The US Department of Energy (DOE) has launched a $59m funding call for research and development projects focused on reducing the cost of hydrogen for use in mobility, as well as improving the permitting process and fostering community engagement.
The DOE lists five research areas that it will support in this latest call, with support taking the form of cooperative agreements over two to four years.
The first is for research into new components for gaseous or liquid hydrogen refuelling of medium- and heavy-duty fuel-cell vehicles (FCVs).
Similarly, the second seeks proposals to develop and demonstrate a low-cost, standardised, and replicable refuelling station that can be rolled out on a commercial scale.
The DOE has also previously awarded more than half of the last $48m for hydrogen research and development towards improving liquid H2 storage and fuelling for vehicles.
Most analysts anticipate that the decarbonisation of passenger cars will overwhelming trend toward battery-electric models due to greater well-to-wheel efficiency and a lower operating cost.
However, there is more debate on whether H2 will be the best option for reducing emissions from heavy-duty vehicles, given faster refuelling times, longer ranges and lower overall weight of fuel cells compared to batteries.
To date, the uptake of FCVs has been limited by a lack of refuelling stations in the US except in California — which has seen skyrocketing prices and a widespread shutdown of sites due to a disruption in fuel supply.
Meanwhile, the third research topic that will be supported is design, development and demonstration of fuel-cell port equipment, such as for cargo-handling or to provide dispatchable power to docked vessels.
Meanwhile, the final two research areas take a broader focus on improving how projects are actually deployed.
The fourth research area seeks proposals for research looking into permitting and safety for hydrogen projects, from production through to end use.
The final topic seeks proposals to “improve the capacity of DOE and DOE-funded projects to conduct effective community-engagement activites”.
This could represent a push to align the deployment of hydrogen projects with the Biden administration’s broader pledge for environmental justice, particularly for disadvantaged communities in heavily-polluted areas.
The government has recently faced criticism over the choice to allocate billions of dollars in funding for hydrogen hubs planning to produce blue H2 from fossil gas with carbon capture, with some groups arguing that this would come with continued pollution from upstream emissions and methane leaks.