The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced last Wednesday that it is accepting applications for a total of up to $74 million to support the research and development (R&D) of clean, reliable fuel cells for stationary and transportation applications. The solicitations include up to $65 million over three years to fund continued R&D on fuel cell components, such as catalysts and membrane electrode assemblies, with the goal of reducing costs, improving durability, and increasing the efficiency of fuel cell systems. The funding also includes up to $9 million to conduct independent cost analyses that will assess the progress of the technology under current research initiatives and help guide future fuel cell and hydrogen storage R&D efforts. These awards will help support U.S. leadership in the emerging global fuel cell market, while limiting greenhouse gas emissions and reducing the country’s reliance on fossil fuels.
"The investments we’re making today will help advance fuel cell technology in the United States," said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "This is part of a broad effort to create American jobs, reduce carbon pollution and help ensure the U.S. stays competitive in the growing clean energy economy."
Fuel cells use the chemical energy of hydrogen or other fuels to cleanly and efficiently produce electricity or heat with minimal byproducts, primarily water. They can produce power in large stationary systems such as buildings or for vehicles such as commercial forklifts, buses and automobiles.
The DOE will be funding research and development initiatives related to fuel cell system balance-of-plant components, fuel processors, and fuel cell stack components such as catalysts and membranes, as well as innovative concepts for both low and high temperature systems to help meet commercial viability targets in terms of cost and performance. Applicants will likely include teams of university, industry and national laboratory participants.
The cost analysis 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, including light duty vehicles, forklifts, buses and stationary power plants, as well as hydrogen storage systems. Under the program, the 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 $65 million R&D program are due by March 3, 2011. Applications for the cost analysis solicitation are due on February 18, 2011. Funding for both programs are subject to congressional appropriations. More information and application requirements and instructions can be found here.
The Fuel Cell Technologies Program has a comprehensive portfolio of activities that address the full range of barriers facing the development and deployment of hydrogen and fuel cells with the ultimate goals of decreasing U.S. dependence on oil, reducing carbon emissions, and enabling clean, reliable power generation.