DOE Offers $74 Million for Fuel Cell Research and Development
January 12, 2011
In an effort to support the research and development (R&D) of fuel cells for stationary applications such as buildings as well as for transportation, DOE announced on December 22 it is accepting applications for a total of up to $74 million in support of such R&D. Solicitations include up to $65 million over three years to fund continued R&D on fuel cell components, including catalysts and membrane electrode assemblies. The overall goal is to reduce costs, improve durability, and increase efficiency of fuel cell systems. The funding also includes up to $9 million for researchers to conduct independent cost analyses that will assess the progress of current research initiatives and will help guide future fuel cell and hydrogen storage R&D efforts.
Fuel cells use the chemical energy of hydrogen or other fuels to produce electricity or heat with minimal byproducts, primarily water. They can produce power for use in buildings or vehicles such as commercial forklifts, buses, and automobiles. DOE will be funding research and development initiatives related to fuel cell system balance-of-plant components, fuel processors, and fuel cell stack components. The announcement also seeks innovations "with the potential for radical improvements" in fuel cells, with a primary emphasis on new materials, architectures, or modes of fuel cell operation. These concepts for both low- and high-temperature systems will help meet commercial viability targets in terms of cost and performance. Applicants for the DOE program will likely include teams of university, industry, and national laboratory participants. Proposals are due March 3, 2011.
The $9 million cost analysis portion of the funding opportunity will help to determine the economic viability and technical progress of fuel cell and hydrogen technologies for stationary, transportation, and emerging market applications. Among the expected applications are fuel cells for light-duty vehicles, forklifts, buses, and stationary power plants, as well as hydrogen storage systems. Grantees will be expected to conduct life cycle cost analyses for different manufacturing volumes to help gauge the near-term, low-volume market viability for these technologies, along with their long-term potential. Applications for the cost analysis solicitation are due February 18, 2011. See the DOE press release, the requirements on FedConnect cost analysis and fuel cells, and the Fuel Cell Technologies Program Web site.