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Sandia Labs and NREL leading new DOE hydrogen infrastructure project; H2FIRST


A new project launched by the US Department of Energy (DOE) and led by Sandia National Laboratories and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) will work in support of H2USA, the public private partnership introduced in 2013 by the Energy Department and industry stakeholders to address the challenge of hydrogen infrastructure. (Earlier post.)

Established by the Energy Department’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the Sandia- and NREL-led Hydrogen Fueling Infrastructure Research and Station Technology (H2FIRST) project will draw on existing and emerging core capabilities at the national labs and aim to reduce the cost and time of new fueling station construction and improve the stations’ availability and reliability. By focusing on these aspects of the hydrogen fueling infrastructure, the effort hopes to accelerate and support the widespread deployment of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles.

H2FIRST’s technical goal is to develop and apply physical testing, numerical simulation and technology validation to help create low-cost, high-performance materials, components and station architectures. H2FIRST also will collect and distribute data supporting industry’s efforts to reduce the costs of integrated fueling systems and networks.

Specific H2FIRST objectives include:

  • Development of improved hydrogen fueling station design and requirements, including a broader technical understanding of what is needed to achieve a national hydrogen fueling infrastructure.

  • Acceleration of hydrogen fueling station deployment, including the identification of a flexible set of technical experts and facilities to respond quickly to challenges that arise as new hydrogen stations are built.

  • Reduction of hydrogen fueling system costs and improvement of system availability, safety and reliability through inventive materials and novel designs.

  • More innovative, efficient hydrogen fueling stations, making them competitive with conventional gasoline stations and more consumer-friendly.

  • Integration of renewable hydrogen and the power grid through development, optimization and validation of technologies that enable distributed generation of renewable hydrogen in a broader energy ecosystem.

As the leads for H2FIRST, Sandia and NREL will share their hydrogen expertise, including research in hydrogen-specific materials and systems engineering. Two research facilities, Sandia’s Center for Infrastructure Research and Innovation (CIRI) in California and NREL’s Energy Systems Integration Facility in Colorado, will serve as hubs for H2FIRST.

Sandia’s facilities will develop and test innovative infrastructure technologies to accelerate market readiness, drawing upon Sandia’s broader hydrogen program, which includes research on storage, delivery, production, systems analysis and safety, codes and standards.

NREL will use its performance-testing, analysis, and safety, codes and standards expertise to study renewable hydrogen generation and infrastructure systems and components. At NREL’s new Energy Systems Integration Facility, capabilities such as a hose reliability testing robot and construction of additional refueling hardware will support H2FIRST’s hydrogen infrastructure research needs.

The H2FIRST project is initially expected to identify opportunities that offer “high probability for success” for timely advancement of near-term fueling stations. The project also will work to identify and develop common laboratory capabilities that can serve many purposes for advancing hydrogen fueling technologies.

The H2FIRST project is expected eventually to include companies and organizations in the automotive, energy and industrial gas sectors, fuel cell manufacturers, station component providers, state and regional government agencies and research institutions.

Toyota will begin selling its Fuel Cell Vehicle in 2015. Last year, General Motors and Honda announced plans to jointly develop hydrogen fuel cell cars, and Hyundai will lease its Tucson Fuel Cell hydrogen-powered vehicle in California this spring.

The success of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles largely depends on more stations being available, including in neighborhoods and at work, so drivers can easily refuel. With H2FIRST, we’re definitely on the road to making that happen more quickly.

—Daniel Dedrick, hydrogen program manager at Sandia

H2FIRST partners include several agencies from the state of California.

This new project brings important federal know-how and resources to accelerate improvements in refueling infrastructure that support the commercial market launch of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. California is committed to deploying at least 100 hydrogen refueling stations in the next decade, and the H2FIRST effort is a big step toward the development and deployment of a broader, consumer-friendly infrastructure for us and the rest of the United States. We are excited to be joined by such prestigious partners in this effort.

—Air Resources Board Chairman Mary D. Nichols



As soon as they open a hydrogen station in my area , I will go see it in action. There is folks that go to airports to see airplanes even if they don't take it so I will do the same but not with airplanes but with hydrogen cars. I need a breeze of fresh air, im tire of breathing hot co2, particulate, diesel fumes, nox, soot, carbon monoxide. Im sure hydrogen is not polluting, why are we late on this. Don't buy any new ice cars till there is plenty available hydrogen cars and suvs to choose from.


If you are lucky, you might be there at the just perfect timing to see when it all explodes in flames, as a reminder of the Hindenburg accident.


No details about how the hydrogen will be created or transported. These problems have been studied with great intensity by governments and industries. The fact that Sandia needs to study it again means that practical solutions are still a fantasy.

Roger Pham

The following quote will answer your question.

"Integration of renewable hydrogen and the power grid through development, optimization and validation of technologies that enable distributed generation of renewable hydrogen in a broader energy ecosystem."

H2 will be made mostly from Renewable Energy such as solar PV and wind turbine and backed-up by grid electricity. The H2 will be made onsite to eliminate the transportation and distribution costs. Imagine the H2 storage tanks at the H2 stations as a gigantic batteries that will soak solar PV and wind turbine electricity to turn into H2. This will overcome the intermittency of solar and wind when those are used to provide grid electricity.

Practical solutions are already here today, and that's why Toyota, Huyndai, Daimler-Benz, VW, et al are investing heavily into FCV and H2 infrastructure. What Sandia is doing is simply to "integrate", "optimize", and "validate" existing technologies seamlessly into the whole picture.


On-site PV. You mean a PV array that can put out 20kwh/day (with full sunlight), which would be about 15x15 meter array? Creating hydrogen like that for a car doesn't seem very practical. Probably the PV array wouldn't be backed-up, it would be supplemented by the grid most of the time because there's not enough space or sun to put the array.

Roger Pham


Most of the roof tops and parking covers in the neighborhood can host PV panels dedicated for H2 production. A typical American house having 2,000 sq foot area can have about 1,000 sq ft, or 100 sq meter of solar PV. At 1 kWh per sq meter per day, each house can provide about 2 kg of H2 per day. At 60-70 mile per kg of H2, this will satisfy 2-4x the daily driving requirement of a 2-car household even if they both are FCV's. Multiply this by 100's of houses and you will see that this is sufficient to power all the cars in the neighborhood even if all of them are FCV's, AND still have energy left to power the houses' electricity needs.

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