DOE H2&FC Reviews

Hydrogen – Fuel Cells for Transportation – Fuels for Fuel Cells
— 2002 Annual Program/Lab R&D Review —

These three US DOE programs held their combined review meetings, May 6-10, 2002 in Golden CO. Proceedings are available on the Hydrogen Information Network:

……..[addendum July 17]………
The proceedings of the 2002 US DOE Hydrogen Program Annual Review are available on-line.

The 70 technical reports, each available as a separate downloadable file, represent the efforts of researchers and engineers at National Labs, universities, and in industry from across the US. They cover hydrogen production, storage, and use, with excellent papers on analysis and the Program’s technology validation projects. The CD-ROM will be available for purchase soon.

As you know, UFTO made its group visit to NREL on the Wednesday. I was there all week and caught four days of the review meetings.

The first big news was that all three programs are now combined into one, under the major reorganization of Energy Efficiency and Renewables (aka EE or EREN). (See UFTO News March 26–if you missed it let me know. Also These programs had been under separate offices (Power, Industrial, and Transportation).


Technical abstracts appear in two documents, each of which contain 2-3 pages on each of 38 presentations. Technical Papers from the meeting will be posted by mid-July 2002.

Session A – Production and Technology Validation
– Biological Hydrogen Production
– Fossil ? Base Production
– Renewable Production/Electrolytic Processes
– Technology Validation
– Separation And Purification

Session B – Storage, Utilization, Analysis
– Analysis Projects
– Hydrogen Utilization Research
– Technology Transfer
– Storage

– Fuel Cell Modeling/Analysis
– Fuel Cell Stack Components
– Membranes/MEAs
– Electrodes/Electrocatalysts
– Direct-Methanol Fuel Cells
– Fuel Cell Materials

FUELS FOR FUEL CELLS (13 papers): May 10
– Fuel Processing
– Water-Gas Shift Catalysts
– Fuels Effects

Complete papers for fuel cells are already posted, along with 20 poster papers.

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DOE is required by law to do these reviews, and they are quite scripted and formalized. A panel of grey-beard expert reviewers sit in the front and ask probing questions and give sage advice to each of the researchers who present an update of their progress since last year. Meanwhile several hundred observers fill the rest of the room, and can ask questions if there’s time after the reviewers are finished. The format of the presentations were very tightly prescribed, with a number of required points to cover (e.g. ‘collaborations and outreach’). The Hydrogen program even banned fancy graphics and powerpoint, insisting on plain vu-graphs (bad experiences in the past with computer glitches).

Presentations covered projects funded by the three DOE programs. Most were from national lab researchers, with only a handful of industrials. As such the emphasis seemed to be heavily in favor of basic research/long-term R&D, and “analysis” projects, e.g. to estimate the costs and benefits of various infrastructure schemes. As such, it was a long five days, and only moderately rewarding at best (especially if one considers that developments with real commercial potential are not going to be talked about in public). As usual, the informal networking during breaks and receptions were at least as worthwhile. One can only hope that the reorganization will bring greater clarity to all of this work, along with a rethinking of the review process.

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DOE staff gave overviews of the issues, programs, and progress–these are also on the website above.

– Storage is progressing well, notably pressurized tanks, but a breakthrough would be welcome
– Production is from natural gas in the nearterm, capitalizing on existing infrastructure, though not sustainable for the long term.
– Long term (20+ years) the goal is hydrogen from biomass, coal, nuclear* and waste.
(*by electrolysis, or better, direct thermal decomposition of water at high temperature)
– The essential end-use device- the fuel cell- continues to need huge cost reductions
– Safety, codes, standards, and fair trade issues are a major piece of the puzzle
– On-board vehicle reformers are only a transition strategy. Startup time and efficiency are key.
– Vehicle Insfrastructure Demonstration partnerships, involving the deployment of progressively larger fleets and charging station

DOE initiated a National Hydrogen Vision and Roadmap process in response to recommendations made in President Bush’s National Energy Policy. The Vision Meeting took place Nov 2001 and the Roadmap Workshop took place Apr 2002 in Washington, D.C. The summaries, the proceedings, and the individual presentations are available at:

This presentation contains a lot of information about the perceptions, priorities and programs: — Review of the Hydrogen Program (N. Rossmeissl, DOE)

National policy is indeed driving things. There is a draft report to Congress, following a workshop held in February, available now at:
“…an assessment of the technical, economic, and infrastructure barriers to commercialization of fuel cells for transportation, portable power, stationary and distributed generation applications. This full report is due November 5, 2002. In addition, the Department is to provide an interim assessment that describes the need for public and private cooperative programs to demonstrate commercial use of fuel cells by 2012.”

The FreedomCAR Partnership is the successor to PNGV, whose goal had been a very high mileage auto. Go to:
The new emphasis is on hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Scroll down this long list of publications (probably a lot more than you wanted to know):
Note in particular, the 2001 Annual Progress Report for Fuel Cells for Transportation

The name “Freedom” is meant to represent freedom from foreign oil and emissions and freedom of choice, with myriad technologies and products. These programs address technical challenges such as cost (platinum), durability, fuel processing, air-thermal-water management, and higher temperature (=new membranes). Specific stretch goals: 60% efficiency; 325 W/kg; $45/kw (including storage!). For storage, 2 kwh/kg, 1 kwh/L.