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Department of Energy Announces $64 Million in Hydrogen Research & Development Projects

May 25, 2005 - 12:55pm


WASHINGTON, DC - Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman today announced the selection of over $64 million in research and development projects aimed at making hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and refueling stations available, practical and affordable for American consumers by 2020.

"Since President Bush first laid out his vision for a hydrogen economy, we've witnessed incredible innovation and tremendous advancement," Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman said.   "We hope that through our ingenuity, investment and effort, hydrogen vehicles will someday be as commonplace as the cars we drive today."

A total of 70 hydrogen research projects have been selected to focus on fundamental science and enable revolutionary breakthroughs in hydrogen production, and storage in addition to new fuel cell technologies.    Participants in the projects include more than 50 research organizations in 25 states.  The organizations include academic institutions, industry, and national laboratories (see attached list).

The initiatives announced today are part of a comprehensive, balanced portfolio of basic and applied research, technology development, and learning demonstration projects aimed to significantly advance President Bush's Hydrogen Fuel Initiative. The projects were selected through an open, merit-reviewed, competitive solicitation process.   A total of $64 million over three years will be provided by the Department to these entities, subject to Congressional appropriations. 

The following projects address the five technical focus areas identified during the Department of Energy's May, 2003 workshop on "Basic Research Needs for the Hydrogen Economy":

Novel Materials for Hydrogen Storage (17 projects, $19.8 million over three years)
On-board hydrogen storage has been identified by both the National Academy Sciences and the DOE as a key technology for the successful implementation of a hydrogen economy. However, significant scientific challenges remain, highlighting the need for further basic research.   Within the hydrogen storage topic, 17 projects will be awarded to10 universities and 6 national laboratories.  A broad range of research in hydrogen storage is covered by these selected projects, including complex hydrides; nanostructured and novel materials; theory, modeling, and simulation; and state-of-the-art analytical and characterization tools to develop novel storage materials and methods. 

Membranes for Separation, Purification, and Ion Transport (16 projects, $12.3 million over three years)
Novel membranes are needed to selectively transport atomic, molecular, or ionic hydrogen and oxygen for hydrogen production and fuel cell applications.   The 16 projects selected, which include 13 universities and 3 national laboratories, address integrated nanoscale architectures; fuel cell membranes; and theory, modeling, and simulation of membranes and fuel cells. 

Catalyst Design at the Nanoscale (18 projects, $15.8 million over three years)
Catalysis plays a vital role in hydrogen production, storage and use.   Specifically, catalysts are needed for converting solar energy to chemical energy, producing hydrogen from water or carbon-containing fuels such as coal and biomass, increasing efficiency in hydrogen storage kinetics, and producing electricity from hydrogen in fuel cells.  Nanoscale catalyst designs will be explored through18 projects involving 12 universities and 5 national laboratories. Research areas include innovative synthetic techniques; novel characterization techniques; and theory, modeling, and simulation of catalytic pathways. 

Solar Hydrogen Production (13 projects, $10 million over three years)
Efficient and cost-effective conversion of sunlight to hydrogen by splitting water is a major enabling technology for a viable hydrogen economy.   Hydrogen production via solar energy conversion will be studied through 13 projects at 8 universities, 1 industry company, and 3 national laboratories.  The projects address nanoscale structures; organic semiconductors and other high performance materials; and theory, modeling, and simulation of photochemical processes. 

Bio-inspired Materials and Processes (6 projects, $7 million over three years)
Fundamental research into the molecular mechanisms underlying biological hydrogen production is the key to our ability to adapt, exploit, and extend what nature has accomplished for our own renewable energy needs.   Bio-inspired materials and processes for hydrogen production will be investigated through 6 projects at 5 universities and 1 national laboratory. Research includes enzyme catalysis; bio-hybrid energy coupled systems; and theory, modeling, and nanostructure design.

A list of selected projects

Media contacts:
Mike Waldron, 202/586-4940
Tom Welch, 202/586-5806