Energy Department Awards More Than $7 Million for Innovative Hydrogen Storage Technologies in Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles

December 12, 2011

The U.S. Department of Energy today announced more than $7 million to fund four projects in California, Washington, and Oregon to advance hydrogen storage technologies to be used in fuel cell electric vehicles. The 3-year projects will help lower the costs and increase the performance of hydrogen storage systems by developing innovative materials and advanced tanks for efficient and safe transportation. These investments are a part of the Department's commitment to U.S. leadership in advanced fuel cell technology research to help domestic automakers bring more fuel cell electric vehicles into the mainstream market.

"Targeted investments in cutting-edge hydrogen storage technologies will spur American ingenuity, accelerate breakthroughs, and increase our competitiveness in the global clean energy economy," said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "As we focus on energy security, strengthening our portfolio to include domestically-produced hydrogen and American-made fuel cells for transportation and energy storage applications will create new jobs and reduce carbon pollution."

The Energy Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is providing more than $7 million to the selected organizations, which are in turn providing close to $2 million in cost share. The projects focus on lowering the cost of compressed hydrogen storage systems and developing advanced materials for hydrogen storage. Compressed hydrogen storage provides a near-term pathway to commercialization, and reducing the costs of compressed tank systems will accelerate their market availability and adoption. Advanced materials-based hydrogen storage technologies will enable more efficient storage at lower pressures than current compressed hydrogen tanks.

As part of DOE's portfolio of zero-emission electric vehicle technologies that reduce dependence on foreign oil, the innovations achieved through these projects will address technical barriers to storing hydrogen onboard fuel cell electric vehicles. The research may also advance energy storage applications that could enable more efficient use of renewable energy sources like wind and solar power.

The four projects selected for award are:

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory – Richland, Washington – Up to $2.1 million

DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, in collaboration with Ford Motor Company, Lincoln Composites, Toray Carbon Fibers America, Inc. and AOC Inc., will use a coordinated approach to reduce the costs associated with compressed hydrogen storage systems. The project will focus on improving carbon fiber composite materials and the design and manufacture of hydrogen storage tanks. Through these advances, the team expects to lower the cost of manufacturing high-pressure hydrogen storage vessels by more than a third relative to current projections.

HRL Laboratories, LLC – Malibu, California – Up to $1.2 million

HRL Laboratories will investigate an innovative approach to hydrogen storage using engineered liquids that can efficiently absorb and release hydrogen gas. Liquids confined in porous structures have been shown to absorb significantly more gas and could create sites for hydrogen molecules that did not exist in the bulk liquid alone. HRL will use this concept to develop composite materials capable of dissolving up to 50 times greater quantities of hydrogen than in the bulk liquid, with the goal of enabling a high density, compact hydrogen storage option.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory – Berkeley, California – Up to $2.1 million

DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, partnering with the National Institute of Standards and Technology and General Motors, will use a theory-guided approach to synthesize novel materials with high hydrogen adsorption capacities. The team will develop and test "metal-organic framework" materials that have surfaces allowing high density of hydrogen, as well as materials with pores engineered to enable hydrogen storage at near-ambient temperatures.

University of Oregon – Eugene, Oregon – Up to $2.0 million

The University of Oregon, along with The University of Alabama, DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Protonex Technology Corporation, will develop and test promising new materials for hydrogen storage. The proposed chemical hydrogen storage materials could enable liquid refueling, and regeneration of the hydrogen storage material, within temperature and pressure ranges suitable for both onboard mobile and stationary fuel cell applications.

DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy invests in clean energy technologies that strengthen the economy, protect the environment, and reduce dependence on foreign oil. Find out more about DOE's support of research, development and deployment of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.