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DOE marking $30M toward solid oxide fuel cell & hydrogen production R&D for power generation

Perhaps seeing the move of private industry into hydrogen technologies for power generation, the U.S. Department of Energy announced it will provide up to $30 million for cost-shared research and development projects focused on small scale solid oxide fuel cells.

The funding opportunity announcement (FOA) seeks to develop advanced technologies which can take the small scale solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) hybrid systems by using solid oxide electrolyzer cell technologies. The end goal is achieving commercial readiness for hydrogen production and power generation.

Many longtime power technology players are developing hydrogen-focused power generation systems. Those include Mitsubishi, Siemens, GE, Ansaldo , Caterpillar and MAN Energy Solutions. Hydrogen, which does not emit carbon when burned, can be used in hybrid natural gas-fired turbines and, perhaps, fuel-cell automotive transportation.

“The Department of Energy plays an important role in advancing innovation to provide clean and reliable energy for the American people,” said Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette. “This research on SOFC is intended to lower the cost of SOFC systems to a level where they are cost-competitive with alternate technologies with minimal subsidies. The Trump Administration supports researching these advanced technologies and working with private industry to make these systems commercially available for power generation and hydrogen production.”

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This FOA will solicit applications for multiple areas of interest and will correspond to research outlined in DOE’s August 2019 report to Congress, Report on the Status of the Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Program

“SOFC that are ready to be utilized by commercial customers will help us meet global emissions targets, as well as make hydrogen production more widely available than ever before,” said Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steven Winberg, who is scheduled to be one of the keynote speakers at POWERGEN International’s Leadership Summit this December in Orlando. “The projects resulting from this funding opportunity represent a significant step that will benefit the United States and ultimately our global partners for decades to come.”

Applications will be sought in three areas: 1) Small-scale distributed power generation SOFC systems; 2) Hybrid systems using solid oxide systems for hydrogen and electricity production; and 3) Cleaning process for coal-derived syngas to be used as SOFC fuel and testing of single and multiple cells on syngas.