Roll-to-Roll Consortium logo

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office (HFTO) is pleased to highlight a renewed Roll-to-Roll (R2R) Consortium of national laboratories to develop “roll-to-roll” processes that will reduce the cost of manufacturing electrolyzers and fuel cells. The R2R Consortium aims to advance efficient, high-throughput, and high-quality manufacturing processes to accelerate domestic manufacturing and reduce the cost of durable, high-performance fuel cell and electrolyzer systems.

R2R originally launched as a manufacturing consortium in 2016 by DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office in response to feedback from industry stakeholders seeking broad collaboration on a range of clean energy technologies. Now, through Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) funds, R2R will focus exclusively on clean hydrogen.

Along with other BIL-funded efforts to support domestic manufacturing, this consortium represents a key element of the Biden-Harris Administration’s all-of-government approach to accelerating the use of clean hydrogen—as laid out in the U.S. National Clean Hydrogen Strategy and Roadmap and coordinated by the Hydrogen Interagency Task Force.

“Clean hydrogen is an essential and highly versatile tool for achieving the White House’s ambitious climate goals,” said HFTO Deputy Director Nichole Fitzgerald. “This consortium will work hand-in-hand with DOE’s long-standing efforts to develop clean hydrogen technologies by driving U.S. leadership in the cutting-edge manufacturing processes needed to achieve market liftoff.”

The R2R Consortium is funded by BIL provisions 815 and 816 dedicated to advancing electrolysis technologies and improving manufacturing and recycling capabilities for clean hydrogen systems and components and will complement projects selected under HFTO’s funding opportunity Bipartisan Infrastructure Law: Clean Hydrogen Electrolysis, Manufacturing, and Recycling. The R2R Consortium is led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and includes Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), and Sandia National Laboratories (SNL).

High-throughput manufacturing of fuel cells and electrolyzers is critical for supporting market acceleration of clean hydrogen technologies. Roll-to-roll manufacturing can reduce costs by increasing process efficiency and reducing material waste, but there are challenges related to materials synthesis, coating, drying, and quality control that need to be addressed to scale up these processes for industry adoption.

"Our overarching goal is to de-risk and accelerate U.S. manufacturing of high-performance, durable, and low-cost fuel cells and electrolyzers," said Scott Mauger, R2R Consortium director and senior scientist at NREL. “The consortium’s activities will focus on understanding the science of the manufacturing processes themselves to achieve target rates, yields, and product quality.”

The core labs in the R2R Consortium will conduct research, development, and demonstration activities in six topic areas, each led by a lab (listed in parentheses) with existing capabilities and expertise focused in that area. The first three topics address manufacturing challenges that are critical for the growth of the hydrogen industry, and the second three are cross-cutting activities that will integrate with the research on manufacturing challenges:

  • Materials Scale-Up Science (ANL)
  • Fabrication Process Science (SNL)
  • Quality Control (NREL)
  • Characterization (LBNL)
  • Advanced Computing (SNL)
  • Techno-Economic Analysis (NREL).

The consortium plans to support industry efforts through cooperative research and development agreement projects, with more details to be announced in the coming months.

An industrial advisory board will also provide guidance on the consortium’s research objectives and topics and foster engagement between the broader R2R industry and fuel cell and electrolyzer manufacturers and materials suppliers.

R2R activities will also complement the work of other HFTO consortia: Hydrogen from Next-generation Electrolyzers of Water (H2NEW) and Million Mile Fuel Cell Truck (M2FCT). The R2R Consortium will develop processes and pathways to scale up materials and components developed by H2NEW and M2FCT and will work closely with both consortia to ensure relevant metrics, methods, and protocols are used. Together, these efforts will help advance DOE’s H2@Scale vision and the Hydrogen Shot goal of reducing the cost of clean hydrogen to $1 per kilogram by 2031.

Learn more about how the DOE Hydrogen Program and Hydrogen Interagency Task Force are supporting the Biden-Harris Administration’s all-of-government approach to addressing the climate crisis and delivering a clean and equitable energy future for all.