DOE to issue $35M funding opportunity for hydrogen and fuel cell technology; Class 1-2 fuel cell plug-in hybrids
The US Department of Energy (DOE) intends to issue a $35-million funding opportunity (FOA DE-FOA-0001224) (earlier post) covering a broad spectrum of its Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) portfolio with topics ranging from research and development (R&D) to demonstration and deployment projects.
In particular, the R&D areas of interest for this FOA will include hydrogen production via microbial biomass conversion; low PGM (Platinum Group Metal) catalyst development for PEM fuel cell applications; development of an integrated intelligent hydrogen dispenser; and fuel cell and hydrogen manufacturing R&D focusing on hydrogen delivery pipeline manufacturing R&D. This FOA also includes demonstration topic areas that will help to accelerate adoption of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies with specific interest in mobile hydrogen refuelers; fuel cell powered range extenders for light duty hybrid electric vehicles; and a Communities of Excellence topic featuring hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.
The FOA will include two general Areas of Interest, each with several Subtopics:
Area of Interest 1: Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Technologies Research and Development (R&D)
Hydrogen Production R&D: Microbial Biomass Conversion. 1 to 3 awards between $1M and $3M. Microbial biomass conversion processes offer mid- to long-term potential for sustainable hydrogen production with low environmental impact. Technologies for hydrogen production from biomass using fermentation or microbially-aided electrolysis systems or hybrid processes that integrate multiple systems are of interest.
Areas of emphasis could include, but are not limited to, development of microbial strains or co-cultures with improved hydrogen yields; reactor designs to improve hydrogen production yields or reduce costs (e.g., designs that improve the hydraulic retention time or use lower-cost materials); hybrid systems to maximize the hydrogen produced per unit of biomass (e.g., integrating systems where the waste product of one process is utilized as the feedstock of the next); and/or technologies that reduce external energy inputs (e.g. by removing or reducing the need for feedstock heat-treatments or external electricity inputs).
The applicant must indicate how the proposed work would enable a feasible reactor system that would ultimately be capable of projected low-cost production, meeting the FCTO production cost goal of <$2/kg by 2020. (Photobiological or photocatylic approaches are excluded.)
Fuel Cell Technologies R&D: Low Platinum Group Metal Catalysts and Supports. 2 to 5 awards between $1M and $3M. The focus of this topic is novel cathode catalyst and support R&D that will improve mass activity at high potentials, improve performance at high current density, and improve durability while decreasing cost.
Catalyst studies will include R&D on low PGM loading cathode catalysts (for MEAs with total PGM loadings less than the 2020 target of 0.125 mg PGM/cm2 and 0.125 mg PGM/kW). Support studies will include novel carbon-based support materials and structures or non-carbon supports. Applications must show the potential to meet all of the 2020 catalyst targets simultaneously.
Hydrogen Delivery R&D: Integrated Intelligent Hydrogen Dispensers for 700 bar Gaseous Refueling of Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles. 1 to 2 awards between $1M and $2M. This topic addresses the development of the next generation of integrated intelligent hydrogen dispensers for 700 bar refueling.
The integrated intelligent dispenser includes the hose, meter, and control system necessary to deliver hydrogen safely per the SAE J2601 using a Type A dispenser for fast-fill capability. Specific metrics for intelligent hydrogen dispenser will be outlined in detail in the FOA. In general terms, fill accuracy and time should be comparable to current gasoline dispensing capabilities.
Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Manufacturing R&D: Hydrogen Delivery Pipeline Manufacturing. One award between $1M and $1.5M. Existing steel pipeline used for carrying natural gas is costly to convert to hydrogen delivery due to the high labor costs associated with joining steel pipes, which are currently transported in 20" lengths and must be welded.
Fiber-reinforced composite pipes may be a viable option to reduce the cost and complexity of hydrogen pipeline installation. The current method of joining composite pipes uses compression fittings that are prone to failure under the high delivery pressure needed for the hydrogen fueling infrastructure.
DOE is seeking novel approaches to reduce the cost of fiber-reinforced composite pipeline for hydrogen delivery. Examples of approaches may include continuous on-site manufacturing of fiber-reinforced pipeline with no pipe-to-pipe joints or improved joining techniques for spooled fiber-reinforced pipe. Applicants must clearly define the state-of-the-art and provide details illustrating how their proposed manufacturing process will advance the state-of-the-art consistent with meeting the DOE target of reducing the cost of hydrogen delivery from the point of production to the point of use in light-duty vehicles to <$2/gge by 2020.
Area of Interest 2: Demonstration and Deployments to Enable Early Adoption of Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Technologies.
Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Validation: Mobile Refueling. One award between $1M and $1.5M. Several major automakers have already announced their imminent plans for the first mass-production hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. The customers of these advanced vehicles will be located in areas that have already established an initial hydrogen fueling infrastructure. However, these initial locations will be limited in number, constraining the wide-scale availability of hydrogen during initial years of market development. Mobile hydrogen refueling is an approach that may be able to provide solutions o meet this initial demand, and to assist with the expansion of a full-scale hydrogen infrastructure.
FCTO seeks proposals relating to the design, development, deployment, and validation of economically viable mobile hydrogen refuelers that are flexible in meeting customers’ needs. The basic concept of a mobile refueling unit involves a truck or trailer with hydrogen storage vessels; control and metering equipment; pump or compressor; dispenser with hose and nozzle; and safety systems. DOE is seeking proposals for mobile hydrogen refueler designs and concepts that demonstrate improvements to the state of the technology via meeting or exceeding multiple metrics at the least total cost.
Proposed mobile refuelers should target a minimum usable capacity to provide hydrogen for at least one day of station outage (e.g., 25 – 100 kg depending on station size and utilization), and be able to provide fueling to 700 bar pressure for fuel cell electric light duty vehicles. Minimum throughput per hour (from any tank condition; including dwell time), should allow for several back-to-back fills.
The proposed projects need to be economically optimized, so as to minimize capital and operational costs while meeting specified performance metrics. Proposers will be expected to provide details on their operations plan and costs, i.e., the refueler service routine and related logistic considerations. Technical information such as compressor characteristics; power source/configuration (e.g., on-board power take-off or standardized plug-in at station); and optimum storage pressures shall also be delineated. Non-technical key factors such as permitting and safety standards need to be incorporated into project plans, along with strategies to manage them. Applicants are expected to validate their proposed systems by collecting and evaluating related performance and cost data.
Market Transformation: Demonstration and Deployment of Plug-In Fuel Cell Hybrid Electric Light-Duty Vehicle. 1 to 3 awards between $1M and $3M. FCTO seeks to accelerate the development and deployment of on-board fuel cell hybrid powered Class 1-2 light-duty electric vehicles to substantially increase the zero emission driving range, thereby reducing petroleum consumption and related emissions, and increasing the viability of these electric drive vehicles.
Applicants must demonstrate and deploy plug-in fuel cell hybrid all electric light-duty vehicles for applications such as parcel delivery or freight distribution, corporate all electric fleet, taxi services, or corporate utility transportation such as service call vehicles. The vehicle fleet applications of interest are commercial vehicles that return to their fleet facility at the end of their daily shift operations.
Applicants must demonstrate system cost reduction, potential technical performance, reliability and maintainability to develop a track record of fuel cell operations. These vehicles must demonstrate an economic driving range sufficient to allow full shift operation without refueling.
FCTO Crosscutting: America’s Climate Communities of Excellence. One award, up to $250,000. FCTO seeks proposals from communities that are in need of technical assistance in implementing hydrogen and fuel cell technologies to reduce greenhouse gases and prepare their communities for the impacts of climate change.
Applicants should focus on dual-purpose actions that address both of those goals together, where possible. Examples include expanding installation of distributed energy sources using fuel cells for combined heat and power, supporting the deployment of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) in emergency responder or other fleet applications, through the installation of hydrogen infrastructure, supporting the deployment of off-road transportation technologies with zero emissions such as fuel cell powered lift trucks; ground support equipment for airports; zero emission, heavy duty vehicles such as drayage trucks at ports; and medium duty vehicles such as parcel delivery vans or converting landfill and sewage treatment plant waste into usable fuel such as hydrogen for power generation or transportation applications.
The DOE plans to issue the FOA on or about the second week of February 2015.