DOE awards $1.5M to minority-serving colleges for clean hydrogen research

Published on November 22, 2022 by Dave Kovaleski

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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) awarded $1.5 million in funding for five projects that will advance clean-hydrogen technologies and grow the skills and knowledge of science and engineering students at Minority Serving Institutions.

These projects will directly engage with emerging minority talent and give participating students direct exposure to cutting-edge research. This includes engagement with DOE national laboratory researchers and may include site visits to the labs. The advances made will also help achieve the Hydrogen Shot goal of reducing the cost of clean hydrogen to $1 per 1 kg in one decade. It will also meet President Joe Biden’s vision for a net-zero emissions economy by 2050.

In addition to the $1.5 million in direct project funding, $550,000 will be provided for national laboratory support of these projects.

Two of the five projects were selected from the University of Texas at El Paso, one of the nation’s largest federally recognized Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI). The two projects are:

  • Combustion Synthesis of Nanoscale Magnesium Borides with Improved Hydrogen Uptake and Release, which will produce advanced materials for hydrogen storage; and
  • Metal-Organic Framework-based Heterostructure Electrocatalysts with Tailored Electron Density Distribution for Cost-Effective and Durable Fuel Cells and Electrolyzers, which aims to reduce the cost of fuel cell and electrolyzer components by eliminating platinum group metals.

Also, two projects were selected from the University of California, Riverside, which is an HSI and an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander–Serving Institution (AANAPISI). It has been recognized for having one of the most ethnically diverse student bodies in the nation. The selected projects there are:

  • Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes with Confined Chalcogens as the Catalysts and Electrodes for Oxygen Reduction Reaction in Fuel Cells, which will investigate a new type of PGM-free catalysts for use in fuel cells; and
  • Large-Scale Density Functional Tight Binding (DFTB) Calculations to Probe Structural Effects and Bridge Multiple Length Scales in Hydrogen-Metal Systems, which aims to improve understanding of the effects of hydrogen on metals for developing improved materials.

Finally, one project was selected from California State University, Los Angeles, which is also a federally recognized HSI and AANAPISI. That project is:

  • Developing Highly Porous Metal-Organic Frameworks and Composite Materials for Hydrogen Storage, which aims to develop novel materials with improved capabilities for hydrogen storage.

The DOE’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office (HFTO) provided funding for these projects through an amendment to a funding opportunity from the Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM).