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Hydrogen Fuel Cars Focus of Department of Energy Grant

These atoms may one day store hydrogen fuel in cars.
These atoms may one day store hydrogen fuel in cars.

One of the major factors holding back hydrogen cars up until now has been storage.

There is currently no economical way to store the gas onboard a vehicle. However, the Lawrence Livermore Nationa Laboratory aims to solve this problem as part of a tri-lab consortium working on new materials and tools to make hydrogen fuel cars a reality.

The team from Lawrence Livermore, led by Brandon Wood, will get $3 million over 3 years from the Department of Energy’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office, which is part of the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Their team will mostly be responsible for the computational and theoretical aspects of the project, although the Lab’s synthetics team will also provide their expertise.

The consortium itself is headed by Sandia National Laboratories and will also involved the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Each school will receive $1 million each year, so the project will total $9 million over the three-year span.

It will be worth it, though, when hydrogen fuel cars finally become available. The clean fuel would go a long way to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and accelerating the long process of reversing or at least mitigating the effects of climate change.

Over the last several years, a lot of progress has been made in the fields of high-resolution in situ characterization, material synthesis, and predictive multiscale modeling. (Characterization in materials science refers to the measurements of contaminant distributions.)

The project is unique and much more likely to be successful at actually making hydrogen fuel cars economically viable because, as Brandon Wood explains, “Researchers have been looking at the storage problem for a long time, but there hasn’t been enough focus on tackling some of the really challenging underlying problems, which is what we are tasked to do”.

The Livermore team, besides Wood, includes Miguel Morales, Ted Baumann, Tae Wook Heo, Stanmir Bonev, Keith Ray and Jon Lee.

Image (c) Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory


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  1. Hydrogen on demand (HHO) is well proven and has been around for decades. I find it disturbing that people like you only want solutions that are economically painful for the masses. Everyone should have 40 acres and a mule and a 4 bedroom 6 bath home with several giant SUV’s in the driveway. I like sprawl. I have just as much right to the planet’s resources as any other creature.

    • I want solutions that are economically beneficial. That’s the goal of proper research and development. An up-front investment often results in savings down the line. Sometimes it doesn’t, though. That’s the risk of large-scale scientific research. Without that research, though, we wouldn’t have large SUVs and modern amenities. Sometimes it’s worth that risk. That’s the gamble the DoE is taking here. Of course, you can certainly disagree with that assessment.

      Also, there’s nothing wrong with sprawl, I just don’t see why we can’t sprawl while driving hydrogen fuel cars.


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