What Is H2First?

H2FIRST (Hydrogen Fueling Infrastructure Research and Station Technology) is a project launched by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE's) Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). The project leverages capabilities at the national laboratories to address the technology challenges related to hydrogen refueling stations. Led by Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and supported by a broad array of public and private partners, the H2FIRST project is a strong example of DOE’s efforts to bring national lab capabilities and facilities to bear on both immediate and mid-term challenges faced by industry. H2FIRST was established by DOE’s FCTO directly in support of H2USA, a public-private partnership co-launched by DOE and industry in 2013.

What Is The H2First Project Objective? What Are The Expected Outcomes?

The H2FIRST objective is to ensure that fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) customers have a positive fueling experience similar to conventional gasoline/diesel stations as vehicles are introduced (2015–2017) and transition to advanced fueling technology beyond 2017. H2FIRST will help enable commercially viable hydrogen fueling stations by coordinating and leveraging the vast technical resources of its public and private sector participants. The H2FIRST activities are expected to positively impact the cost, reliability, safety, and consumer experience of FCEV stations.

What Will H2First Include?

H2FIRST includes technical work to fill the most critical gaps/needs for achieving a better performing, less expensive hydrogen fueling infrastructure. The project scope includes development and physical testing of components and systems, numerical simulation, technology validation, identification and development of low-cost, high-performance materials, and systems and station architecture design. To launch H2FIRST, DOE is funding the following three task teams that are focused on near-term needs to accelerate hydrogen station technology:

Hydrogen Station Equipment Performance (HyStEP)
Goal: Develop hydrogen station test device to validate dispenser fueling protocol
Impact: Reduce timeline for stations to enter service

Hydrogen Contaminant Detector (HCD) Specification
Goal: Develop requirements for inline fuel quality system for installation at stations
Impact: Develop information for HCD development and prevent damage to fuel cell vehicles from contaminants

Reference Station Design
Goal: Develop station designs based on state-of-the-art components and characterize cost, throughput, reliability, and footprint using DOE models
Impact: Streamline station design and reduce build time

A process is in place to help identify new H2FIRST tasks in the future and ensure that the project is addressing the national needs associated with hydrogen station technology R&D.

How Does H2First Relate To H2USA?

H2FIRST includes technical work in support of H2USA to enable the deployment of commercial hydrogen fueling stations in the United States. A Coordination Panel comprised of representatives from the H2USA Station Working Group and the H2FIRST principal investigators (PIs) will ensure relevance and impact of the H2FIRST activities. The H2FIRST Coordination Panel activities may include the following:

  • Providing industry perspective on R&D needs to support hydrogen infrastructure growth
  • Participating in bi-yearly H2FIRST Coordination Panel meetings to review H2FIRST project progress and impact
  • Helping to identify potential project partners
  • Participating as project partners
  • Providing feedback to H2FIRST PIs on the impact of H2FIRST tasks (relative to H2FIRST goals and objectives).
Which Geographic Regions Is H2First Focusing On?

The H2FIRST project is focused on resolving technical issues and lowering the cost of hydrogen fueling infrastructure, and will be coordinated with the national efforts associated with H2USA. The project is not focused on a specific geographic location. The H2FIRST project will leverage experience and learning from near-term priority areas such as California and other select locations.

Why Is DOE Investing In This?

The creation of the H2FIRST project is aligned with the mission of DOE’s FCTO within EERE. (FCTO’s mission is to enable the widespread commercialization of a portfolio of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies through applied research, technology development and demonstration, and diverse efforts to overcome institutional and market challenges.) DOE and other H2USA partners are investing resources toward solving technical issues to enable the national roll-out of hydrogen fueling stations.

Where Is The Funding Coming From?

DOE will be a primary sponsor of the H2FIRST project. Based on sufficient value to each organization involved, it is expected that substantial co-funding may be received from state/regional government agencies as well as private sector entities in the form of monetary and/or in-kind contributions. Cost-share requirements will be consistent with other DOE-funded projects.

How Much Funding Is Involved?

DOE has deployed nearly $1.4 million in FY14 and FY15 for the three active H2FIRST tasks (HyStEP, HCD, Reference Station Design) and for management and coordination with industry partners. Future DOE funding may be made available to H2FIRST activities through established processes (for example, response to competitive DOE funding opportunities, National Laboratory funding). DOE estimates up to $6 million funding available to National Laboratories and through funding opportunities on topics relevant to H2FIRST through FY16, subject to appropriations. The amount of co-funding from state/regional government agencies as well as private-sector entities is yet to be determined and will depend on the value that H2FIRST brings to each organization.

What Lab Resources Are Being Provided In Support Of H2First?

As the leads for the H2FIRST project, SNL and NREL will share their hydrogen expertise, including research in hydrogen-specific materials and systems engineering. Two research facilities, SNL’s Center for Infrastructure Research and Innovation in California and NREL’s Energy Systems Integration Facility in Colorado, will serve as research facilities for H2FIRST. SNL’s facilities will develop and test innovative infrastructure technologies to accelerate market readiness. NREL will leverage facilities including 700 bar compression, storage, and dispensing capabilities, as well as hydrogen production and robotic hose reliability labs, to support H2FIRST’s hydrogen infrastructure research needs.

Who Is Involved?

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories are the lead labs under the auspices of the Department of Energy. State and regional agencies collaborate with DOE and may also provide funding based on specific technical needs. In addition to NREL and SNL, partners planning to conduct technical work include private industry (including auto manufacturers, station developers, and component suppliers), consortia (e.g., the California Fuel Cell Partnership), non-profits, academic institutions, research organizations, and other National Laboratories.

Why Are There So Many Separate Hydrogen Groups/Factions?

H2FIRST is not a “group” or “partnership” in the sense of H2USA or U.S. DRIVE. It is a project with multiple team members similar to other projects funded by DOE. Instead of long-term R&D, H2FIRST is mission-focused to address the immediate technical challenges faced by H2USA and the deployment of hydrogen fueling stations.

How Can I Become Involved/Participate In H2First?

Hydrogen fueling station stakeholders are welcome to consider participating in the H2FIRST project. Opportunities for involvement include participating in the H2USA stations working group, H2FIRST Coordination Panel, and H2FIRST Project Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs), or responding to requests for quotation issued by the H2FIRST project leads. The Coordination Panel consists of individuals associated with the H2USA Hydrogen Fueling Stations Working Group (HFSWG). Participation in the Coordination Panel is open to industry representatives that are active in the HFSWG. For further information, please contact any of the following:

Alex Schroeder, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Rachel Wallace, Strategic Partnerships, Sandia National Laboratories