Research

NREL's research accelerates development, integration, and scale up of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies to enable widespread deployment across multiple energy sectors.

Our work helps industry overcome technical challenges and supports the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office and H2@Scale vision for clean hydrogen across multiple applications and economic sectors. We also bridge technologies with other research areas across the lab and through multiple DOE and national lab research initiatives, consortia, and collaborations.

R&D Areas

Research Initiatives, Consortia, and Collaborations

ElectroCat, which includes NREL as a partner, has the goal of accelerating the development of catalysts made without platinum group metals (PGM-free) for use in automotive fuel cell applications. Current state-of-the-art fuel cell systems rely on platinum-based catalysts that make up nearly 50% of the total fuel cell cost.
DOE's H2@Scale is an initiative that brings together stakeholders to advance affordable hydrogen production, transport, storage, and utilization to enable decarbonization and revenue opportunities across multiple sectors.
H2NEW, co-led by NREL, is focused on making large-scale electrolyzers, which produce hydrogen from electricity and water, more durable, efficient, and affordable. H2NEW will address components, materials integration, and manufacturing R&D to overcome technical barriers and enable manufacturable electrolyzers that meet cost, durability, and performance targets, simultaneously, to enable $2/kg hydrogen by 2025.
The DOE HyBlend initiative aims to address technical barriers to blending hydrogen in natural gas pipelines. The HyBlend national laboratory team, led by NREL, is focused on materials compatibility R&D, techno-economic analysis, and life cycle analysis that will inform the development of publicly accessible tools that characterize the opportunities, costs, and risks of blending.
HydroGEN, led by NREL, is addressing advanced water-splitting materials challenges by making unique, world-class national lab capabilities—in photoelectrochemical, solar thermochemical, and low- and high-temperature electrolytic water-splitting—more accessible to academia, industry, and other national labs.
HyMARC, co-led by NREL, provides foundational understanding, synthetic protocols, new characterization tools, and validated computational models to accelerate discovery of solid-phase and liquid materials that meet industry requirements for on-board vehicular hydrogen storage or that can be used as carriers to transport hydrogen from production to city-gate or industrial sites.
M2FCT, which includes NREL as a partner, is working to overcome durability and efficiency challenges in proton exchange membrane fuel cells for heavy-duty applications with an initial focus on long-haul trucks. Commercialization of fuel-cell trucks requires greater efficiency, significantly longer lifetimes, and 4 to 5x improvements in durability.
As part of a roll-to-roll manufacturing multilab collaboration, NREL researchers are accelerating roll-to-roll materials manufacturing for a broad range of energy-, water-, and industry-related technologies to lower costs and improve efficiency.