NREL: Celebrating Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day 2021: Highlights From NREL’s Research

October 8—10/08—is National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day! This year, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is celebrating this symbolic date, chosen to represent the atomic weight of hydrogen (1.008), by highlighting innovative hydrogen and fuel cell research across the laboratory.

NREL research is lowering the cost and increasing the scale of technologies to make, store, move, and use hydrogen across multiple energy sectors. Our work supports the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) H2@Scale initiative and NREL’s Electrons to Molecules and Integrated Energy Pathways research areas.

Here are a few highlights from NREL’s industry-leading hydrogen and fuel cell research.

Engineer touring a research laboratory
Electric Hydrogen representatives toured NREL’s hydrogen electrolyzer research labs in the Energy Systems Integration Facility. Photo by Dennis Schroeder, NREL

NREL and clean hydrogen company Electric Hydrogen have inked an agreement to develop high-performance electrolyzer components, helping to scale clean hydrogen and invent new opportunities for decarbonization. The three-year, $3.6 million collaboration will diagnose sources of degradation in commercial electrolysis cells and will validate advanced designs that use higher stack currents. Several of the NREL and Electric Hydrogen team were also behind the success of a long-lasting collaboration between NREL and First Solar, and the Electric Hydrogen collaboration hopes to repeat that remarkable progress.

DOE Announces $6 Million for NREL H2@Scale Projects To Help Reach Hydrogen Shot Goals
This week DOE announced $6 million for six NREL-industry cooperative projects that will complement existing H2@Scale efforts and support DOE’s Hydrogen Shot goal to drive down the cost of clean hydrogen by 80% within the decade. The selected cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) projects will leverage the Advanced Research on Integrated Energy Systems (ARIES) platform to enable the integration of hydrogen technologies in future energy systems, including energy storage and a specific focus on safety and risk mitigation. Read more in the DOE announcement.

Breakthrough Analysis Finds Electrified Heavy-Duty Vehicle Powertrains Could Provide Lower Total Cost of Ownership
A new total cost of ownership (TCO) study from NREL finds that battery electric and fuel cell commercial electric trucks could be economically competitive with conventional diesel trucks by 2025 in some operating scenarios. The research leveraged NREL’s Transportation Technology Total Cost of Ownership (T3CO) modeling framework to evaluate six leading powertrain technologies to quantify the TCO of different truck options and identify operating scenarios where each technology may have an economic advantage.

Researchers Outline Strategies To Achieve DOE Hydrogen Shot Goals
NREL scientists offered strategies for accelerating clean hydrogen production technologies during the Electrolysis and Advanced Pathways panels at the 2021 Hydrogen Shot Summit. The DOE event rallied thousands of stakeholders working to tackle the climate crises through actions, strategies, and innovations in hydrogen. DOE’s Hydrogen Shot, launched June 7, 2021, aims to reduce the cost of clean hydrogen by 80%—achieving $1 per 1 kilogram in 1 decade. View the Hydrogen Shot Summit proceedings.

Breakthrough Methods Help Integrate Renewable Hydrogen With Waste Carbon Dioxide To Produce Clean Fuels, Chemicals, and More
Wind, solar, and battery storage appear to be a winning combination for clean electricity systems, but, to make the leap to a sustainable energy system, another ingredient is necessary: low-carbon fuels. With continued cost reductions for renewably generated electricity from sources like wind and solar systems, NREL is validating utility-scale hydrogen-production processes that could provide tomorrow’s clean fuels and chemical feedstocks to produce low-carbon, high-value products.

New Financial Analysis Tool for Long-Duration Energy Storage In Deeply Decarbonized Grids
NREL researchers developed a rigorous new Storage Financial Analysis Scenario Tool (StoreFAST) model to identify potential long-duration storage opportunities in the framework of a future electric grid with 85% renewables penetration. StoreFAST analyzes both energy storage systems and flexible power generation systems on a side-by-side basis to provide insights into the levelized cost of energy, financial performance parameters, and time series charts. A Joule article identified clean hydrogen systems with geologic storage and natural gas with carbon capture and sequestration as the lowest cost options for long durations of energy storage.

Lighting the Path to Net Zero: NREL’s Research Strategy Drives Deep Transportation Decarbonization
Swiftly driving down carbon emissions in the transportation sector—the largest source of greenhouse gases in the United States—is critical in the push to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. To light the path to net zero, NREL released a comprehensive vision for decarbonizing transportation across all sectors, from passenger cars to commercial trucks, aircraft, marine, rail, and mobility systems. NREL’s whole-system strategy considers these sectors as part of a larger energy ecosystem powered by renewable electrons and linked by low-carbon energy carriers including hydrogen and liquid fuels.

HyBlend Project To Accelerate Potential for Blending Hydrogen in Natural Gas Pipelines
NREL is leading a new collaborative research and development project known as HyBlend to address the technical barriers to blending hydrogen in natural gas pipelines. Selected through HFTO’s H2@Scale 2020 CRADA Call, the HyBlend project comprises six national laboratories―NREL, Sandia National Laboratories, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, and the National Energy Technology Laboratory―and more than 20 participants from industry and academia.

A smart city and telecommunication network concept

NREL To Lead New Lab Consortium To Enable Low-Cost Electrolyzers for Hydrogen Production
Hydrogen from Next-generation Electrolyzers of Water (H2NEW), co-led by NREL and Idaho National Laboratory, is a consortium of nine DOE national laboratories focused on making large-scale electrolyzers, which produce hydrogen from electricity and water, more durable, efficient, and affordable. Launched in October 2020, H2NEW will address components, materials integration, and manufacturing R&D to overcome technical barriers and enable manufacturable electrolyzers that meet required cost, durability, and performance targets, simultaneously, to enable $2/kg hydrogen by 2025. Learn more about H2NEW.

Study Shows Abundant Opportunities for Hydrogen in a Future Integrated Energy System
Through DOE’s H2@Scale initiative, NREL analysts—in partnership with researchers from Argonne National Laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and industry experts—assessed the techno-economic potential of realizing an integrated hydrogen energy system by the mid-21st century for the 48 contiguous U.S. states and identified potential for a 2- to 4-fold increase in potential hydrogen demand in five future scenarios. The findings are published in a report, The Technical and Economic Potential of the H2@Scale Concept within the United States.

The U.S. Senate officially recognized Oct. 8, 2021, as National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day with the passage of Senate Resolution 412, and Colorado’s governor issued a proclamation to proclaim the date as Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day in Colorado. This is the seventh year in a row the Senate has passed such a resolution and the fifth year the State of Colorado has officially recognized the day.

Celebrate Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day your way with a list of suggested activities and resources from the DOE Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office.

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