Unico expands battery test and EV charging product portfolio with acquisition of Present Power Systems
ARPA-E issues $30M funding opportunity focused on prolonging EV battery life and reducing demand for critical minerals

DOE awarding $10.5M to 3 projects to advance hydrogen combustion engine innovation

The US Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced 27 projects to receive $71 million to develop innovative and equitable clean mobility options, including $10.5 million for three projects focused on research, development, and demonstration of hydrogen combustion engines. These selections are part of a larger $131 million announcement by DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Office centered on boosting the US battery supply chain and supercharging electric vehicle innovation (earlier post) .

Awardees working on hydrogen combustion engine innovation include:

  • PACCAR. Development and demonstration of a heavy-duty hydrogen internal combustion engine.

  • Cummins. Development of a high-efficiency, low emissions, heavy-duty hydrogen internal combustion engine.

  • Powertrain. Development of a high-power, ultra-low emissions, heavy-duty hydrogen engine.

These internal combustion engine projects will support the use of hydrogen in the medium- and heavy-duty (MD/HD) transportation sector, thereby also supporting the use of hydrogen in MD/HD fuel cell vehicles, which have been identified as a key end use for clean hydrogen in the national clean hydrogen strategy.

The national strategy guides the priorities of the Hydrogen Interagency Task Force, which is coordinating a whole-of-government approach to advancing clean hydrogen. These efforts include tax incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act and ongoing research, development, and demonstration to drive down the cost of clean hydrogen and achieve the Hydrogen Shot goal of $1 per kilogram within a decade.



What a waste of financial resources! BMW got wise to these hallucinations some 50 odd years ago and discarded all those ideas as garbage.



I had not realised you were so keen on fuel cells!

As of 30th Jan this year:


' In the coming era of transportation, the focus will be on fast performance, quick refuelling, and eco-friendly options. Hydrogen engines are emerging as a potential game-changer in the automotive industry, aligning with these priorities.

Only a handful of manufacturers are actively developing this technology to lead the way in hydrogen-powered vehicles, and BMW is among them.'

Roger Pham

While Hydrogen may be Ok for big trucks with a lot of internal space for fuel tanks, passenger vehicles would be better off running on biomethane made from waste biomass and green hydrogen from solar and wind.

Using biomethane, the fuel tank volume can be reduced to 1/2 -1/3 of that of H2 tank, and using 250-300 bar pressure instead of 700 bar pressure, so the cost and weight of fuel storage would be a lot less, and far more room for luggage.
The Toyota Mirai can only manage 9.5 Cu Ft of luggage space in comparison to 15 cu ft space for the Camry and 17 cu ft for the Avalon. Previous generation Prius delivered 27 cu ft of luggage space.

Biomethane can be delivered via existing natural gas piping system and thus biomethane filling stations would be everywhere, and compressing to only 250 bar would cost a lot less investment and a lot less energy and more reliability.
You can even fill up your biomethane car at home with a small compressor, analogous to charging your EV at home daily.

In this way, we can decarbonize transportation much faster than waiting for H2 infrastructure to be built and H2-car to be made available. We have no time to waste. GW is wrecking havoc throughout 2023 with severe flooding everywhere costing hundreds of Billions of USD.


UPS is using CNG for their semis, works real well. You can imagine a hybrid running CNG made with biomass and wind and solar hydrogen pretty good future.


CNG and propane have been used for years, especially in jurisdictions where NG is granted tax advantages. It's not a good consumer solution, but many businesses with compatible routes (mostly short-haul and local) choose this option.

I read local predictions that Canada is unlikely to get past single-digit percentages of "green" natural gas in the coming decades, so I'm very weary of betting on biomass until technology improves.

Consumers don't want to handle toxic explosive gases at home, they supposedly don't want to spend 10+ minutes refueling, and they don't want to pay a lot more for the privilege (compared to BEV). It's a non-starter on the home front, but it could be viable in some industries.



It is not just batteries which are improving. Every iteration of fuel cells gets more compact, and the next generation of Toyotas is no exception.

I would support hybrid fuel cells for most folk who don't go on long journeys every day.
A battery pack of around 10KWh can cover day to day, then the hydrogen tank with its swift refills is waiting if you want to go far on a particular day,

Any issues of lower round trip efficiency for hydrogen is then finessed, and the excess weight of very large battery packs avoided.


Toyota has said that the extra expense of H2 hybrid PHEV is uneconomical, even though it may seem appealing. Weight and space are also already impacted but H2 tanks, as Roger notes.

The problem with H2 combustion, as most readers of this site are probably already aware, is efficiency. The poor efficiency of burning H2 rather than using a fuel cell makes an expensive trip more than twice as expensive. In here is no technology in sight that will solve that problem.

Heavy duty trucking seems like a potential application, but fleets are among the most savvy fuel consumers, with the largest arbitraging fuel purchases.

Who thinks any of those guys are going to get on board a system which has no cheap green hydrogen available (compared to fungible cheap electrons) and whose lack of efficiency will always put it at a distinct disadvantage?

The number simply do not work out.


@electric car insider:

What really 'simply does not work out' at least in the case of the UK, and likely although I have less knowledge of the precise details, in Europe and even in the US is the notion that transmission lines can be built to carry the hypothesised increase in electricity from where it is produced, mostly in the North sea, to where it needs to be used.

Scotland, where much of it would come ashore initially, simply is not going to allow so much of their country to be ploughed up to build them, and the opposition within England would be considerable.

Much of the UKs power is via natural gas, burnt very inefficiently in homes, offices etc to provide heat.

To some extent the need to replace it one for one is mitigated by things like residential rooftop solar, better insulation, heat pumps and whatever, but substantially the resource is in the North sea, and massive amounts of new power would have to come from it.

Even at sea, it takes several electric transmission cables to equal the output of one hydrogen pipe.

And to the extent where production is from floating turbines, which increasingly it will have to be, taking it off as hydrogen is the only practical solution. It is also intended to upgrade and hydrogen ready NG pipelines.

Once ashore, hydrogen can then be piped, largely through upgraded NG pipelines, to where it is needed.

So far from being an extra, lossy, step, much of the UK's output is likely to be in hydrogen.

It is also true that there are considerable difficulties in upgrading the US grid to shift renewables to where they are needed, but others are going to follow what is happening there much more closely, so I will leave it to others to give some assessment of the state of play there.

But in the case of the UK, and likely in Europe, there is no practical plan or even realistic possibility of building enough transmission lines to go to the largely electric economy envisaged, as it can't be moved from where it is produced to where it is needed.

Willing the end without the means is a nonsense, and we ain't desecrating our landscape by forcing through the enormous intrusive infrastructure needed.

Nor should we.

Either piped hydrogen or small nuclear is needed to get the power to where it needs to be for an electrified, low carbon economy.


It is difficult to find figures to nail down my claim that the projected increase in transmission lines ain't gonna happen, mainly because proponents simply refer to delays in planning applications, with the assumption that if we force through planning, it is an undoubted good, and pesky people in the way should shut up or be effectively silenced.

So for instance:


Where a massive and increasing shortfall in build of transmission capability is referred to exclusively as a problem in 'streamlining' planning, ie forcing it through.

It reminds me very much of town planners in the 60's desecrating historic European cities, covering them in concrete and destroying walkable neighborhoods in pursuit of the 'undoubted good' of cars and roads everywhere.

Could such a network technically be built? Very likely.

Will it?

No chance, realistically and hopefully in my view.

We have other options which are way less disruptive and destructive.


Realistically relying on purely electric transmission lines is likely to result in ever increasing shortfalls, and missing decarbonisation targets.

The lines simply are not going to be forced through planning at anything like the rate needed.

That is one of the reasons why countries throughout Europe are planning on moving some substantial part of it around using hydrogen.


I’d love to see the successful deployment of any zero emission transportation technology but I believe it is far more likely that cost effective solutions for local electric generation and long distance transmission are developed before green hydrogen production and distribution are accomplished. Certainly it’s a race, may the best solution for consumers win.

Grid scale batteries (including managed charging and V2G) and smart grids, for example, could allow utilities to wring far more capacity out of existing infrastructure.

Conceptually, it’s like switched telco vs packet. There’s a point at which switched was just not going to be able to compete so packet, even for real time voice, was a fait accompli.

Whether you knew that early or not depended on where you were invested, and how familiar you were with the advantages of packet, despite the early limitations.

“Ship bits not atoms” - Nicolas Negroponte, MIT Media Lab


BTW Toyota not offering a plug in hybrid FCEV is certainly not due to any technical difficulty, as all FCEVs are hybrids in any case, with around a 1KWh battery on board.
So even taking into account packaging constraints, their RAV4 could be offered as a PHEV.

They don't do so because they were trying, so far unsuccessfully, to encourage the provision of hydrogen refuelling infrastructure, and if folk are rarely topping up it would not help.

That is now changing with the emphasis on hydrogen for freight transport, and Stellantis is to offer a whole range of FCEV commercial vehicles, with firm plans and funding in place throughout Europe, China etc for an adequate hydrogen infrastructure.

They are plug ins:


' All of these vans comprise of a fuel cell capable of holding up to 4.4kg of hydrogen, a 10.5kWh lithium-ion battery pack that can be charged through a plug, and an electric motor that produces 100kW of power and 260Nm of torque.

Peugeot, Citroen and Opel all claim their hydrogen tanks can be refuelled in three minutes and can provide a driving range of almost 350km using the WLTP test standard.

In certain conditions, these vans can be purely driven on all-electric power as a backup and can provide a driving range of up to 50km on the WLTP cycle.'

My view is that this configuration will be more useful in private vehicles than vans as commercially most will normally travel too far for the battery pack most days,.

Toyota could certainly build equivalents whenever it chooses, technically.


Davemart, don't forget that electric transmission lines are also evolving. I don't mean to use Quebec as an example every time, but they are at the forefront of innovation for practical reasons (most of the hydroelectric potential being thousands of kilometres north of population centres). Higher voltages and even DC are used to increase power capacity on existing lines.
Also, the grid has never stopped evolving. Fifty years ago, you would have bet that air conditioning wasn't possible with the then-current grid. Maybe it wasn't then, but those issues have been resolved since. Millions and millions of homes have been built with AC, or had AC retrofits, and yet the grid hasn't self-imploded. If anything, it's more reliable now than ever. EV charging is a lesser challenge, and it happens to tie-in nicely with HVAC usage patterns.


I agree, Davemart, that there are use cases for light duty H2 PHEV, only pointing out that Toyota has said they won’t produce them. Not a technical limitation, they see a product market fit problem, mostly that it devastates the financial case for H2 refueling infrastructure, which is already challenged.

Increased battery energy density, solving both BEV vehicle weight and cost disadvantages, and smart grids, where vehicle batteries are part of the grid solution technically and financially, will render gasoline and H2 obsolete.

When utilities will pay consumers a couple hundred dollars a month to leave their cars plugged in when not driving, the economics of EV ownership are changed completely, and nothing else will be able to compete.

If this sounds preposterous, talk to the folks developing V2G.

They tell me they will pay a couple hundred dollars per month. Tesla Powerwall owners are already getting payouts on the SF Bay Area. It’s not too far off.


Hi electric car insider.

Folk here mostly imagine that I am an enthusiast for fuel cell cars.

I ain't.

What I am an enthusiast for is small and light, correctly specced for typical usage.

Which means that I am no lover of massively heavy BEVs, accelerating lethally fast in urban environments with copious amounts of particles from tyre shredding.

Whilst it is true that in GHG terms that is an improvement on gas guzzlers, it substantially wastes the improvement in technology.

If massively heavy SUVs are the only way to go, then FCEVs do a better job than batteries, at a somewhat less absurd weight.

But I am no fan, although I do support the use of hydrogen for lots of other things, and FCEVs perhaps can be engineered to support smallish cars, as of course can batteries.



I dunno if you happen to read French, unfortunately it does not seem that many English reporters do, as for instance the Guardian is claiming that the new charges in Paris for big and heavy vehicles will not apply to BEVs.

Here is what they are actually doing:


' La mesure de triplement de stationnement concernera «les propriétaires d'un véhicule thermique ou hybride rechargeable de 1,6 tonne ou plus» - soit le seuil auquel a été abaissé le malus au poids du gouvernement au 1er janvier 2024 - et «les propriétaires d'un véhicule électrique de 2 tonnes ou plus», précise la mairie de Paris. En ce qui concerne les amendes, les tarifs des forfaits post-stationnement (FPS), infligés pour absence ou insuffisance de paiement, elles vont aussi tripler.'

IOW there are limits for BEVs, but they are cut some slack relative to ICE and hybrids, which seems to me to be the right balance, as undoubtedly in many GHG and pollution aspects they are far preferable.

That should not be a free pass for being fat and heavy to an unlimited extent, although critics may claim that my moral position in those aspects is unself reflective! ;-)



IOW The Model 3 should be fine to escape the new charges in Paris, the Model S is in trouble at over 2 tons.


eci said:

' Heavy duty trucking seems like a potential application, but fleets are among the most savvy fuel consumers, with the largest arbitraging fuel purchases.

Who thinks any of those guys are going to get on board a system which has no cheap green hydrogen available (compared to fungible cheap electrons) and whose lack of efficiency will always put it at a distinct disadvantage?'

The answer is: 'All of them' with the exceptions of the VW group who are as usual centrally directing things, and just as they did with 'clean diesel' regardless of the evidence, and Tesla, who are hopeful, not current, mass truck producers,

And something of the order of 1000 new hydrogen filling stations are going in in China,.

So if you really want to know the answer to your question, just about everyone who is responsible for professional heavy transport is going for the solution you apparently think you are in a position to definitively rule out.


DM> “I am no lover of massively heavy BEVs, accelerating lethally fast in urban environments with copious amounts of particles from tyre shredding.”

We are certainly in agreement on these points. Improved battery energy density solves two of the three, and unreasonable performance capability is a policy problem. (SUVs, at least in the US, are almost entirely a creation of bad tax and emissions policy).

The Toyota Mirai is just 70-400 pounds lighter than the Toyota 4Runner (depending on configuration of each) with very little opportunity for light-weighting vs BEVs, which have been on an inexorable path to dramatically lighter weight for decades (including step changes in battery chemistry e.g lead, nickel, lithium). Lithium silicon, lithium sulfur, lithium metal/air all have the capability to extend this success streak.

I publish a commercial vehicle buyers guide for fleet managers, and organize commercial vehicle demos at places like SunTrax, so I actually do have a little bit of insight on the market, from both the OEM and fleet points of view, mostly by listening closely to what the producers and consumers are telling me.

OEMs are producing FCEVs and who knows, they may succeed. But the physics and economics make it a steep haul uphill.


Hi eci,

Well, without wishing to be unduly combative, I find your remarks about who is going to think that hydrogen is the right solution for long distance heavy trucking even stranger than I did initially in view of your contacts.

We are not talking about short haul and lighter loads, as universally they are moving to a battery solution there.

Nor are we talking about fleet managers as such, as they don't do the development, but they do work closely with the developers and producers, and are very, very emphatic in telling them what they will and will not accepts and their requirements,

So for long distance heavy transport the companies who work hand in glove with their customers and see hydrogen as the right solution include off the top of my head Kenworth, Daimler, Volvo, Toyota, Hyundai and the Chinese brands who build most of the heavy trucks in the world.

Simply dismissing the folk with the most expert opinion is, in view of your contacts, even more outre,.

Maybe they know something about heavy freight and building transport for it?


Just out of interest I checked the weights of the Toyota Mirai and the Hyundai Nexo fuel cell cars, and they both come in at under 2 tons, and so don't get Paris's extra parking charges.
I would imagine, and reading for instance the French newspapers, there is good reason to believe, that many other municipalities will follow Paris's lead.

Incidentally Hidalgo has done a superb job in my view, in pedestrianising and freeing up for bicycles that major European city.

Who knew the French could do urban planning? ;-)


I have absolutely nothing against using better batteries as and when they become available, and the charging profile is an acceptable fit to low carbon electric output.

But simply ploking in batteries often at large subsidised cost where they are inadequate on the grounds that someday they will improve is not sensible.

And other technologies are not static, in fact fuel cells as earlier on the curve of production volume and development are improving faster than batteries.

Sure, solid state batteries may be got working, at good cost, and will greatly improve the performance envelope, and I welcome that.

But they are at a roughly ( very roughly! ) similar stage to HT PEM fuel cells, which would have an equally transformative effect on fuel cells, including not only land transport but aviation.

And even without that each generation of fuel cells is lighter and more compact than the previous.


ECI said:

' The Toyota Mirai is just 70-400 pounds lighter than the Toyota 4Runner (depending on configuration of each) with very little opportunity for light-weighting vs BEVs'

I have no idea how you reached that conclusion, which AFAIK bears no resemblance to the facts, other than the choices made in the particular move from the 4Runner to the Mirai. There are always trade offs.

And for bigger vehicles, the CF tank in the Mirai holds around 5kgs of hydrogen, and weighs around 85kg or so.
Since they are in cylinder form, if you increase the volume but hold pressure etc constant, then you can easily increase the fuel to 6, 7 or 8 kgs.

Each kg of hydrogen holds around 33KWh of energy, so even with losses converting it to electicity, and in colder places the 'free' use of waste heat should not be discounted, it is incomparable in energy density to batteries.

So for instance the ludicrous Rivian would, if you have to have a vehicle that size, come in far lighter.

And many, many super lightweight FCEVs have been built, although of course none commercially as yet, in some substantial part due to lack of refuelling infrastructure.


I posted too hastily. I meant to remark that an increase in the volume held by the cylinders leads to a very much lower increase in weight, whilst for batteries not only do you have a straight line increase, but lugging that extra weight means still more, still heavier, batteries.


The continuing improvement in battery energy density is the thing that moves BEVs into an unassailable competitive position. If you don’t believe that trend line will continue into the future, place your bets on H2. But you also have to simultaneously believe that the FCV developers will solve their myriad of vastly more difficult problems, despite their lackluster track record.

If Toyota had succeeded with the Mirai, that point of view might have some justification for confidence. But look at the sales volumes of FCVs vs BEVs, and more vexingly, the resale values as these vehicles come off lease. There’s no way to consider this a success.

The question is, what is so different about the long haul trucking market and do those differences bode well for H2 success? Most of the fundamental challenges remain the same.

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