U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Fuel Cell Technologies Office

Fuel Cell Technologies Office Newsletter: July 2012

The July 2012 issue of the Fuel Cell Technologies Office newsletter includes stories in these categories:

In the News

Energy Department Invests in Advancing Hydrogen Infrastructure and Fueling Technologies

As part of the Energy Department's commitment to give American businesses more options to cut energy costs and reduce reliance on imported oil, on July 18 the Department announced a $2.4 million investment to collect and analyze performance data for hydrogen fueling stations and advanced refueling components. The five projects—located in California, Illinois, and Connecticut—will track the performance and technical progress of innovative refueling systems at planned or existing hydrogen fueling stations to find ways to lower costs and improve operation. These investments are part of the Department's commitment to support U.S. leadership in advanced hydrogen and fuel cell research and help industry bring hydrogen technologies into the marketplace at lower cost.

"As part of an all-of-the-above strategy to deploy every available source of American energy, the Energy Department is committed to advancing fuel cell technologies and supporting innovative technologies that diversify our nation's transportation sector and reduce our dependence on imported oil," said Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy David Danielson. "The investments made today will support American manufacturing competitiveness in the next generation of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, driving more efficient designs and new component development."

Fuel Cell Technologies Project Wins R&D 100 Award for 2012

Researchers at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) funded by the Department of Energy's Fuel Cell Technologies Office have won one of only 100 awards given out this year by R&D Magazine for the most outstanding technology developments with promising commercial potential. The Energy Department announced that it received a total of 36 awards across all of its research and development programs, including EERE which won 12. BNL's project focuses on platinum monolayer electrocatalysts for fuel cell cathodes. Platinum is the most efficient electrocatalyst for fuel cells, but conventional platinum-based catalysts are expensive and durability is a major challenge. The new electrocatalysts have high activity, stability, and durability, while containing only about one-tenth the platinum of conventional catalysts used in fuel cells, significantly reducing overall costs.

Hydrogen Production Projects Awarded DOE Small Business Research and Development Grants

As part of President Obama's broad efforts to support American small businesses and help advance cutting-edge clean energy innovations, the Energy Department awarded new funding to small businesses nationwide, including two hydrogen production projects, Arbsource of Tempe, Arizona, and Proton OnSite of Wallingford, Connecticut.

"Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, employing half of all workers in America and creating two out of every three new jobs in the U.S.," said Secretary Chu. "Bringing these innovative technologies to market is just the latest step in the Energy Department's efforts to support the critical role that small businesses are playing in creating jobs for American workers and expanding our country's clean energy economy. These businesses are helping to reduce our dependence on imported oil and protect our air and water, while ensuring that the United States leads in the global clean energy race."

Check out our events calendar to see a listing of our upcoming events.

Funding Opportunities

Upcoming SBIR Awards

Look for SBIR Release 2 Topics in October.

Current Funding Opportunity Announcements are posted on the FCT financial opportunities website.

Webinars and Workshops

DOE Webinar July 17: Fuel Cells for Portable Power

The Energy Department presented a live webcast titled "Fuel Cells for Portable Power" on Tuesday, July 17, 2012. This webinar focused on recent R&D advancements in direct methanol fuels and their use in portable power. Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory discussed advanced materials and the development of new methanol oxidation catalysts, hydrocarbon membranes with reduced methanol crossover, and improvements to component durability. Researchers at the University of North Florida focused on a "passive-water recovery" MEA, which eliminates the water recovery components, and results in a small, lightweight DMFC power supply. Finally, researchers at Arkema presented their polymer electrolyte membrane design for direct methanol fuels which blends poly(vinylidene fluoride) with a sulfonated polyelectrolyte. Slides and a recording of the webinar are available.

Upcoming DOE Webinar August 14: Material Characterization of Storage Vessels for Fuel Cell Forklifts

The Energy Department will present a live webinar entitled "Material Characterization of Storage Vessels for Fuel Cell Forklifts" on Tuesday, August 14 from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. This webinar will focus on the results of a study conducted by Sandia National Laboratories that investigated the fatigue life of steel pressure vessels, commonly used for the transport of pressurized gases, including gaseous hydrogen. By subjecting vessels to pressure cycles with gaseous hydrogen between nominal pressure of 3 and 44 MPa and simulating manufacturing defects to initiate failure after a relatively low number of cycles, Sandia was able to analyze life-cycle performance and create new design rules for hydrogen service incorporated into the CSA HPIT1 draft standard. Additionally, the experimental methodologies are being incorporated in SAE J2579. This webinar will describe how the DOE-EERE funded Hydrogen Safety, Codes and Standards Program was able to provide timely resources for this critical research topic. Register to attend this webinar.

Upcoming Webinars

Winners of the Hydrogen Student Design Contest – September 4

JOBS and economic impacts of Fuel Cells (JOBS FC) Analysis Model Status – October 9

Visit our website to see webinar archives or workshop presentations.

Studies, Reports, and Publications

National Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle Learning Demonstration Final Report

The Energy Department recently released the final report from the National Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle Learning Demonstration, a technology validation project that collected data from more than 180 fuel cell electric vehicles. Over six years, these vehicles made more than 500,000 trips and traveled 3.6 million miles, completing more than 33,000 fill-ups at hydrogen fueling stations across the country. The project found that these vehicles achieved more than twice the efficiency of today's gasoline vehicles with refueling times of five minutes for four kilograms of hydrogen.

Visit our website to access technical information about hydrogen and fuel cells. This information is provided in documents such as technical and project reports, conference proceedings and journal articles, technical presentations, and links to other websites.

National Laboratory and Principal Investigator Achievements

On July 23, President Obama named 96 researchers as recipients of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers. Among those listed was Thomas Francisco Jaramillo of Stanford University who was recognized for his innovations in solar hydrogen production, including using quantum confinement in molybdenum-disulfide nanoparticles to enhance catalytic reactivity, for incorporating these catalysts into high-surface-area scaffolds, and for excellence in mentoring at the university level. This is the first PECASE award presented to a researcher funded by DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

"Discoveries in science and technology not only strengthen our economy, they inspire us as a people," President Obama said. "The impressive accomplishments of today's awardees so early in their careers promise even greater advances in the years ahead."