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DOE launches $1M H2 Refuel H-Prize for small-scale hydrogen refueling

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) and the Hydrogen Education Foundation (HEF) launched the $1-million H2 Refuel H-Prize. The two-year competition challenges America’s engineers and entrepreneurs to develop affordable systems for small-scale hydrogen fueling. This H-Prize competition is intended to assist in expanding the hydrogen infrastructure across the country to support more transportation energy options for US consumers, including fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs).

The H2 Refuel H-Prize will award a $1-million prize to the top refueler system entry that can produce hydrogen using electricity and/or natural gas (energy sources commonly available to residential locations) and dispense the hydrogen to a vehicle. Systems considered would be at the home-scale and able to generate and dispense 1-5 kg H2/day for use at residences, or the medium-scale, generating and dispensing 5-50 kg H2/day. Medium-scale systems would serve a larger community with multiple users daily, such as a large apartment complex or retail centers to fuel small fleets of vehicles (e.g., light duty automobiles, forklifts or tractors).

The H-Prize, enacted by Congress, authorized the Department of Energy to create a program to award competitive cash prizes that will advance the commercial application of hydrogen energy technologies by dramatizing and incentivizing accelerated research. The H-Prize was originally established by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, in Sec. 654. There are several H-Prize categories, including production, storage, distribution, utilization, and prototypes and transformational technologies.

Hydrogen infrastructure remains the most critical barrier to the widespread adoption of FCEVs, the DOE said. The H2 Refuel competition aims to address this barrier through easily deployed small scale fueling systems for home and community use until widespread infrastructure development takes place.

The competition is planned to last two years. In the first year, teams will register for the competition, find partners, design a system, find a site to install the system, and submit data and designs to a panel of independent judges. These judges will select the top teams as finalists to advance to the testing phase.

Finalist teams would then have seven months to build, install, and prepare their systems for testing. The winner would demonstrate that they can meet both the technical and cost criteria as outlined in the final guidelines.

With support from the FCTO, private industry, and the Energy Department’s national laboratories, significant advances in fuel cell and hydrogen technologies have already been achieved. In the last several years, automotive fuel cell costs have been reduced by more than 50%, fuel cell durability has doubled, and the amount of expensive platinum needed in fuel cells has fallen by 80% since 2005.

The H-Prize is managed by the FCTO in the US Department of Energy, which is the lead Federal agency for directing activities in hydrogen and fuel cell R&D. The Hydrogen Education Foundation, the H-Prize administrator, is a 501(c)(3) organization that promotes clean hydrogen energy technologies through national competitions and educational programs.



'In the last several years, automotive fuel cell costs have been reduced by more than 50%,'

I think they mean: 'to 5%' as that is the figure Toyota uses for the decrease, and they should know, from of the order of $1 million to $50k


The larger system of 5-50kg/dy should be relatively straightforward, I would imagine, by downscaling larger units such as this:


Hurry-up hydrogen cars. Im eager to see it on the road as the hydrogen stations. I hope that if it's a success then they will cease on the spot any battery subsidies and redirect subsidies toward hydrogen that will have more impact toward alleviating pollution.


This is an interesting potential development, specially for people living in the country side, far away from future commercial H2 stations.

However, 80% to 90% of near future extended range FCEV owners will fill up at much larger commercial H2 stations, much the same as we fill up at current gas stations.

Germany will probably have 400+ large H2 stations in operation before one of these small facility is in operation.


Hydrogen from biogas is a great option for rural regions, and can also power farm machinery, which use large amounts of fuel:


This is it. This is the everything that will be the push to bring great interest to H2 - home fuelling. Though it already exists as stand-alone and as part of a H2 house-wide system through Honda - for almost a decade. Even upscalable to multi-family residences and workplaces - better. Anything to destroy the monopoly of 'fuel' stations irrespective of what they dispense. I am not one for decentralization of anything - energy, power, water, whatever - but personal vehicle fuel (and its associated costs depending on what your sources and techniques are) is that one thing that will boost economic activity - dislocation of fuel costs from corporate and international interests. Cannot come soon enough.


This is what will actually stop hydrogen. No one who makes money on fuels wants to change the system so that individuals or small groups can be independent of large industrial corporations. Oil is the worlds number one commodity and we fight wars for it and undermine democracies for it. Our inflation is because of it and it stands as the single most profitable commodity in the world. Why would we expect that those that make that much money wouldn't buy enough political influence to protect their wealth and future wealth accumulation. We have been speaking about being independent of foreign oil for 50 years and yet nearly 50% of our oil still comes through foreign countries. I contend that the plan was always to pay lip service to energy independence while never actually achieving it because it is not in the best interest of the oil companies and more specifically their investors. To pretend like we are free and have a democratic/capitalist system seems childish and naïve.



I agree, a group of companies that make that much profit will protect those profits vigorously. E85 can not get into gas stations because oil company contracts forbid it. They could get into making cellulose ethanol as well as gasoline but they refuse, instead they make sure that their dealers can not even sell it.


Anyone with a PHEV or BEV is already fueling at home, and has no issues with leakage or explosion hazards.

Remember the Phill home-fueling pump for CNG cars?  Apparently there were issues with it (moisture or what, I never learned).  Just watch for the same sort of troubles with these small hydrogen generators (aside from the high expense).

Roger Pham

The major energy companies will develop alternative fuels because petroleum will be increasingly less profitable and harder to obtain. H2 is on top of the list of the most profitable alternative fuels because it is so easy to produce and most efficient to produce from renewable energy sources.

Small scale H2 filler is good for remote area to permit FCEV's to have access to fuel anywhere. Also, lawn equipment can run on H2 to fight local air pollution.


Honda claimed home fueling with Phill would cause moisture to end up in the tank, there was no corroboration of that claim. Phill is still made by the same company along with larger units. Honda had an H2 fueler that reformer natural gas or did electrolysis.

The national fire safety people will not allow a tank of compressed natural gas nor hydrogen on residential property, the Honda and Phill units were real time go all night units.

Interesting how the authorities will not allow a compressed gas tank in your garage, but they WILL allow you to park your car in the garage with a full compressed tank.

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