electricity instead of cold water. The same is true of every coal fired power plant except that in addition there is a much cheaper way of using the coal to produce hydrogen much more directly without electric generators. ..HG..

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