Executive Insight

DOE funds pair of fuel cell projects

The Department of Energy announced 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.

Over the last decade, the DOE 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 percent 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 fuel cell membranes with improved durability and performance using processes that 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.