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DOE announces $1M H2 Refuel H-Prize Competition finalist: SimpleFuel

The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced that SimpleFuel is the finalist for the $1-million H2 Refuel H-Prize Competition. (Earlier post.) SimpleFuel was selected by an independent judging panel and will have until July 2016 to deploy their small scale, on-site hydrogen generation and fueling system and prepare it for testing.

SimpleFuel plans to develop a home scale refueler that can provide a 1-kilogram fill to vehicles in 15 minutes at 700 bar using hydrogen produced via electrolysis, with a design that minimizes setback distances and reduces the physical footprint of the system. SimpleFuel is a collaboration of three companies: Ivys Energy Solutions (Massachusetts), McPhy Energy N.A. (Massachusetts), and PDC Machines (Pennsylvania).

Data collection will begin in July and continue through October to evaluate the system based on the technical and cost criteria laid out in the guidelines. An open house during the testing phase will provide an opportunity for the public to get a look at the system. When the testing phase ends, the data will be analyzed to determine if SimpleFuel’s system meets the criteria to win the $1 million prize.

The H2 Refuel H-Prize Competition opened in October 2015 to challenge America’s innovators to deploy on-site hydrogen generation systems that use electricity or natural gas and can be used in homes, community centers, retail sites, or similar locations to fuel hydrogen vehicles.



This must be the technology/ policy/ methodology that will make H2 a part of the vehicle mix - an at-home/ multi-residential installation that creates a parallel ecosystem completely separate from corporate station/ installation refuelling policies and pricing. With the near-death of the 'gas' station so will its arbitrary and gouging practices.

I wish SimpleFuel the best, home refueling would definitely solve a significant barrier to widespread adoption.

There are a few market realities that make the project an uphill slog:

The cost of producing hydrogen from electrolysis ranges from $4.90/kg-H2 to $5.70/kg-H2 dispensed, using electricity costs of $0.053/kWh.

Residential electricity rates are substantially higher. Super-off peak is $0.18kWh in San Diego, with similar costs throughout California. US National average electricity cost is $0.12 kWh.

A public refueling infrastructure would still need to be built to facilitate travel outside the local metro area. These $4m stations would be even less economically viable if used only for distance travel, and they are not economically viable even without residential competition.

It's going to fascinating to see what the cost of purchase and installation will be for a home H2 station, and how it would compete witha $500 EVSE.


Mass production could trim cost of small home H2 units and large H2 stations by 5X to 10X by 2025 or so.

Using off peak much lower cost e-energy could also reduce production cost below $4/Kg.

Alternatively, large H2 stations could get CAN $0.028/kWh (or US $0.019/kWh) Hydro/Wind industrial rate 24/7 in our area. Off peak demand periods special lower rates could be negotiated, much below the industrial rate given above.

Secondly, H2 station owners/operators could get a sizeable initial installation subsidy from local, provincial and federal governments.

As the technology evolves, an 80+% efficiency will be reached. The 20% loss will be compensated with lower off peak energy cost etc.

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