CMU demo’ing Autonomous SRX in Washington this week
Ford and Intel demonstrate in-car personalization with perceptual computing; Project Mobii

NREL and GM announce multi-year R&D partnership to reduce cost of automotive fuel cells

The Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and General Motors (GM) are partnering on a multi-year, multi-million dollar joint effort to accelerate the reduction of automotive fuel cell stack costs through fuel cell material and manufacturing research and development (R&D). Most major automakers, including GM, have made significant progress in the development of fuel cell electric vehicles, but achieving commercial deployment with global impact will require further cost reductions.

NREL and GM will focus on critical next-generation fuel cell electric vehicle challenges, which include reducing platinum loading, achieving high power densities, understanding the implication of contaminants on fuel cell performance and durability, and accelerating manufacturing processes to achieve the benefits of increased economies of scale.

The work will be done under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) between NREL and GM and takes advantage of NREL’s state-of-the-art Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF). The effort includes staff collaboration and the exchange of equipment, knowledge, and materials.

Special features of the facility include hazardous material and gas handling capabilities and the infrastructure required to support a wide range of appropriate test conditions including integrated electrical, thermal, and hydrogen systems.

In July 2013, GM and Honda announced a long-term collaboration to co-develop next-generation fuel cell and hydrogen storage systems, aiming for potential commercialization in 2020. In addition, GM and Honda are working together with stakeholders to further advance refueling infrastructure, which is critical for the long-term viability and consumer acceptance of fuel cell vehicles. (Earlier post.)

Also, last year, GM opened a new state-of-the-art Fuel Cell Development Laboratory at GM Powertrain World Headquarters in Pontiac, Michigan. According to The Clean Energy Patent Growth Index, GM ranked No. 1 in total fuel cell patents granted in 2013, and continues to lead all companies in total fuel cell patents granted since 2002.

NREL’s work on the project is funded by the Energy Department’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

NREL’s collaboration with GM dates back to 1993, when the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles was launched to accelerate development of hybrid-electric cars. Since then, the automaker has been one of the lab’s key partners in advancing sustainable transportation R&D, with projects ranging from advanced power electronics and battery thermal management and modeling studies to a multiyear National Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle Learning Demonstration. Data from the Learning Demonstration were sent to the National Fuel Cell Technology Evaluation Center (NFCTEC), a data center housed within ESIF for independent analyses of advanced hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. This latest effort builds on a team project studying the effects of system contaminants on fuel cells that NREL and GM have been part of since 2009.



Great, they'll waste more money on a technology that has a PHYSICS problem holding it back insteand of the engineering problems they'll try to iron out on this program.


GM ranked No. 1 in total fuel cell patents granted in 2013, and continues to lead all companies in total fuel cell patents granted since 2002

And are these partially taxpayer funded patents going to be made open domain as Tesla just did with theirs to further the cause ?


Even with all those Patents, GM is 10+ years behind Hyundai and Toyota with affordable FCEVs mass production and may not catch up for many years.

Denmark, Norway, Germany, Holland, Japan, S-Korea and many other countries with clean Wind and Solar energy will soon used FCEVs to their economic and environmental advantage.

Many FCEVs will soon compete favorably with extended range BEVs while offering a valuable solution for intermittent energy sources such as Wind and Solar.


The hydrogen cars are already allright but the hydrogen infrastructure is wrong. It take small efficient water electrolyzers at the point of sale to make non-polluting hydrogen gas sold to the consumer. Forget natural gas reformulation or transporting hydrogen by trucks. The actual hydrogen stations and the price of hydrogen is too costly, to date it is a flop. the price of one kilo of hydrogen should be 2 dollars or less. Put these electrolyzers at gas stations where there is also grocery to sell so the station is already making money.

All these bevs and hydrogen cars and also hybrids will vanish in the future as soon as goverments stop subsidizing them.


If you are a car company, heres how to hedge your bets: Put out FCVs for the ZEV credits because you get more credit for fewer cars. Then knowing a FCV is really a BEV modified to include the FC crap, when EVs prove to be the car to build, dump the crap out of the design; didn't cost you anything to customer test your cars because DOE funded the project with taxpayer money. Oh!, and sell as many diesels and gas guzzlers as you can while battery development progresses at a snail's pace.


And have a Tesla-based charger design tested and certified for manufacture just in case.

Although by that time the majors may well have lost their lead and be relegated yet again to second-string status. When the gas crisis hit, it took a long time to produce a new line of smaller, fuel efficient vehicles and enormous market share was lost to Japanese manufacturers. It's unlikely they'll ever get it back.

Shareholders will notice.


I listen to a 1.5 h FCV special demo from Toyota's top brass today and their technical approach to future vehicles is based on a mix of technologies including improved HEVs, PHEVs and FCEVs. It seems that Toyota's BEVs will have to wait for improved affordable batteries by 2020 or so.

In post 2020 era, many of their (Toyota's) well proven high quality PHEVs and FCEVs may be modified and offered as extended range BEVs. Replacing the ICE or FC range extender with improved batteries will be easy to do.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)