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Regional Technical Exchange Centers Connect Fuel Cell Technology Suppliers, Manufacturers

July 27, 2017

The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is leading one of four regional technical exchange centers to expand the domestic supply chain of fuel cell and hydrogen components and systems and improve U.S. manufacturing competitiveness.

The Mountain Region Technical Exchange Center is part of an integrated network of technical exchange centers (TECs) supported by DOE's Fuel Cell Technologies Office in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The other regional TECs are the East Coast Region led by the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology, Midwest Region led by the Ohio Fuel Cell Coalition, and West Coast Region led by the University of California, Irvine.

"Our goal is to increase communication and promote interaction between hydrogen and fuel cell component suppliers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs)," said Melanie Caton, a project leader at NREL and manager of the Rocky Mountain Region TEC. "Developing a robust domestic supply chain will help reduce manufacturing costs, accelerate mass production, and improve performance and durability of these systems."

Composite tanks for storing compressed hydrogen onboard a fuel cell electric vehicle.

The hydrogen and fuel cell technology supply chain includes tanks used to store hydrogen onboard a fuel cell electric vehicle. Photo by Dennis Schroeder, NREL

The regional TECs help identify and evaluate potential suppliers and gaps in the supply chain, collect and catalog non-proprietary product information from regional suppliers and OEMs, maintain supplier contact lists to introduce OEMs to suppliers, and hold annual supply chain exchanges. Coordinating with suppliers in the emerging technology area of hydrogen and fuel cells also helps identify issues and guides early-stage research and development to further reduce cost and improve performance.

Each regional TEC in turn contributes data to the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Nexus, an online national business-to-business directory that connects supplier capabilities and integrator needs and specifications.

NREL is working with the Colorado Hydrogen Coalition (CHC), Colorado Cleantech Industries Association (CCIA), and the Colorado Advanced Manufacturing Alliance (CAMA) to collect supplier data through the Mountain Region Hydrogen Supply Chain Database.

NREL, CHC, CCIA, and CAMA will host the first Cleantech Manufacturing Forum on Aug. 17 at the Vehicle Vault in Parker. This forum is tailored to the Rocky Mountain region of manufacturers and suppliers for the clean energy technology industry. The event will kick off with an opportunity for participants to drive fuel cell and battery electric vehicles followed by transportation and electric grid panel discussions convening energy business leaders with new opportunities for manufacturers and suppliers in clean energy. A business-to-business networking session and reception will follow. Register to attend.

There will also be a national supply chain exchange event in November at the 2017 Fuel Cell Seminar in Long Beach, Calif.

Learn more about NREL's hydrogen and fuel cell research.