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2021 Annual Merit Review Awards

Each year, at the Annual Merit Review and Peer Evaluation Meeting, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Hydrogen Program presents awards for contributions to the overall efforts of the Program and to recognize achievements in specific areas.

Hydrogen Program Special Recognition Award

Giner, Inc.—Cortney Mittelsteadt, Hui Xu, Monjid Hamdan

This award recognizes Giner, Inc., represented by Hui Xu, Monjid Hamdan (now Plug Power), and Cortney Mittlesteadt (now Plug Power), for outstanding contributions to advancing the state-of-the-art in fuel cell and electrolyzer technologies. Over the past 20 years, DOE’s Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer Office and Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office (HFTO) have funded Giner, Inc. (Giner Electrochemical Systems and Giner ELX) to research, develop, and demonstrate a vast array of electrochemical technologies to support HFTO objectives, from novel polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cell components for automotive applications (e.g., non-platinum-group-metal catalysts, dimensionally stable membranes, hydrocarbon membranes, bilayer gas diffusion layers, high-oxygen-permeable ionomers, and electrodes fabricated for high durability) to advanced high-efficiency, low-cost anion exchange membrane (AEM) and PEM electrolyzers for hydrogen fuel generation, and reversible fuel cells for renewable energy storage and power generation. Giner, starting out as a small business in 1973, has grown by leveraging key innovations and expertise into commercial success with its spin-offs Giner Life Sciences and Giner ELX (which was recently bought by Plug Power in 2020). Giner, Inc. remains a strong source of innovation in the U.S. hydrogen and fuel cell industry, and we look forward to future achievements.

Hydrogen Technologies—Production

Katherine Ayers, Nel Hydrogen; Olga Marina, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; Ellen Stechel, Arizona State University; Chengxiang Xiang, Caltech; Karl Gross, H2 Technology Consulting LLC; and George Roberts, TechScale Solutions, LLC

This award is presented to Katherine Ayers of Nel Hydrogen, Olga Marina of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Ellen Stechel of Arizona State University, Chengxiang Xiang of the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis at California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Karl Gross of H2 Technology Consulting, and George Roberts of TechScale Solutions for successfully leading the development of benchmarks and test protocols for advanced water splitting (AWS) technologies, including low- and high-temperature electrolysis, photoelectrochemical, and solar thermochemical water splitting. This team has coordinated annual, widely attended international workshops of experts from the field and drafted an initial set of protocols that will be published in a high-impact, peer-reviewed journal. This effort is expected to significantly accelerate AWS technology development by enabling publication of consistent and reproducible results throughout the water-splitting community.

Fuel Cells

Swami Kumaraguru, General Motors

This award recognizes Swami Kumaraguru of General Motors for significantly advancing the understanding of fuel cell system durability, particularly at the system level. His work investigated single-variable and multi-variable effects on durability, including the upper voltage limit, cerium migration, temperature, and humidity, contributing substantially to the body of knowledge on fuel cell system durability. Dr. Kumaraguru has also collaborated with Argonne National Laboratory to improve the accuracy of fuel cell system modeling, accelerating the development of new and improved fuel cell technologies.

Brian James, Jennie Huya-Kouadio, and Cassidy Houchins, Strategic Analysis, Inc.; and Rajesh Ahluwalia and Xiaohua Wang, Argonne National Laboratory

This award recognizes Brian James, Jennie Huya-Kouadio, and Cassidy Houchins of Strategic Analysis, Inc., and Rajesh Ahluwalia and Xiaohua Wang of Argonne National Laboratory for their cost analysis of fuel cell technologies. Their analysis of fuel cell electric vehicle cost, adjusted to account for durability, and their cost analysis of fuel cells for long-haul fuel cell trucks provide valuable information that helps to direct future R&D efforts.

Technology Acceleration

Rob Hovsapian, Kazunori Nagasawa, Sam Sprik, Michael Peters, and Cory Kreutzer, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

This award recognizes Rob Hovsapian, Kazunori Nagasawa, Sam Sprik, Michael Peters, and Cory Kreutzer of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory for leadership in R&D that evaluated the ability of polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) electrolyzers to respond to fluctuations in grid signals within sub-seconds, in support of DOE’s H2@Scale initiative. Over the past 5 years, the team has simulated several different grid events and conditions within power-hardware-in-the-loop testing, including loss of generation, demand spikes from fast charging of battery electric vehicles, and routine fluctuations in power supply at high penetrations of renewable generation. The team’s test results are referenced globally and have been essential to establishing the viability of hydrogen technologies for long duration storage of renewable energy.

Technology Acceleration and Safety, Codes and Standards

Brian Ehrhart, Sandia National Laboratories

This award recognizes Brian Ehrhart of Sandia National Laboratories for his exceptional contributions in hydrogen codes and standards and risk assessment to enable the safe deployment of hydrogen at scale. Ehrhart’s expertise in risk assessment has resulted in the development and release of versions 2.0 and 3.0 of the Hydrogen Risk Assessment Models (HyRAM). HyRAM now incorporates liquid hydrogen capabilities, a critical addition to support large-scale deployment of hydrogen. Ehrhart led an effort to assess the current state of regulations, codes, and standards, resulting in the Federal Oversight of Hydrogen Systems report and a gap analysis for rail applications. His efforts in these areas continue to inform the safe utilization of hydrogen for applications beyond light-duty transportation and enable the success of H2@Scale.

Systems Analysis

Chad Hunter, Joshua Eichman, Michael Penev, and Evan Reznicek, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

This award recognizes Chad Hunter, Joshua Eichman, Michael Penev, and Evan Reznicek of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory for comprehensive analysis of the cost of long duration energy storage technologies in high-renewables grids. This work evaluated the levelized cost of 14 different energy storage systems over durations of 12 hours to multiple days, and identified key drivers of each system’s cost in two scenarios of grid operation. The team engaged a wide base of stakeholders to provide technical review and guidance, including the Electric Power Research Institute and several member utilities, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), and technical experts from across eight DOE offices. This work lays a strong foundation for future DOE analysis in energy storage, and has already informed subsequent publications in support of DOE’s Energy Storage Grand Challenge.