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DOE to award up to $4.6M for innovations in fuel cell and hydrogen fuel technologies

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:

  • Platinum Group Metal (PGM)-free catalysts and membrane electrode assemblies (TRL 2- 4). DOE is inviting applications for novel cathode Platinum Group Metal (PGM)-free catalysts for the oxygen reaction and PGM-free cathode membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) for low-temperature and high-temperature polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) and phosphoric acid fuel cells (PAFCs).

    For alkaline membrane fuel cells (AMFCs), the development of innovative PGM-free anode catalysts for the hydrogen oxidation reaction, PGM-free cathode catalysts for the oxygen reaction and PGM-free MEAs are of interest. Cathode PGM-free catalyst approaches should exclude the development of carbon-nitrogen complex based catalysts.

  • Fuel cell–based electrochemical conversion devices for stationary energy storage (TRL 2- 5). Approaches of interest include the development of innovative polymer electrolyte, alkaline membrane electrolyte and solid oxide electrolyte based unitized reversible fuel cells, as well as regenerative flow cells/flow batteries that could address renewable energy intermittency in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

  • Completely innovative hydrogen production and delivery technologies to reach the DOE cost goal of $2-$4/kg of hydrogen (produced and dispensed but untaxed) (TRL 2-5). Applications are invited for novel approaches to hydrogen production through renewable pathways such as thermochemical conversion of biomass-derived feedstocks, and direct solar water splitting (at semi-central or central scale production). Innovative materials, components, and systems are needed to establish the technical and cost feasibility for hydrogen delivery. These include forecourt technologies (e.g., compressors, storage vessels, hoses, meters, dispensers, etc.) for 700 bar dispensing and 875 bar or greater forecourt storage, as well as next generation technologies for hydrogen transmission and distribution.

  • Breakthrough, reversible hydrogen storage materials that operate at hydrogen pressures of 350 bar or less (TRL 2-5). Applications are invited for completely novel materials-based approaches, not previously supported through the program, to meet the onboard light-duty vehicle storage system target of 40 grams of hydrogen per liter system volume at operating pressures of 350 bar or less. Consideration must also be given to the system mass, cost and refill time for proposed concepts as compared with DOE system targets.

  • Hydrogen infrastructure (TRL 9-10). Manufacturing solutions for low-cost, standardized skid-mounted hydrogen fueling stations; and business models/financial approaches to address infrastructure costs (e.g., including soft costs) are of interest.

The incubator approach. The DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) is focused on achieving mid-to-long term clean energy goals for the US. To do so, EERE has established multi-year plans and roadmaps. EERE focuses 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.

To enhance the responsiveness of the roadmap approach, EERE is issuing “Incubator” Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) within its existing Offices and programs to support innovative technologies and solutions that could help meet existing goals but are not represented in a significant way in the Offices’ existing Multi-Year Program Plans (MYPPs) or current portfolios.

The Incubator programs allow EERE to assess new technologies for their potential to be “on-ramped” to future MYPPs. Successful incubator projects will reduce the risk associated with potentially breakthrough approaches and technologies so that they could be viable candidates for inclusion in future program roadmaps.

This specific FOA represents an extension of the incubator approach to the Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO). FCTO is a key component of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) portfolio.

FCTO targets. Among the FCTO targets are:

  • A direct hydrogen fuel cell power system for transportation with 60% peak-efficient, 5,000 hour durability and a cost of $30/kW to be competitive with gasoline vehicles.

  • Hydrogen production and delivery at a cost of $2-$4/kg of hydrogen (produced and dispensed but untaxed) by 2020.

  • Onboard hydrogen storage for light duty vehicles that has a potential for a system volumetric density greater than 40 g hydrogen per liter and that can be refueled at pressures of 350 bar or less to enable a driving range of more than 300 miles.



Why does DOE, CARB, Obama and Jerry Brown continue to waste tax money on this losing technology? Level with the people. This is give-away money to the car and oil industries for political purposes and the research is bogus.


Lad, I generally agree with you regarding large dollar amounts given to fuel cell work. I would just say that research on most topics is a good idea. For instance what if you could cost effectively produce and store hydrogen on site using renewable energy sources? It sounds like a pipe dream right? Well it probably is, but spending a few million to let someone try is not so terrible. I would have a tendency to spread the money to new people all the time, instead of funding the same people constantly, but small research projects like these is actually about the right level of support. I would not support the government aiding the car companies with fuel cell vehicle or the hydrogen infrastructure for cars, but R&D is okay. You never know what else might be discovered.

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