The Fuel Cell Technologies Office focuses on early-stage research and development (R&D) to advance hydrogen and fuel cell technologies for transportation and diverse applications that contribute to U.S. energy independence, security, and resiliency, and add to a strong domestic economy. This page describes how FCTO's funding has enabled significant progress. Also see our Progress in Hydrogen and Fuel Cells fact sheet.
Reducing Cost and Improving Durability and Performance of Fuel Cells
Reduced high volume automotive fuel cell costs by 60% since 2006.1 Cost reductions reflect numerous early stage R&D advances, including a 5x reduction in the platinum content of fuel cell catalysts2 and the development of durable membrane electrode assemblies. Modeled cost is $50/kW when produced at 100,000 units per year.1
Quadrupled fuel cell durability since 2006. Demonstrated more than 4,100 hour (120,000 miles) durability of fuel cell systems in vehicles operating under real-world conditions with only 10% degradation.3
Early Stage Technologies for Producing, Delivering, and Storing Hydrogen
Reduced the cost of dispensed hydrogen. Projected costs of hydrogen production, delivery, and dispensing for 700 bar fueling (assuming high volume production and widespread deployment) have been reduced to ~$5-$7/gge, making it nearly cost competitive with gasoline.4
Reduced the cost of producing hydrogen from renewables. Early stage advancements have reduced the cost of electrolyzers by 80% since 2002.5
Accelerated hydrogen production R&D. Achieved world records in direct photoelectrochemical hydrogen production and screened more than 1,000 materials for thermochemical hydrogen production.6
Launched H2FIRST and developed the world's first HyStEP Device. Through the Hydrogen Fueling Infrastructure Research and Station Technology (H2FIRST) project, a prototype Hydrogen Station Equipment Performance (HyStEP) testing device was developed. The prototype is currently being demonstrated in California, enabling new stations to meet fueling protocol requirements.
Reduced the cost of advanced compressed onboard hydrogen storage systems. High volume cost projection for 700 bar compressed hydrogen storage systems to $15/kWh (a 12% reduction since 2013).7
Lowered cost of stationary hydrogen storage. Advancements in early stage R&D has reduced the cost of 875 bar stationary hydrogen storage by more than 30% since 2011, from $1,450/kg to $1,000/kg through wire wrapped pressure vessels.8
Established hydrogen station analysis tools. Developed the Hydrogen Financial Analysis Scenario Tool (H2FAST),9 an online resource to provide in-depth financial analysis of hydrogen refueling stations, and released the Hydrogen Refueling Station Analysis Model (HRSAM)10 to determine the levelized cost of hydrogen dispensing.
Formed consortia to leverage lab resources for key challenges and to accelerate progress. Activities are aligned with DOE's Energy Materials Network (EMN), and will support the Energy Department's materials research and advanced manufacturing priorities.
Fuel Cell Performance & Durability
Advanced H2 Storage Materials
PGM-Free Catalysts for Fuel Cells
Renewable H2 Production
Safety, Codes and Standards
Developed training materials and trained more than 36,000 first responders and code officials. Training completed through online and in-classroom courses.
Released first-of-its-kind hydrogen resource. Launched H2Tools, a free, online best practices and national hydrogen safety training resource for emergency responders.11
Advanced manufacturing quality control R&D. Developed quality control techniques to detect defects during manufacturing of fundamental fuel cell components.
Achieved more than 6.3 million driving miles. Independently validated more than 200 fuel cell vehicles on the road, including from Daimler, GM, Honda, Hyundai, and Toyota, with a solid track record of performance.12
Validated the durability of fuel cell vehicles to be 4,100 hours. The vehicles are on track to meet the 5,000 hour target (equivalent to 150,000 miles of driving).13
First commercial sale of hydrogen in the United States. Launched the first hydrogen station in the United States to receive the seal of approval for commercial sale of hydrogen fuel in California.
Demonstrated the world's first fuel cell airport GSE fleet. Demonstrated fleet of zero-emissions, hydrogen-powered airport ground support equipment (GSE) trucks with FedEx at the Memphis airport.
Proven field operation for network resilience. Validated the operation of fuel cells for backup power during Hurricane Sandy and in power disruptions across states.
Encouraging Early Stage Applications
Catalyzed fuel cell deployments. Deployed 1,600 early market fuel cell forklifts and backup power units enabling more than 20,000 systems to be deployed or on order by industry without DOE funding.14
Continued commitment to widespread innovation. DOE funding has led to more than 580 patents, 30 technologies in the market, and more than 65 emerging technologies.15
References and Notes
6. J.L. Young, M.A. Steiner, H. Dӧscher, R.M. France, J.A. Turner, and T.G. Deutsch, Nature Energy 2, 17028 (2017)