Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy

Interested in Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies? Help Shape the H2 Refuel H-Prize Competition

March 27, 2014

You are here

Energy 101: Fuel Cell Technology

The Energy Department recently released a new video in its popular Energy 101 series showing how fuel cell technology generates clean electricity from hydrogen to power our buildings and transportation—while emitting nothing but water. This video illustrates the fundamentals of fuel cell technology and its potential to supply our homes, offices, industries, and vehicles with sustainable, reliable energy.

Hydrogen and fuel cell technologies are part of a portfolio of technologies that can provide America’s vehicles, homes, and businesses with clean, reliable, and sustainable energy and help reduce the nation’s overall carbon emissions.

To help accelerate the development and deployment of these technologies, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 authorized the Energy Department- to issue an H-Prize program that competitively awards cash prizes for research, demonstration, and deployment projects which advance the commercial application of hydrogen energy technologies.

In the proposed next H-Prize announcement, the H2 Refuel competition, the winning team will be awarded a $1 million prize for building the best small-scale hydrogen refueler system, which could be used at homes, community centers, or businesses to refuel hydrogen powered vehicles. Infrastructure remains a key barrier to the adoption of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs).  While organizations like H2USA, a public-private partnership launched by DOE and other stakeholders, are committed to advancing hydrogen infrastructure and hydrogen stations, smaller scale solutions to hydrogen delivery and storage can bridge the gap until widespread acceptance takes place.  How will the competition work? Teams will build hydrogen refueling systems that are small enough to be used in a home for overnight fueling of a FCEV, or for multi-user systems that refuel, for example, hydrogen fuel cell forklifts used at facilities such as neighborhood community centers, apartment buildings, a small businesses, or large warehouses. 

These systems would create hydrogen using energy sources commonly delivered to residences such as electricity and/or natural gas. This enables hydrogen to be used in places that either don’t have refueling stations yet, or to simply provide hydrogen for daily driving, while using stations for longer trips.

We’ve talked to experts and stakeholders to develop the guidelines for the H2 Refuel, but to make this competition the best it can be, we need your input before finalizing the rules. Take a look at the draft guidelines and send any feedback or suggestions on how we can improve the competition to For more on the H-Prize, which is administered for the Energy Department by the Hydrogen Education Foundation, visit