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It appears the U.S. hasn't completely backed away from hydrogen fuel cell vehicles with a new Department of Energy (DOE) announcement saying it will award nearly $7 million over five years for cost analysis to support the development of hydrogen storage for fuel cell systems, including those used for transportation.

The projects will look into lifecycle cost of existing and conceptual fuel cell systems for transportation and stationary applications including backup power and forklifts. The projects awarded include:
  • Directed Technologies: Gets $3 million for two projects, one focused on transportation fuel cell systems; the other on hydrogen storage systems.
  • Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory: Awarded $1.9 million to develop total cost models for low and high temperature stationary fuel cell systems.
  • Battelle Memorial Institute: Receives up to $2 million to provide cost assessments for stationary fuel cell applications up to 25kW, including forklifts, backup power units, primary power and combined heat and power systems.
It is hoped these projects will provide data to assist the future research and development of fuel cell components and manufacturing processes. The cost analysis will be conducted by designing the systems and conceptualizing its manufacturing process, selecting manufacturing equipment, determining labor and energy and obtaining prices for materials and manufacturing equipment.
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Department of Energy Awards Nearly $7 Million to Advance Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Storage Systems Research

California, Ohio, and Virginia Projects to Find Ways to Reduce Component and Manufacturing Costs

August 09, 2011

The U.S. Department of Energy today announced nearly $7 million over five years for independent cost analyses that will support research and development efforts for fuel cells and hydrogen storage systems. The four projects – in California, Ohio, and Virginia – will generate rigorous cost estimates for manufacturing equipment, labor, energy, raw materials, and various components that will help identify ways to drive down production costs of transportation fuel cell systems, stationary fuel cell systems, and hydrogen storage systems. These projects will provide important data that will help the Department focus future research and development funding on the fuel cell components and manufacturing processes that can deliver the greatest gains in efficiency.

"These projects will help advance our fuel cell and hydrogen storage research efforts and bring down the costs of producing and manufacturing next generation fuel cells," said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "These technologies are part of a broad portfolio that will create new American jobs, reduce carbon pollution, and increase our competitiveness in today's global clean energy economy." These projects will generate lifecycle cost analyses of existing and conceptual fuel cell systems for transportation and stationary applications. The projects will analyze a range of system sizes, manufacturing volumes, and applications, including transportation, backup power and material-handling equipment such as forklifts. Cost analyses are conducted by designing the system and conceptualizing its manufacturing process, selecting manufacturing equipment, determining labor and energy, and obtaining prices for materials and manufacturing equipment. The design of systems and manufacturing process is guided and vetted through system models at National Laboratories, patent and literature research, presentation from developers, and peer review.

The four projects selected for award are:

Directed Technologies, Inc. – Arlington, VA – up to $3 million for two projects

Directed Technologies will conduct two cost analyses under these awards – one focused on transportation fuel cell systems and the other on hydrogen storage systems. The transportation fuel cell systems project will analyze and estimate the cost of transportation fuel cell systems for use in vehicles including light-duty vehicles and buses. The cost analyses of hydrogen storage systems will also examine various cost parameters including capital equipment, raw materials, labor, and energy to gain an understanding of system cost drivers and future pathways to lower system costs. The analyses will include rigorous annual cost estimates of fuel cell power systems or hydrogen storage systems that will help industry optimize the design of components and manufacturing processes at various rates of production. Sensitivity studies will examine how total manufacturing costs are affected by changes to the fuel cell system design and cost parameters such as platinum price, cell power density, operating pressure, operating temperature or the number of cells in the fuel cell stack.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory – Berkeley, CA – up to $1.9 million

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will develop total cost models for low- and high-temperature stationary fuel cell systems up to 250 kilowatts (kW). This project will yield accurate projections of current system costs and assess the impacts of state-of-the-art manufacturing technologies, increases in production volume, and design changes on system and lifecycle costs for several near-term and emerging fuel cell markets.

Battelle Memorial Institute – Columbus, OH – up to $2 million

Over the course of this project, Battelle Memorial Institute will provide cost assessments for stationary fuel cell applications up to 25 kW, including forklifts, backup power units, primary power, and combined heat and power systems. The project will also provide cost analyses of large-scale fuel cell applications ranging from 100 to 250 kW, such as auxiliary power, primary power, and large-scale combined heat and power systems. The analyses conducted under this project will provide a better understanding of performance, design and manufacturing options, and life-cycle costs, which will help optimize fuel cell designs, manufacturing methods, and target applications.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 1 Month Ago
      25 kW residential CHP fuel cell stack costs about 50,000 to 100,000 dollars if not more and is quite oversized on anything but commercial facilities so it'll make due with recharging forklifts and heating the space or water feed. Perhaps telecom towers will at one point shift from diesel generators to fuel cells in their backup power. Although some towers have little to no backup at the moment to save money.
        • 1 Month Ago
        That is just the size being produced for that application. There are already over 5,000 units in houses in Japan. They reckon on hitting commercial viability by 2013: '"If the price falls again still, its popularity will gain momentum," general manager of Panasonic's fuel cell project, Mr Yasumasa Kurosaki, told the BBC. He added that the company aimed at fixing the per-unit price at around 500,000 yen, and get it even lower in the near future. With economies of scale, Panasonic says, such devices could be competitively priced at around a couple of thousand of pounds by 2013. "With over 40,000 hours running time already logged, we have proven the safety, reliability and CO2 savings of our devices in the real world while sales are improving gradually. We expect next year's sales to be up 20-30% on the last fiscal year," he said. The UK government has estimated that microgeneration products, such as fuel-cell combined-heat-and-power (CHP) units, have the potential to supply over one-third of the country's total electricity needs and help meet its environmental obligations.' http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8563928.stm The technology for home fuel cells and vehicles is very different.
        • 1 Month Ago
        Union Pacific Railroad is making the conversion to fuel cell power. "The first Altergy Freedom Power™ fuel cell system was recently installed at Union Pacific’s Stockton telecom facility where it is now supplying back-up power for telecommunications including railway switching, communication, and various other crucial railway demands." http://www.altergy.com/announcements/union_pacific_railroad.asp Telecoms are a growing market for stationary backup fuel cell units.
          • 1 Month Ago
          That's great news, railways are such a good place to use more reliable power supply with up to thousands passengers per train. Emergency Services and senior communities would be another in the most critical places for secure power supply. Unfortunately there's rarely, but sometimes report of a generator failing when it was needed the most.
      • 1 Month Ago
      Well I guess that's peanuts in the big picture but you'd think they'd already have enough money by now from various sources to figure out this 'problem'.
      • 1 Month Ago
      So it cost $7M to figure out how much it's going to cost?
        • 1 Month Ago
        Accountants gots to get paid! But seriously, this is real research. These reports will eventually end up here on ABG, where they will be debated endlessly - one side taking the stance that the reports are as factual as possible, and the other side attempting to discredit them. I'll go ahead and put myself in the group that believes these reports will be created with the best intentions for transparency and accuracy in accounting. Only be having faith in those generating the information do we really even have any chance of coming to a reasonable decision about our future implementation of fuel cell systems in various applications. If you disagree, and think that *any* research into the real costs associated with fuel cells is a waste of time, and that any conclusions are going to be biased, then feel free to put yourself into the "discredit" group at this time.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 1 Month Ago
      meh. I could save the world for that money but as gov mistakes go it's minor.
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 1 Month Ago
      PHEW... 7 million? Daddy's kickin out the cash! That should move hydrogen about 0.00001% closer to fruition.