DOE awards $750M for ‘clean’ hydrogen technology

By Christian Robles | 03/13/2024 01:37 PM EDT

New research funding for hydrogen research and development will increase the production of “clean” hydrogen fuel by 1.3 million metric tons a year.

DOE building sign and hydrogen pump

The Department of Energy plans to spend $750 million funding “clean” hydrogen research and development. Francs Chung/POLITICO (DOE sign); Sean Gallup/Getty Images (hydrogen)

The Department of Energy will use $750 million from the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law to fund “clean” hydrogen research and development projects related to electrolyzers — a device that uses electricity to split hydrogen from water — fuel cells and manufacturing processes.

DOE’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office will allocate the funding to 52 different hydrogen projects reflecting six broad categories. The largest category, accounting for $316 million across eight projects, is research to boost electrolyzer manufacturing. Other categories seek to address electrolyzer supply chain needs, lower electrolyzer costs, support fuel cell manufacturing and develop recycling methods for materials used to make hydrogen.

“The projects announced today — funded by the President’s Investing in America agenda — will supercharge our progress and ensure our leadership in clean hydrogen will be felt across the nation for generations to come,” said DOE Secretary Jennifer Granholm in a press release.


The awardees include DOE’s national laboratories and big-name companies like Cummins, General Motors and Plug Power.

Cummins will receive $17.9 million to lead a project developing a new proton exchange membrane electrolyzer design to reduce hydrogen manufacturing costs. The corporation will also be involved in a $10 million project led by the Chemours to improve Nafion membrane-based electrolyzers and the lifespan of proton exchange membrane electrolyzers.

GM will receive $30 million to lead a project to increase U.S. fuel cell production. The automobile giant is also involved in several other projects including a $50 million consortium to develop recycling technologies for electrolyzers and other hydrogen production materials.

The American Institute of Chemical Engineers will lead the consortium and includes the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Plug Power, a front-runner in the green hydrogen industry, will lead its own $30 million project to increase U.S. fuel cell production. The company will also receive $45.7 million to increase the manufacturing of proton exchange membrane electrolyzers and lower hydrogen production costs.

In total, 24 states will receive funding from DOE, with New York receiving more than any other state.

Wednesday’s announcement is DOE’s first step in distributing $1.5 billion worth of 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law dollars for “clean” hydrogen research and development.

The first distribution of hydrogen research and development dollars will yield 14 gigawatts of fuel cells per year, the equivalent of 15 percent of medium and heavy-duty trucks sold each year, according to the release. Funding will also increase electrolyzer manufacturing capacity by 10 gigawatts per year, enough to produce 1.3 million metric tons of “clean” hydrogen per year.

That amount of additional “clean” hydrogen would help DOE meet its goal of ramping up low to zero carbon hydrogen production to 10 million metric tons by 2030. Funding will help DOE achieve its goal of lowering the cost of “clean” hydrogen to $1 per kilogram of hydrogen produced by 2031, the release added.

However, many in the hydrogen industry say companies will struggle to help DOE achieve its climate goals if proposed tax rules for a new hydrogen production tax credit are finalized. Environmentalists have long argued that proposed rules are necessary to ensure hydrogen production results in low to zero emissions.