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DOE to invest $30M to further H2 and fuel cell technology as industry continues strong growth

The US Department of Energy (DOE) Energy Department (DOE) released a new report showing continued momentum and growth in the fuel cell industry. The 2015 Fuel Cell Technologies Market Report shows that more than 60,000 fuel cells, totaling roughly 300 megawatts (MW), shipped worldwide in 2015. The number of MW shipped grew by more than 65% compared to 2014. 2015 also saw the world’s first fuel cell vehicles for sale.

To further this emerging market, DOE also announced a notice of intent (DE-FOA-0001411) to invest $30 million, subject to appropriations, to advance fuel cell and hydrogen technologies. These projects will leverage national lab consortia launched under DOE’s Energy Materials Network (EMN) this past year (earlier post), and will support the President’s Materials Genome Initiative and advanced manufacturing priorities.

The new funding opportunity (FOA) will provide funding to meet DOE’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office’s (FCTO’s) goals for Hydrogen Production and Delivery, Hydrogen Storage, Fuel Cell Technologies, Technology Validation, Manufacturing, and Analysis Programs.

The FOA has four projected areas of interest—Research and Development; Demonstration and Deployment; Consortium Topics; and Analysis—each with their own topics.

Applicants to the Energy Department’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office’s fiscal year 2017 funding opportunity will collaborate with national lab consortia stemming from the EMN initiative. The EMN consortia have been launched to make unique, world-class capabilities at the national laboratories more accessible to industry and academia, facilitating collaborations that will expedite the development of advanced materials.

National lab consortia that will be leveraged include:

  • Electrocatalysis Consortium (ElectroCat)–this consortium will accelerate the development of catalysts made without platinum group metals (PGM-free) for use in transportation fuel cell applications.

  • HydroGEN Consortium (HydroGEN)–this consortium will accelerate the development of advanced water splitting materials for hydrogen production, with an initial focus on advanced electrolytic, photoelectrochemical, and solar thermochemical pathways.

  • Hydrogen Materials—Advanced Research Consortium (HyMARC)–this consortium aims to address unsolved scientific challenges in the development of viable solid-state materials for storage of hydrogen onboard vehicles.

Fiscal year 2017 funding will also be targeted at the development of low-cost, high-strength precursors for carbon fibers that can be used in vehicular hydrogen storage vessels. Applicants for this topic will be encouraged to collaborate with LightMat, an EMN consortium launched by the DOE Vehicle Technologies Office to enable light-weighting of vehicles through the development of high-strength steels and carbon fiber.


Source: “2015 Fuel Cell Technologies Market Report” Click to enlarge.

In addition to transportation applications, hydrogen has the potential to decarbonize multiple sectors by enabling renewable, energy storage, and low carbon industrial applications.

To further support hydrogen and fuel cell innovation, the DOE’s Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) is partnering with the Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) to develop training modules, including safety and outreach modules, as part of FEMP’s training program. This collaboration will continue to grow FEMP’s diverse offerings of training courses and build on FCTO’s existing outreach efforts to various stakeholders. For example, more than 36,000 emergency responders and code officials have been reached through on-line and in-person trainings. This partnership will allow for broad dissemination of information and increased awareness of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.

All of this points to a hydrogen and fuel cell market that continues to grow rapidly. According to the DOE’s 2015 Fuel Cell Technologies Market Report, many U.S. state efforts during the year focused on encouraging the growth of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) on state roadways, particularly in California, where two commercial FCEVs are available to customers (Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell and Toyota Mirai), as well as the development of hydrogen fueling infrastructure. These efforts, in California, Hawaii, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York, include grant funding for station development and rebates for the purchase of FCEVs.

DOE-supported fuel cell and hydrogen research have helped reduce the cost of transportation fuel cells by 50% since 2007 by quadrupling durability, and reducing the amount of platinum by a factor of five.

—Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy David Friedman


Juan Valdez

Instead of thinking it's either fuel cells or batteries, it looks like fuel-cells will solve the problem big-to-small, while batteries will be solving the problem little-to-big.

Lightweight cars can now go hundreds of miles on costly batteries, but only fuel cells can power cities, ships, large trucks and other larger vehicles. So maybe it's a top-down and bottom up market solution using these two technologies, and they will happily meet in the middle and both technologies will success - that's my bet.

...and kudos to DOE for this type of basic helpful research!!


I agree. There is enough room and requirements for both technologies.

Yes large vehicles, locomotives, ships, long haul large trucks, intercity large buses and other large machines will do better with FCs.

More efficient, lower cost, clean H2 should be developed and distributed.

Batteries will be OK for light shorter run vehicles. Larger, quicker charge facilities should be developed and installed.


Range extended buses could use fuel cells,
no stopping for massive charging during the day.


The scary thing is that this is the first sign of a burgeoning "hydrogen economy" a mere 20-25 years after such a thing was all the rage. This kind of development cycle does not bode well for the achieving of 2050 decarbonisation targets (which are all too unambitious anyway)


A meaningful carbon and liquid fuels tax increase could help? It seems that Canada and NJ will do it?

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