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U.S. Department of Energy Awards $100 Million in Fuel Cell R&D
“The Department of Energy is committed to breaking our addiction to oil by creating a diverse portfolio of clean, affordable and domestically produced energy choices,” Secretary Bodman says. “We expect hydrogen to play an integral role in our energy portfolio and we are eager to see hydrogen fuel cell vehicles on the road in the near future.”
DOE will negotiate these 25 cost-shared projects for an approximate total of $127 million ($100 million DOE cost; $27 million applicant cost) over four years (Fiscal Years 2007 – 2010). These projects seek to overcome cost and durability barriers associated with hydrogen fuel cell research; and will specifically focus on fuel cell membranes, water transport within the stack, advanced cathode catalysts and supports, cell hardware, innovative fuel cell concepts, and effects of impurities on fuel cell performance and durability. Awards also include stationary fuel cell demonstration projects to help foster international and intergovernmental partnerships.
Advanced research associated with these awards directly furthers the goals of the President’s Hydrogen Fuel Initiative (HFI), an integral part of the President’s Advanced Energy Initiative. The HFI seeks to make it practical and cost-effective for large numbers of Americans to choose to purchase fuel cell vehicles by 2020. It primarily involves increasing research and development of hydrogen technologies including hydrogen production from diverse domestic sources; hydrogen storage and; polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells. The President’s 2007 budget requests $289 million for the HFI, an increase of $53 million over FY 2006, to accelerate the development of hydrogen fuel cells and affordable hydrogen-powered cars. As a result the President’s investment in this initiative, the cost of a hydrogen fuel cell has been cut by more than 50 percent in just four years.
Fuel cells use hydrogen and oxygen to create electricity, with only water and heat as byproducts.They can power small portable devices and provide heat and electricity to buildings, and they can be used to power vehicles, with two to three times the efficiency of traditional internal combustion technologies. Fuel cells are currently more expensive than internal combustion engines, however, and have difficulty maintaining performance over the full useful life of the system.