Adam Weber and Jeffrey Urban at ALS SAXS/WAXS Beamline 7.3.3.
Berkeley Lab has been awarded $8 million for two new DOE research efforts, one to find new materials for hydrogen storage and another for optimizing fuel-cell performance and durability. In addition, the Lab is leading a range of other hydrogen and fuel cell research projects aimed at developing next-generation fuel cell and related energy-conversion technologies.

“Berkeley Lab has had a strong fuel cell research program going back decades,” said scientist Adam Weber, who leads fuel cell research at Berkeley Lab. “With these new DOE consortiums, each national lab brings its core competences while synergistically leveraging each other. This way we’ll be able to push the state-of-the-art much faster and further than we could individually.”

The Fuel Cell—Consortium for Performance and Durability (FC-PAD) is led by Los Alamos National Laboratory and includes Argonne National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, with Adam Weber serving as the consortium’s deputy director. Adam’s work for FC-PAD will be to understand and optimize mass transport in the fuel cell, or the transport of reactants and products, such as hydrogen, oxygen, and water. He will also conduct work on the characterization of the ion-conducting electrolyte.

Safe and cost-effective hydrogen storage is another challenge for FCEVs, one that the other DOE consortium, Hydrogen Materials—Advanced Research Consortium (HyMARC), seeks to address. HyMARC is led by Sandia National Laboratories and also includes Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Jeff Urban is the HyMARC lead scientist for Berkeley Lab. Jeff and his group have come up with novel ways to synthesize nanoscale metal hydrides to achieve extremely high hydrogen storage capacity.

Berkeley Lab last month joined several other national labs as well as dozens of companies and other institutions in signing onto H2USA, a public-private partnership whose mission is “is to address hurdles to establishing hydrogen fueling infrastructure, enabling the large scale adoption of fuel cell electric vehicles.” Infrastructure is one of the critical challenges to wider hydrogen technology adoption, and one in which California has made a strong commitment.