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Consortium SimpleFuel wins US$1 million

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

The US Department of Energy's (DOE) Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) and the Hydrogen Education Foundation (HEF) recently announced the competition finalist SimpleFuel as the winner of the US$1 million H2 Refuel H-Prize. This success can support economic growth, jobs, and domestic leadership in cutting edge energy technology.

The SimpleFuelTM team, a consortium made up of Ivys Energy Solutions, McPhy Energy North America and PDC Machines, designed their system to be a safe, small scale hydrogen-refuelling appliance capable of delivering up to 5 kg/d of hydrogen to vehicles at pressures up to 700 bar (10 000 psi). 5 kg is enough to fully fuel one fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) for 300 - 360 miles.

"In 2007, Congress established this competition, with bipartisan support, to inspire creative approaches and advances for hydrogen energy technologies," stated Jeff Serfass, President of the Hydrogen Education Foundation. "The development of the hydrogen infrastructure became the target of this competition, and I am pleased that DOE and HEF together have delivered on the objective for the H-Prize with SimpleFuel's grand achievement," Serfass concluded.

Phase 1 of the competition was launched in 2014, when America's engineers and entrepreneurs were invited to answer the call to design and build an affordable system for small scale, non-commercial hydrogen fuelling. After receiving and evaluating nine design submissions in 2015, one team – SimpleFuel – was selected by an independent panel of judges as the Finalist, to advance to Phase 2.

SimpleFuel constructed their system in 2016 in Warminster, Pennsylvania, followed by a three month data collection period, which ended in December 2016. During that time, an open house event was held, which was attend by DOE FCTO Director Sunita Satyapal, at which the team demonstrated their system by conducting a fuelling of a Hyundai Tucson FCEV.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) analysed the data collected during that testing period, and the cost information provided by the team was also independently reviewed. The H-Prize panel of judges deemed that the data collected showed that SimpleFuel's system met both the technical and cost criteria as outlined in the final competition guidelines, thereby unanimously declaring them the winner of the H2 Refuel H-Prize.

Hydrogen infrastructure remains a critical barrier to the widespread adoption of FCEVs. The future of FCEVs in a consumer environment is dependent upon a widely available network of fuelling stations. At the current early stage of market introduction, there will be a need for small scale refuelling to serve communities and residences far from the commercial hydrogen fuelling station network. The H2 Refuel competition was designed to help address this barrier through easily deployed small scale fuelling systems for home and community use to bridge the gap while widespread infrastructure development takes place.

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