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Leveraging National Laboratories to Support H2USA

April 30, 2014 - 11:58am

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A fuel cell vehicle is refueled with hydrogen at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s National Wind Technology Center. | Photo by Dennis Schroeder, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

A fuel cell vehicle is refueled with hydrogen at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s National Wind Technology Center. | Photo by Dennis Schroeder, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Fuel cell technologies provide vehicles, homes, and businesses throughout the country with clean, quiet, reliable power. This technology can generate electricity from hydrogen while emitting nothing but water and a little heat.  Since automakers have announced that new fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) will be on the road soon, it’s critical that hydrogen infrastructure is in place so drivers can quickly and easily refuel.

To help solve the infrastructure challenge, in 2013 the Energy Department co-launched H2USA, a public private partnership focused on the widespread commercial adoption of FCEVs.  To support H2USA, the Energy Department’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) established the Hydrogen Fueling Infrastructure Research and Station Technology (H2FIRST) project, a unique collaborative effort between Sandia National Laboratories and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

H2FIRST aims to:

  • Provide world-class technical facilities to demonstrate hydrogen refueling technologies and infrastructure
  • Reduce the cost and time of new fueling station construction and improve the stations’ availability and reliability

Two research facilities, Sandia’s Center for Infrastructure Research and Innovation (CIRI) in California and NREL’s Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) in Colorado, will serve as hubs for H2FIRST to help achieve its goals. CIRI researchers will develop and test innovative infrastructure technologies to accelerate market readiness, drawing upon Sandia’s broader hydrogen program, while researchers at ESIF will work on overcoming challenges related to the interconnection of distributed energy systems and the integration of renewable energy technologies into the electricity grid.

This is an example of both legacy and emerging core capabilities at the Energy Department’s National Laboratories that can be leveraged to tackle a specific and urgent problem faced by industry.  This work will identify and accelerate near-term solutions that will help industry address the challenges of hydrogen infrastructure and FCTO looks forward to strong state agency collaboration in California, which has already pledged funding for 100 hydrogen stations within the decade.  Learn more about H2FIRST and the Energy Department’s fuel cell work.

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