The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced it will provide up to $100 million over four years for research projects aimed at advancing hydrogen fuel cells. The research projects will seek to improve fuel cell membranes and water transport within the fuel cell stack while minimizing the effects of impurities on fuel cell performance and durability.
The research projects also will develop new fuel cell hardware, innovative fuel cell concepts, and advanced cathode catalysts and supports. Through this investment, DOE seeks to improve performance and to lower cost of these technologies by 2010. The research funding is part of the $1.2-billion Hydrogen Fuel Initiative announced by President Bush in the 2003 State of the Union Address. Applications are due by March 30, 2006. See the solicitation on the www.grants.gov Web site.
In addition, DOE has selected 12 competitively awarded, cost-shared projects that will receive $19 million in federal funding over the next five years for polymer membrane research. This research aims to increase the durability and shelf life of polymer membranes, while simultaneously bringing down the cost. Polymer electrolyte membranes are an integral part of hydrogen fuel cells. See the DOE press release for the list of awardees, and to learn more, see the description of a polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell on the DOE Hydrogen, Fuel Cells and Infrastructure Technologies Program Web site.
To identify the research and development (R&D) challenges that remain, the DOE also has unveiled its "Roadmap on Manufacturing R&D for the Hydrogen Economy." The 80-page document addresses challenges to the manufacturing, storage, and production of fuel cell technologies and proposes R&D solutions to overcome such challenges, focusing primarily on technologies that are near commercialization. The document is open to public comment for 45 days. See the roadmap and public comment form on the "Hydrogen Manufacturing" page of the DOE Hydrogen Program Web site.