In support of the Obama Administration's all-of-the-above strategy to develop clean, domestic energy sources, the Energy Department announces a $4.5 million investment in two projects—led by Minnesota-based 3M and the Colorado School of Mines—to lower the cost, improve the durability, and increase the efficiency of next-generation fuel cell systems. This investment is a part of the Energy Department's commitment to maintain American leadership in innovative clean energy technologies, give American businesses more options to cut energy costs, and reduce our reliance on imported oil.
"Fuel cell technologies have an important role to play in diversifying America's transportation sector, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and curbing harmful carbon pollution," says Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy David Danielson. "By partnering with private industry and universities, we can help advance affordable fuel cell technologies that save consumers money and give drivers more options while creating jobs in this growing global industry."
Over the last decade, the Energy Department has invested in research and development projects to improve the efficiency and lower the costs of fuel cells. This research has helped decrease the amount of platinum used in catalysts by a factor of five and reduced the costs of transportation fuel cells by more than 80% since 2002. Projects such as these have led to more than 400 patents, 65 pre-commercial technologies, and nearly 40 commercial technologies in the market—positioning the nation as a global leader in the emerging fuel cell industry.
Building on these efforts, the projects will continue research and development work aimed at making cost-effective, high-performing fuel cell membranes that can operate under hotter and drier conditions. For example, 3M will receive $3 million to focus on developing innovative fuel cell membranes with improved durability and performance using processes which are easily scalable to commercial size. The Colorado School of Mines will receive $1.5 million to develop advanced hybrid membranes for cutting edge, next-generation fuel cells that are simpler and more affordable and able to operate at higher temperatures.