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NREL To Lead New Lab Consortium To Enable Low-Cost Electrolyzers for Hydrogen Production

Oct. 8, 2020

Today, on National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) announced up to $100 million, subject to appropriations, for two new national laboratory consortia to advance hydrogen production and fuel cell technologies research and development (R&D) in support of EERE's H2@Scale vision.

The EERE Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office is leading the H2@Scale initiative to advance affordable hydrogen production, transport, storage, distribution, and utilization in multiple energy sectors.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Idaho National Laboratory (INL) will co-lead the H2NEW consortium, which will conduct R&D to enable large-scale manufacturing of affordable electrolyzers that use electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. H2NEW also includes Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), and the National Energy Technology Laboratory, and will be funded at $50 million over 5 years.

"Improving the cost competitiveness of hydrogen produced by electrolysis is a critical barrier for advancing the H2@Scale vision," said Senior Research Fellow and H2NEW Director Bryan Pivovar. "H2NEW will leverage experimental, analytical, and modeling capabilities across multiple national labs to advance both low- and high-temperature electrolysis technologies and enable hydrogen production at $2/kg." 

H2NEW will focus on materials and component integration, manufacturing, and scale-up to help support large industry deployment of durable, efficient, and low-cost electrolyzers for hydrogen production. In addition to directing H2NEW's low-temperature electrolysis activities, NREL will conduct cell modeling and characterization, scale-up and integration studies, membrane studies, and analysis. 

The Million Mile Fuel Cell Truck (M2FCT) consortium will conduct R&D to accelerate development of fuel cells for heavy-duty vehicle applications, including long-haul trucks. M2FCT is co-led by LBNL and LANL and includes Brookhaven National Laboratory, PNNL, ANL, ORNL, and NREL, and will be funded at $50 million over 5 years. M2FCT will develop integrated fuel cell membrane electrode assemblies for heavy-duty fuel cell trucks that can meet all of the efficiency, durability, and cost requirements of the trucking industry.

Through existing and future funding opportunity announcements and lab partnership agreements, the national labs will work together with industry and academia to improve the cost, durability, and distribution of these technologies to realize their full potential.

DOE also renewed funding for two existing Energy Materials Network consortia focused on accelerating development of less mature materials and technologies to complement the work of H2NEW and M2FCT.

  • The HydroGEN Advanced Water Splitting Materials consortium will be funded at $12 million over 3 years to overcome critical materials challenges and accelerate the time to market for advanced water splitting technologies that can enable clean, low-cost, and sustainable hydrogen production. HydroGEN is led by NREL and includes LBNL, Sandia National Laboratories, INL, and LLNL.
  • The Electrocatalysis (ElectroCat) consortium will be funded at $9 million over 3 years to accelerate development of durable, low-cost platinum-group-metal-free electrocatalysts and electrodes for heavy-duty fuel cell and low-temperature electrolysis applications. ElectroCat is led by ANL and includes LANL, NREL, and ORNL.

NREL is focused on addressing the major technical challenges that, once overcome, will help enable low-cost, clean hydrogen production and heavy-duty fuel cell transportation, both key elements of the H2@Scale vision. Through these consortia, NREL will continue to expand its capabilities in these areas and work with industry partners to accelerate these technologies to market.

"NREL’s capabilities have steadily grown in these areas over the last 10 years in concert with our industry partners, leading us to this point of technical leadership," said Keith Wipke, the laboratory program manager for fuel cells and hydrogen technologies at NREL. "This critical research is paving the way for success in energy systems-level initiatives such as the Advanced Research on Integrated Energy Systems (ARIES) research program and growing industry partnerships."

Read the EERE announcement or learn more about NREL's hydrogen and fuel cell research.