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U.S. DOE announces nearly $48 MM to advance clean H2 technologies

In support of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $47.7 MM in funding for 16 research, development and demonstration (RD&D) projects across 13 states to advance clean H2 technologies. The selected projects aim to lower technology costs, enhance H2 infrastructure and improve the performance of H2 fuel cells—supporting DOE’s efforts to reduce costs and enable commercial-scale deployment of clean H2, which is a versatile energy resource that can be produced with zero or near-zero emissions.

Together with the Regional Clean H2 Hubs, tax incentives in the President’s historic Inflation Reduction Act, and ongoing RD&D in DOE’s H2 Program, these investments will help DOE realize its H2 Shot goal of reducing the cost of clean H2 to $1/kg within a decade. Accelerating the development of clean H2 and enabling its widespread commercial adoption is critical to creating good-paying jobs and new economic opportunities in communities across the nation while also supporting the Biden-Harris Administration’s ambitious climate and decarbonization goals.

“Making next-generation climate technologies cost-competitive is key to realizing President Biden’s vision of a strong clean energy economy rooted in equity and opportunity,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Today’s announcement will help accelerate DOE’s efforts to advance clean H2, providing the nation another exciting tool to clean up some of our most energy-intensive sectors while revitalizing American manufacturing for decades to come.”

Clean H2 is critical to reducing emissions in some of the hardest-to-decarbonize sectors of the American economy. These sectors include key economic engines that are essential to our economy and quality of life, such as heavy-duty transportation and industrial and chemical processes like steelmaking and fertilizer production. Cutting emissions in these sectors will be especially beneficial for disadvantaged communities that have suffered disproportionately from environmental pollution in the past. Although H2 technologies have come a long way over the last several years, costs and other challenges to at-scale adoption need to be addressed for clean H2 to realize its full potential. 

Managed by DOE’s H2 and Fuel Cell Technologies Office (HFTO), these projects will complement ongoing efforts to reduce the cost of producing clean H2 by focusing on several key areas in the clean H2 value chain, including H2 delivery and storage technologies, as well as affordable and durable fuel cells. Fuel cell RD&D projects will focus particularly on applications for heavy-duty trucks to reduce CO2 emissions and eliminate tailpipe emissions that are harmful to local air quality.

Selected projects include:

  • High performing and durable membrane electrode assembly with novel electrode structures and hydrocarbon proton exchange membranes (Honolulu, Hawaii): Led by the University of Hawaii at Manoa, this project will develop high-performing, durable fuel cells using clean H2. These improvements will support commercial adoption of medium- and heavy-duty fuel cell-powered trucks, which offer a zero-emissions alternative to diesel trucks. The University of Hawaii and the University of California, Merced, a subcontractor on this project, are minority-serving institutions. (Award amount: $4 MM)
  • Solid state based H2 loss recovery during liquid H2 transfer (Golden, Colorado): Led by the Colorado School of Mines, this project will engineer and deploy a system for recovering H2 that “boils off” (and is then released as a gas) during transfers of liquid H2. The target for this prototype system is to capture 80% of the boil off during liquid-H2 Capturing and reusing this H2 will reduce the cost of clean H2 and limit the environmental impact of H2 as an indirect greenhouse gas. (Award amount: $6 MM)
  • Composite liquid-H2 tank for heavy-duty trucks and aircraft (Niskayuna, New York): Led by GE Research, this project will design, manufacture, and test a composite tank capable of carrying 20 kilograms (kg) of liquid H2, using low-cost composite materials and manufacturing approaches. The tank will be scalable to larger capacities—60 kg–120 kg for heavy-truck applications and 200 kg–1000 kg for aircraft applications. High-capacity onboard storage is essential for enabling the use of clean H2 in heavy transportation applications, such as trucks and aircraft. (Award amount: $2.9 MM)
  • Chemical H2 storage media with value-added co-products (Los Angeles, California): Led by the University of Southern California, this project will develop chemicals that can efficiently carry H2 to its point of use, where the H2 is released, and the chemical carrier can then be used for valuable agricultural purposes. The team includes Los Alamos and Brookhaven National Laboratories, as well as California State University, Los Angeles, a minority-serving institution. (Award amount: $1 MM)
  • Enabling formate-based H2 storage and generation via multi-metallic alloy catalysts (Baton Rouge, Louisiana): Led by Louisiana State University, this project will develop a cost-effective approach to storing H2 using chemical carriers. Providing lower-cost, higher-capacity methods for H2 storage will help enable commercial viability of clean H2 in additional applications. (Award amount: $1 MM)