Hydrogen and Fuel Cells
With regards to chemistry and nanoscience research, NREL focuses on developing materials and components to help enable commercially competitive deployment of hydrogen and hydrogen-powered fuel cell devices in the marketplace.
These activities are funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Fuel Cells Technology Office.
Fuel Cell Research and Development
Our fuel cell R&D activities target improved cost, performance, and durability of fuel cell systems, with a focus on fuel cells for light-duty transportation and vehicles. Our current core and enabling competencies include alkaline membranes, extended surface electrocatalysts, and electrode integration. NREL serves as the electrode layer lead of the Fuel Cell Consortium for Performance and Durability.
Testing and Fabrication
Our fuel cell and electrolysis testing capability is extensive and takes place within the Energy Systems Integration Facility NREL hosts advanced diagnostic test capabilities and the ability to test from small scale (single cm2 cells) to large scale (from 6-kilowatt stacks to 250-kilowatt systems). Additionally, we boast an advanced electrode fabrication capability, which includes multiple automated ultrasonic and electro-spray systems and in-line, roll-to-roll coating capabilities.
We perform R&D in the area of H2 production using multiple routes including photoelectrochemistry (see Solar Fuels), bio-hydrogen, and renewable electrolysis. Activities within the NREL Chemistry and Nanoscience Center focus on photoelectrochemistry and electrolysis.
For H2@Scale, NREL has led a 14-member, cross-national lab effort to highlight the broad value of renewable hydrogen within the energy system and to prioritize the R&D required to effectively achieve a sustainable energy system.
Hydrogen Storage Characterization and Optimization Effort
NREL has had a long history in the area of H2 storage. Our current activities include quantifying storage characteristics of novel materials and helping to achieve DOE's storage targets.
NREL is the laboratory lead in HySCORE, a collaboration between NREL, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and National Institute of Standards and Technology. The objective of HySCORE is to develop and enhance the DOE Fuel Cell Technologies Office hydrogen storage core capabilities and validate claims, concepts, and theories of hydrogen storage materials.
ElectroCat Energy Materials Network
NREL participates as one of four laboratories in the ElectroCat Electrocatalysis Consortium.
HydroGen Energy Materials Network
NREL serves as the lead laboratory for HydroGEN.
We engage in R&D to accelerate the pace and reduce the cost of manufacturing and deploying H2 and fuel cell technologies. Our activities include developing and demonstrating in-line measurement and detection techniques that can be applied to roll-to-roll manufacturing processes, studying the impact of manufacturing defects on device performance and lifetime, and exploring process-performance relationships and scalability in the production of cell materials.
The Chemistry and Nanoscience Center is part of the Materials, Chemical, and Computational Science directorate, led by Associate Laboratory Director Bill Tumas.