DOE program to accelerate clean hydrogen fuel cell production

April 10, 2024

Five national laboratories have been tasked with bringing zero emissions power generation to viability through a U.S. Department of Energy effort to accelerate production of clean hydrogen fuel cells

Hydrogen is a clean fuel that, when consumed in a fuel cell, produces only water. The U.S. has fallen behind other countries in hydrogen research, according to a 2022 report published by a marketing research company.  

The new Roll-to-Roll (R2R) Consortium aims to address that by working to scale up, speed up and reduce the cost of producing essential components to fuel cell production, the DOE said. 

The R2R Consortium is led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and includes Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), and Sandia National Laboratories (SNL). 

“Our overarching goal is to de-risk and accelerate U.S. manufacturing of high-performance, durable, and low-cost fuel cells and electrolyzers,” said Scott Mauger, R2R Consortium director and senior scientist at NREL. “The consortium’s activities will focus on understanding the science of the manufacturing processes themselves to achieve target rates, yields, and product quality.” 

Scaled-up automation that allows for rapid, high-volume testing, and production is essential for viable clean hydrogen production, the DOE said.  

Roll-to-roll manufacturing of materials can increase efficiency, reduce material waste and improve cost, but there are challenges related to materials synthesis, coating, drying and quality control that need to be addressed to scale up these processes for industry adoption. 

The core labs in the R2R Consortium will conduct research, development and demonstration activities in six topic areas, each led by a lab with existing capabilities and expertise focused in that area.  

The first three topics address manufacturing challenges that are critical for the growth of the hydrogen industry, and the second three are cross-cutting activities that will integrate with the research on manufacturing challenges, the DOE said: 

  • Materials Scale-Up Science – Argonne National Laboratory 
  • Fabrication Process Science – Sandia National Laboratories 
  • Quality Control – National Renewable Energy Laboratory 
  • Characterization – Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory 
  • Advanced Computing – Sandia National Laboratories 
  • Techno-Economic Analysis National Renewable Energy Laboratory  

More details will be announced in the coming months, the DOE said. 

Photo by Jason Lawrence

Miles Smith

Miles Smith has more than two decades of communications experience in the public and private sectors, including several years of covering local governments for various daily and weekly print publications. His scope of work includes handling public relations for large private-sector corporations and managing public-facing communications for local governments.

Smith has recently joined the team as a content writer for SPI’s news publications, which include Texas Government Insider, Government Contracting Pipeline and its newest digital product, Government Market News, which launched in September 2023. He graduated from Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s in journalism.

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