Last year the U.S. Energy Department launched H2USA, a program aimed at addressing the challenge of hydrogen infrastructure. Established by the Energy Department’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the Hydrogen Fueling Infrastructure Research and Station Technology (H2FIRST) project will draw on existing and emerging core capabilities at the national labs and aim to reduce the cost and time of new fueling station construction and improve the stations’ availability and reliability.
By focusing on these aspects of the hydrogen fueling infrastructure, the effort hopes to accelerate and support the widespread deployment of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles. Automakers are investing in hydrogen technology as evidenced by Toyota’s recent announcement that it will begin selling its Fuel Cell Vehicle in 2015. Last year, GM and Honda announced plans to jointly develop hydrogen fuel cell cars, and Hyundai will lease its Tucson Fuel Cell hydrogen-powered vehicle in California this spring.
“The success of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles largely depends on more stations being available, including in neighborhoods and at work, so drivers can easily refuel,” said Daniel Dedrick, hydrogen program manager at Sandia who is involved with several other partners in the program. “With H2FIRST, we’re definitely on the road to making that happen more quickly.”
The partners include several agencies from the state of California, widely regarded as the nation’s epicenter of zero-emission vehicles.
“This new project brings important federal know-how and resources to accelerate improvements in refueling infrastructure that support the commercial market launch of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles,” said Air Resources Board Chairman Mary D. Nichols. “California is committed to deploying at least 100 hydrogen refueling stations in the next decade, and the H2FIRST effort is a big step toward the development and deployment of a broader, consumer-friendly infrastructure for us and the rest of the United States. We are excited to be joined by such prestigious partners in this effort.”
H2FIRST’s technical goal is to develop and apply physical testing, numerical simulation and technology validation to help create low-cost, high-performance materials, components and station architectures. H2FIRST also will collect and distribute data supporting industry’s efforts to reduce the costs of integrated fueling systems and networks.
As the leads for H2FIRST, Sandia and NREL will share their hydrogen expertise, including research in hydrogen-specific materials and systems engineering. Two research facilities, Sandia’s Center for Infrastructure Research and Innovation in California and NREL’s Energy Systems Integration Facility in Colorado, will serve as hubs for H2FIRST.
Sandia’s facilities will develop and test innovative infrastructure technologies to accelerate market readiness, drawing upon Sandia’s broader hydrogen program, which includes research on storage, delivery, production, systems analysis and safety, codes and standards.
NREL will use its performance-testing, analysis, and safety, codes and standards expertise to study renewable hydrogen generation and infrastructure systems and components. At NREL’s new Energy Systems Integration Facility, capabilities such as a hose reliability testing robot and construction of additional refueling hardware will support H2FIRST’s hydrogen infrastructure research needs.