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UT-Austin partnering with GTI, Frontier on hydrogen energy R&D project

Frontier Energy, the Gas Technology Institute (GTI) and the University of Texas at Austin are working together on a federally supported project focused on hydrogen for energy development.

The DOE project, “Demonstration and Framework for [email protected] in Texas and Beyond,” will work to prove that renewable hydrogen can be a cost-effective fuel for multiple end-use energy applications, including fuel-cell vehicles and clean, reliable and stationary power, according to the release.

The effort is supported by the Department of Energy’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

“The Project [email protected] in Texas and Beyond brings hydrogen industry leaders together with enthusiastic and important new participants to design, build, and operate the first dedicated renewable hydrogen network. It will demonstrate infrastructure safety and reliability in a real-world situation,” said Nico Bouwkamp, Frontier Energy’s [email protected] project manager. “The project will also leverage Texas’ extensive resources—wind power, solar energy, underground salt-dome storage formations, hydrogen pipelines, natural gas infrastructure, international port operations, and a large, concentrated industrial infrastructure—to demonstrate the potential of DOE’s [email protected] initiative.”  

Engineering firm Frontier Energy is partnering with GTI, UT-Austin, OneH2, Texas Gas Service, SoCalGas, Toyota Motor North America, Shell, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Air Liquide and PowerCell Sweden AB on similar projects regarding hydrogen utilization.

UT-Austin will host the project integrating commercial hydrogen production, distribution, storage and usage. The electrolysis will be powered by solar and wind power, as well as reformation of renewable natural gas from a Texas landfill.

“Hydrogen has significant potential to contribute to our nation’s domestic energy resources, enhance energy security, and enable economic growth, and Texas has the potential to become a leader in this space,” said Michael Lewis, the [email protected] Principle Investigator and a Sr. Research Engineer at the Center for Electromechanics at UT-Austin. “The Center for Electromechanics and the University are pleased to host the [email protected] R&D and will help educate a generation of engineers who can make these academic advances real.”

The hydrogen will power a stationary fuel cell to provide clean, reliable power for the Texas Advanced Computing Center and supply a hydrogen station with zero-emission fuel to fill a fleet of Toyota Mirai fuel cell electric vehicles.

At the Port of Houston, the project team will conduct a feasibility study for scaling up hydrogen production and use. The team will assess available resources, prospective hydrogen users, and delivery infrastructure, such as existing pipelines that supply hydrogen to refineries. The study will examine policies, regulations, and economics so that industry can develop a strategic action plan to present to policymakers to enable heavy-duty fuel cell transportation and energy systems.

“Hydrogen can be an important link between renewables and existing energy infrastructure,” said Ted Barnes, GTI R&D Director, Energy Utilization. “The focus of [email protected] is to enable affordable and reliable large-scale hydrogen generation, transport, storage, and utilization in the U.S. across multiple sectors, and this project will integrate a wide variety of new and existing technologies and identify innovative concepts to develop robust hydrogen solutions. GTI has decades of experience and a long-standing commitment to hydrogen research and technology development, and we are excited to be a part of this project focused on low-carbon energy and integrated energy networks.” 

The project started on July 1 and will continue for three years. The project partners committed half of the funding for the $10.8 million project that will demonstrate how hydrogen production and use can enable grid resiliency, align domestic industries, increase competitiveness, and promote job creation.


(Rod Walton is content director for Power Engineering, POWERGEN+ and POWERGEN International. He can be reached at 918-831-9177 and [email protected]).