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DOE seeking input on R&D and business needs for automotive PEM fuel cells and fueling

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) is seeking feedback from the research community, relevant stakeholders, and industry on technical and economic barriers for fuel cell-related technologies. (RFI DE-FOA-0001510)

Specifically, FCTO seeks information regarding: R&D needs to improve performance and reduce cost of bipolar plates for polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs); the high startup cost for hydrogen refueling stations, which may be caused by extensive installation and permitting efforts or low equipment utilization; and innovative research topics that may not currently be part of the FCTO portfolio but could potentially be appropriate for future efforts or funding opportunity announcements.

Bipolar plates are projected to be one of the highest fuel cell cost items at high production volumes and are a key component in determining fuel cell performance and durability of an automotive fuel cell system. Bipolar plates that meet performance and cost targets established by FCTO are part of the strategy for meeting overall system cost targets.

DOE technical targets for bipolar plates
Characteristic Units 2015 status 2020 targets
Cost $/kWnet 7 3
Plate weight kg/kWnet <0.4 0.4
Plate H2 permeation coefficient Std cm3/(sec cm2Pa)
@ 80°C 3 atm 100% RH
0 <1.3 x 10–14
Corrosion, anode µA/cm2 No active peak <1 and no active peak
Corrosion, cathode µA/cm2 <0.1 <1
Electrical conductivity S/cm >100 >100
Areal specific resistance Ohm-cm2 0.006 0.01
Flexural strength MPa >34 (carbon plate) >25
Forming elongation % 20-40 40

The other major factor in commercialization of automotive PEMFCs is availability and cost reductions of hydrogen fuel. DOE attributes the high cost of hydrogen fuel to the fuel cell vehicle user in part to permitting on a site without existing gaseous fuel such as compressed natural gas or the lack for fuel demand by privately owned vehicles to cover the high capital equipment investment.

In this area, DOE is looking for information on the co‐location of hydrogen stations with existing Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) stations and the feasibility of mobile hydrogen refueling delivery services.

FCTO is specifically interested in information on cost avoidance and its effect on fuel prices.

Responses are due by 25 March 2016.



Much lower cost, longer operation life FCs together with lower cost H2 will boast FCEVs market share and competitiveness in the post 2020 era?

Denmark, California, Japan, So. Korea and Germany and many other countries will already have a first generation H2 stations thin network in place by or before 2020?


Most of the new hydrogen fueling stations in California will be renewable, they run using renewable power contracts. When they sell the oxygen generated they can lower the price and make a profit.

With longer range PHEVs becoming widely available, there's no economic justification for building out a H2 infrastructure.

There's a reason NG passenger vehicles never caught on.


eci, presumably Jay Cole:

Since you confounded costs including and excluding tax, it would seem that your abilities to tell us about economics are fairly limited, and lie rather in trolling every thread on hydrogen and fuel cells on other, more considered forums than your own.

It is good to see that both Denmark and Norway are well on their way to having complete although thin coverage of hydrogen stations, with the latter perhaps growing tired of forgoing taxes on Tesla luxo barges, with the well heeled snaffling the perks.

There is no economic justification for this regressive subsidy.


NG caught on with city buses, more than 30% are.

You have a good point SJC. There's a strong case to be made for commercial NG vehicles which is why we've seen them gain some market share. They have a limited, well defined route and the fleet facility is usually big enough and zoned so it can be equipped with a fueling station.

But I have not read a single compelling advantage articulated of passenger H2 FCVs over PHEVs with good AER.

Davemart continues to be befuddled and confused by the difference between a print magazine on the newsstand and an internet blog which share a single word out of three in their name. I dont know what to suggest other than up the intake of Omega-3s and take up crosswird puzzles.


It does not matter if YOU can figure it out, the market WILL.


Over the top Davemart
Care to put your name up?


My input is: stop wasting money

It appears the market has figured it out, SJC. They aren't buying. In the US, Hyundai sold less than 100 Tucson FCVs, and Toyota has pulled the Mirai off sale.

The market apparently expects fuel to be available prior to purchasing an alt fuel vehicle.


The DOE should solicit projects to develop a solar powered home hydrogen generation system that can provide hydrogen at less than gasoline prices. This way we will believe that their support of fuel cell vehicles is more than just a way to waste research dollars that would best be spent on EV battery improvements. This won't make the fossil industry happy though, and is probably why DOE would never do it. The people who control congress also control DOE, and they get paid to protect old industries from capitalism.

@BK, agree that home hydrogen production is unlikely, but it's more complicated than lack of R&D funding. Would you really want to worry about the on-site production and compression - to 10,000 PSI - of a highly flammable gas?

What city is going to issue permits for residential hydrogen production, compression and dispensing systems? Its already hard enough to get permits for commercial sites which require large setbacks and blast walls.

The caution is warranted; there have already been fires at commercial H2 stations. I use natural gas at home, it's a danger I'm willing to live with although I know that gas leaks blow up houses. But compressing any gas to 10,000 PSI is a whole other level of risk.


You mislead people by telling them that battery replacement is not a total cost of owning an EV. When you mislead people you lose credibility, I notice posters at InsideEVs pay you no mind.

Apparently you're as confused and befuddled as Davemart, SJC. I've already said several times that neither I or my publication has any connection at all with InsideEVs. If you wish to slander me, you'll need to do better than trying to connect me with one of the hardest-working, most popular EV news blogs.

Every time you bring up the canard about battery replacement, it just gives me another opportunity to remind readers that most EV drive trains have a 8-10 year warranty, and that Tesla's 85 and 90 have 8 years and unlimited mileage warranties.

LG Chem's CEO has recently said that their battery packs are expected to last 15-20 years.

Other than early-model Leafs, plug-in batteries are exceeding performance goals. If you have any studies that show otherwise, go ahead and post them. But you don't so we'll just keep repeating this inane conversation as often as you bring it up.

Criticizing PEV batteries is a curious debating point. H2 tanks on FCVs like the Mirai are life limited at 13 years. Less service than most drivers will see from their EV batteries.

Roger Pham

It is very encouraging for FCEV and H2 technology when the 2015 tech parameters for bi-polar plate have all met or exceeded DOE 2020 targets, according to the table above.

>>>>>>>>>>"In this area, DOE is looking for information on the co‐location of hydrogen stations with existing Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) stations and the feasibility of mobile hydrogen refueling delivery services."

Unfortunately, H2 cannot share the same compressor nor the same dispenser as NG, because H2 for FC must be ultra-pure and cannot have even trace of NG contamination. However, for zoning and permitting issue, this should be of advantage, since both CNG and H2 are both gases under very high pressures, so, smart idea, after all.

Even more encouraging, mobile H2 dispensing tanker is a very practical way to permit the use of a high-efficiency and highly cost-effective central electrolysis plant, that can halve the investment cost (CAPEX) of electrolyzer. The central electrolysis plant is directly connected to local solar and wind farms using DC power lines, thereby avoiding losses and expenses of DC to AC and then back to DC conversion and grid distribution cost. The mobile H2 dispensing tanker can be parked anywhere in short notice, thereby overcoming permitting and zoning issue with building a fixed H2 station.

The efficiency of transporting H2 in a high-pressure self-dispending tanker is very high, up to 99.8% efficient for 15-mi radius from the plant to the dispensing area, and very low in cost, because the tanker will be parked at the central electrolysis plant to get filled up as the H2 is being produced, and then driven to any locations desired. Can be parked within any large gasoline station for the convenience of customers who may want also to use the restroom, buying snacks, drinks, lotto tickets, re-inflate the tires, and cleaning the windshield...etc.

Mobile self-dispensing H2 tankers can be mass-produced in large factories, therefore can be built much cheaper than a $2-4-million stationary H2 station that must be built one-by-one, without benefit of mass production and automation, and with much better quality control, using better trained and highly experienced workers.

When one combine the cost-reduction effects of the use of directly-connected DC current from local solar and wind farms with ultra-low-cost Renewable-Energy electricity, the large-scale central H2 electrolysis stations with ultra-low-cost CAPEX for electrolyzer investment from economy of scale, and with ultra-low-cost from mass-produced mobile and self-dispensing H2 tankers that can be parked within the confine of any large gasoline stations to eliminate all additional cost of building and running a fueling station...the day that H2 fuel and FCEV's will arrive...
When the fuel inside a mobile dispensing tanker is exhausted, just drive a freshly-filled tanker by and drive away the exhausted one. Piece o cake!

The solar and wind farms connected to the central electrolysis station can also serve to provide power to the grid during peak grid demand, serving dual purpose, thereby greatly accelerating the deployment of solar and wind energy.

In fact, all future solar and wind farms will be connected to the central electrolyzer plant AND to the grid, having way more capacity than the grid demand at even peak time, thereby can cover the grid practically ALL the time with little requirement for grid utility energy storage ($Expensive), while any grid-excess power will be devoted to making H2 for both transportation and for stationary use. The age of 100% Renewable Energy will have arrive!

The final step is to have H2 flowing in existing local NG distributing piping, and the transition from fossil fuel to RE will be complete. With some modifications, local NG piping can accept 100% H2.


Save, clean, lower cost, distributed H2 will soon be complementary to REs and common place in most countries. The on-going argument of BEVs versus FCEVs is futile. Both technologies can and will co-exist for many decades.

Transportable mass produced lower cost H2 stations will become a reality by 2020/2025 or so. The only feeds will be clean REs and water.

Mobile mass produced H2 dispensing units is a good alternative for early thin networks in lower population density areas and special applications.

Railroads/locomotives in USA and Canada coud be modified to use electrified FC locomotives. Very few H2 stations would be required. Most of the railroad H2 stations could service road FCEVs to lower initial and on-going H2 cost.

Of course, Coal, Oil and NG industries will object but it has to be done to lower GHGs and pollution.

HD>The on-going argument of BEVs versus FCEVs is futile.

Discussing the relative merits of these and other clean technologies seems to be the purpose of this forum.


ecic: at home or down the street at the corner fuel station, what does it matter? 10,000psi has safety issues. I am really pointing out that the continued support for FCVs is a ruse to distract from the more likely solutions and that it is acceptable to current industries because they believe that hydrogen will be made from NG and they will still control the profits. If DOE is serious about FCVs they would be focused on water splitting and not necessarily in a way that keeps us paying the people who lobby against change. I simply doubt the sincerity of DOE. I don't think it is coincidence that keeps us paying the same people who have political access.

BK> I don't think it is coincidence that keeps us paying the same people who have political access.

I could not agree more.


H2 can be stored, at very low pressure in SS containers/tanks. A 50L SS H2 tank will store enough H2 to propel mid-sized FCEVs for 500 Km to 700 Km or supply enough electricity for the average home for 1+ week.

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