Skip to Main Content

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced $750 million in funding for 52 projects to dramatically reduce the cost of clean hydrogen and reinforce American leadership in the growing hydrogen industry. Shawn Litster was a sub-awardee on five of the selected projects with a total funding of $50M and a combined budget of $2.5 million directed to his lab over the next three years. Litster’s project partners include Plug Power Inc., 3M Company, Stanford University, pH Matter, and Power to Hydrogen.

Litster’s lab is focused on translating new developments in materials including catalysts and polymers to high-performance fuel cells and electrolyzers through a framework that encompasses advanced fabrication, experimental diagnostics, ultra-high resolution 3D imaging, and multi-scale simulation.

Research will advance critical technologies for tackling many of the hard-to-abate carbon emissions sectors, including heavy duty transportation.

Shawn Litster, Professor, Mechanical Engineering

“What excites me about this funding is that the research will advance critical technologies for tackling many of the hard-to-abate carbon emissions sectors, including heavy duty transportation,” said Litster, professor of mechanical engineering and head of the Electrochemical Decarbonization Lab. “Long haul trucks are very difficult to electrify with batteries because of the weight and recharging time of batteries, so hydrogen fuel cells are a promising alternative for electrification thanks to the high energy density of hydrogen and the rapid refueling time.”

While two projects focus on fuel cells, three of the funded projects are on water electrolysis for hydrogen production from low carbon electricity sources.

“Electrolyzers to produce low-carbon hydrogen are critical to address carbon emissions associated with producing fertilizer, steel, aviation fuels, and cement,” Litster explained.

The projects selected for awards that Litster’s lab is a project partner on include:

High Volume Fuel Cell Manufacturing, Stack Assembly, and Final Test [Project lead: Plug Power Inc., $30M]

This project will enable additional domestic manufacturing capacity of 20,000 fuel cell stacks per year from a global leader in clean hydrogen technologies. The project will demonstrate an innovative expansion of their current manufacturing line.

Durable, High Specific Power OER Catalyst/Electrodes for PEM Water Electrolyzers [Project lead: 3M Company, $5M]

This project will develop catalysts with low-precious metal loadings for proton exchange membrane electrolyzers. These developments will enable catalyst cost reduction while maintaining performance and durability.

Towards Scalable Manufacture of Low Iridium Loading Catalyst for Durable PEM Water Electrolyzers (PEM-WE) [Project lead: Stanford University, $3M]

This project will use theory to guide development of non-precious metal catalyst supports for proton exchange membrane electrolyzers that can enable cost reduction without sacrificing performance and durability.

U.S.-Based Advanced Catalyst Manufacturing [Lead: pH Matter LLC, $7.2M]

This project will build on catalyst technology advancements to scale-up materials for use in the heavy-duty transportation market. The project will improve the domestic manufacturing base for catalysts and demonstrate the capability to meet DOE manufacturing capacity targets.

Advanced Electrolysis Cell Components Designed for Assembly [Project lead: Power to Hydrogen LLC, $6.6M]

This project will further develop and scale-up a proven advanced liquid alkaline electrolyzer cell design that meets DOE performance targets while utilizing low-cost components. Components will be designed for GW-scale manufacturing and assembly while scaling the cell size. Developments will be applicable to a broad set of alkaline electrolyzer designs, helping to establish a U.S.-based component supply chain.