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NREL to develop advanced water splitting for hydrogen production

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has announced it will lead a new consortium for the development of advanced water splitting materials for hydrogen production.

The Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has formed a new consortium with five other national labs intended to accelerate the development of commercially viable pathways for hydrogen production from renewable energy sources. The consortium, named HydroGEN Advanced Water Splitting Materials Consortium (HydroGEN), also includes Sandia National Laboratories, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Savannah River National Laboratory.

HydroGEN is being funded by the Energy Department's Fuel Cell Technologies Office in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) at approximately US$10 million/y (subject to appropriations) including investments in national lab capabilities and funding opportunities for the general public.

Currently, the Energy Department funds research to develop low carbon hydrogen production pathways including advanced electrolysis, photoelectrochemical hydrogen production, and solar thermochemical hydrogen production. By establishing HydroGEN, the department intends to accelerate the development of these pathways by enhancing the accessibility of national lab resources to external stakeholders and establishing robust online portals to capture and share the results of non-proprietary research. The consortium's newly launched website details mechanisms for external stakeholders to leverage HydroGEN's capabilities.

Dr. Huyen N. Dinh, from NREL's Chemistry and Nanoscience Center, will be the director for HydroGEN. "HydroGEN brings together capabilities that can only be found in the national lab system and makes them easily available to material developers in academia and industry," Dinh said. "Our research strategy integrates computational tools and modelling, material synthesis, process and manufacturing scale-up, characterisation, system integration, data management, and analysis to accelerate advanced water splitting material development."

In February, the Energy Department announced the launch of the Energy Materials Network (EMN), an initiative crafted to give US entrepreneurs and manufacturers a competitive edge in the global race for clean energy. EMN focuses on tackling one of the major barriers to widespread commercialisation of clean energy technologies-namely the design, testing, and production of advanced materials. By strengthening and facilitating industry access to the unique scientific and technical advanced materials innovation resources available at the Energy Department's national labs, the network will help industry bring these materials to market more quickly.

As part of the EMN, the HydroGEN consortium will provide industry and academia the expertise and capabilities to more quickly develop, characterise, and deploy high performance, low cost advanced water splitting materials for lower cost hydrogen production.

HydroGEN will address advanced water splitting materials challenges by:

  • Making novel national lab capabilities, expertise, techniques, and equipment relevant to advanced water splitting materials research more accessible to external stakeholders, including researchers in industry, academia, and other laboratories.
  • Establishing robust online data portals that capture and share the results of non-proprietary research.
  • Facilitating collaboration between researchers working on the three water splitting pathways and addressing common materials challenges and resource needs, such as high throughput synthesis techniques and auxiliary component design.


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