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2011 Annual Merit Review Awards

Each year, the Peer Review Panel at the Annual Merit Review and Peer Evaluation Meeting reviews the hydrogen and fuel cell projects funded by DOE's Hydrogen Program. After evaluating the merit of the 2011 hydrogen and fuel cell projects, the Peer Review Panel presented the following awards.

DOE Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program Team Awards (with special recognition for outstanding technical contributions):


Tom Jaramillo, Stanford University

This award recognizes Tom Jaramillo for the invaluable contributions he has made to the program in the field of photoelectrochemical (PEC) hydrogen production. Dr. Jaramillo has been an instrumental driving force in EERE's PEC research efforts since the early 2000s as a graduate student in Dr. Eric McFarland's PEC laboratory at University of California, Santa Barbara. He has since established his own Electro-catalysis Lab at Stanford, setting new standards for catalyst and PEC R&D. His innovative approach to PEC using quantum-confined nano-catalysts loaded onto meso-porous conducting scaffolds has received much well-deserved attention in both the fundamental and applied research communities. The Stanford work has produced a novel process for synthesizing size-controlled molybdenum-disulfide nano-particles down to 5 nanometers in diameter with quantum-confined bandgaps up to 1.8eV. As a new breed of photo-catalysts, these nano-particles are optimized for both solar energy collection and for hydrogen evolution catalysis, exhibiting exceptional activity and stability over greater than 10,000 cycles. As a bridge to practical application, Dr. Jaramillo's group at Stanford is also developing novel transparent-conducting meso-porous scaffolds to support the photo-catalysts, with effective surface areas of 200x and through-resistances of 0.1 ohms per micrometer achieved to date. Demonstrating excellence in both technical and leadership roles, Dr. Jaramillo serves as co-chair of the Fuel Cell Technologies Office's PEC Working Group, and is a member of DOE's "Solar Fuels Innovation Hub" team funded through the Office of Science.


Petros Sofronis and Ian Robertson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

This award recognizes Petros Sofronis and Ian Robertson for their valuable technical contributions toward the understanding of the effects of hydrogen on pipeline steels. Their theory on the hydrogen-induced shielding of defect interactions is the first to explain the mechanism of hydrogen enhanced localized plasticity observed in hydrogen-induced fracture phenomena. This work is instrumental in devising fracture criteria for safe and reliable large-scale transport of hydrogen through pipelines, which represents the lowest cost method of delivering hydrogen from the production site to the forecourt. Their research has involved extensive computational and experimental analysis, as well as the development of strong collaboration with industry, national laboratories, and international institutions. The latter has been recently leveraged through the formation of a new international institute, the Institute for Carbon-Neutral Energy Research of Kyushu University, which is focused on developing the underlying science required to overcome the barriers to hydrogen adoption and is funded by the Japanese government.

Fuel Cells

Nenad Markovic, Argonne National Laboratory

This award recognizes Nenad Markovic for his work on reducing the content of platinum group metals in oxygen reduction catalysts in polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells. This year, Dr. Markovic's team continued development of nanosegregated PtNi catalysts with mass activities of 0.35 A/mg at 0.9 V in membrane electrode assembly (MEA) testing, more than 3 times the activity of conventional carbon supported platinum (0.1 A/mg). A leader in the field of cathode catalysis, Dr. Markovic uses the relationship between oxygen reduction activity and d-band center shift to pioneer the materials-by-design approach for research and development of advanced nanosegregated multi-metallic nanoparticles and nanostructured thin metal films. His key accomplishments also include R&D of MEAs using PtNi/C nanoparticles with multilayered skin that have ˜3 times higher specific and mass activities than benchmark Pt/C catalysts; after 20,000 cycles from 0.6-0.925 V, the activity loss was only 12% (˜ 0.7 mA/cm2 Pt), while commercially available Pt/C and PtM/C catalysts suffer a loss of 20-50%. In addition, Dr. Markovic and his team leverage the work they carry out for the Office of Basic Energy Sciences to gain a fundamental understanding of the relationship between catalyst structure and composition and catalyst performance to make practical catalysts for the EERE program.

Systems Analysis

Marc Melaina, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

This award recognizes Marc Melaina for the valuable technical and programmatic support he provides to the Program and his leadership of the NREL analysis team. Dr. Melaina has been instrumental in leading the development of the Fuel Cell Power Model and other NREL sponsored models and analysis of hydrogen for energy storage. The Fuel Cell Power model is a "first of its kind" model that provides a transparent and common input platform to evaluate financial investment, cost, and environmental benefits of stationary fuel cell options including Combined Heat, Hydrogen, and Power generation and to support investment decisions. The model is currently being used by national laboratories and industry to evaluate fuel cell opportunities at various campuses and installations.

One of Dr. Melaina's key recent contributions has been the analysis and evaluation of the infrastructure development for hydrogen fueling stations, which included industry, DOE, national laboratories, and academia. Throughout this project Dr. Melaina and his team worked to identify areas of cost reduction and highlight key constraints for infrastructure construction and deployment. They engaged domestic and international stakeholders in meetings to assess constraints and cost drivers for the development of early market and transition hydrogen fueling infrastructure for light duty fuel cell vehicles. In conjunction with these meetings, Dr. Melaina and his team developed a model to assess the current cost of hydrogen based on current equipment and operating expenses and the potential for future cost reduction from "learning by doing" and economies of scale.

Safety, Codes & Standards

Jeffrey Lynn LaChance, Sandia National Laboratories

This award recognizes Jeffrey Lynn LaChance for his contribution to developing a framework for incorporating hydrogen-specific risk information into the code development process, specifically separation distances. Separation distances define the spatial requirements of hydrogen systems, such as refueling stations, and are some of the most influential requirements that must be considered during the permitting of new installations. The developed framework allows for incorporation of sparse risk data (including frequency and consequence) and expert opinion into the code requirement development process. This framework improves on the previous methods which were based solely on expert opinion or experience and resulted in overly conservative requirement specification to accommodate uncertainty. The framework has been used to develop separation distance requirements in NFPA 55, 52, and 2, the International Fire Code, and ISO TC 197 Working Group. In addition, the framework shapes the future by allowing for refinement of the specified requirements as new data becomes available from existing systems. Dr. LaChance is recognized as an international leader in the area of risk-informed requirements development of hydrogen systems and has a proven ability to coordinate with researchers, users, and standards developers to achieve program goals. His efforts have resulted in a documented science-based approach to the specification of requirements for hydrogen installations that result in the most appropriate code requirement language. Dr. LaChance's expertise in risk assessments continues to be leveraged nationally and internationally — most recently in Fukushima, Japan in response to the tsunami's impact on energy systems.

Safety, Codes & Standards

Bill Houf, Sandia National Laboratories

This award recognizes Bill Houf for providing the scientific basis for specifying separation distance requirements through the development of validated models of unintended hydrogen releases. Separation distances define the spatial requirements of hydrogen systems, such as in refueling stations, and are some of the most influential requirements that must be considered during the permitting of new installations. The models that Dr. Houf has developed have been used in the separation distance requirement development process performed in NFPA 55, 52, and 2, the International Fire Code, and the ISO TC 197 Working Group. Dr. Houf provides international leadership by performing objective, scientific research specifically for Codes and Standards development. Dr. Houf has transformed the way scientific data is utilized in the code development process by developing easy-to-use engineering models validated with experiments to provide consequence information for the risk assessment process. Dr. Houf's work results in standards and requirements that are based on real scientific data that is documented by defensible references. Dr. Houf's breadth of expertise in computational fluid dynamics and ignition modeling of unintended hydrogen releases has continually proven to be a resource for industry, standards development organizations, and the research community.


Jason Morgan, Ballard Material Products

This award recognizes Jason Morgan for his work to reduce fabrication costs of polymer electrolyte membrane gas diffusion layers (GDLs) for near-term fuel cell markets, such as back-up power and material handling. Since the project began at the end of 2008, Mr. Morgan and his team at Ballard have reduced the high-volume fabrication costs of GDLs by more than 50% from $36/kW to $16/kW by moving to full-width production (from half-width) and full-length manufacturing, by installing new web-handling equipment, and by implementing better process control tools, such as mass flow meters to control loadings of material for the microporous layer. All of these efforts improved product yields, reduced scrap, and led to more than a factor of 4 increase in plant capacity. Finally, Mr. Morgan and his team implemented multilayer coating and in-line mixing at the single cell level; these efforts will lead to further cost reduction when used in actual full-scale production.

Market Transformation

Dr. Leonard Klebanoff, Sandia National Laboratories

This award recognizes Dr. Leonard Klebanoff for his leadership in spearheading the deployment of fuel cells for mobile lighting applications. Dr. Klebanoff and his team assembled a comprehensive group of technical experts, manufacturers, and end users to build fuel cell mobile light units and field-test them in real-world applications. These partners provided substantial contributions to the project and included Altergy Systems, Boeing, California Department of Transportation, California Fuel Cell Partnership, Golden State Energy, Lumenworks, Luxim, Multiquip Inc., Ovonic Hydrogen Systems, Paramount Pictures, Saunders Electric Inc., and Stray Light Optical Technologies.

Used in the construction, aviation ground support, and entertainment industries, most similar mobile lighting applications are powered by diesel generation. A fuel cell powered mobile lighting system running on hydrogen produced from renewables used in lieu of a diesel engine can reduce NOx and PM emissions by nearly 100%. Fuel cell powered mobile lighting also significantly reduces noise, achieving near silent operation. The fuel cell mobile light combines a fuel cell design and extendable 30-foot mast in a towable package and was recently demonstrated at the Academy Awards and Golden Globe Awards.


Joel Rinebold, Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology (CCAT)

This award recognizes Joel Rinebold for his work on the advancement of fuel cell and hydrogen technologies, energy and infrastructure planning and the development of renewable and advanced energy technologies for Connecticut and the Northeast. As the Director of Energy Initiatives at CCAT, Dr. Rinebold supports the Fuel Cell Technologies Office's educational outreach efforts through a number of innovative initiatives. Notable examples include collaborative educational outreach efforts that span the Northeast with groups such as the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association, the development of models that forecast job growth and economic development impacts attributable to the fuel cell industry and its supply chain, the publication of state-level or regional-level roadmaps to develop hydrogen infrastructure or to place fuel cells for distributed generation in the Northeast, and the development of economic analysis models to help potential fuel cell customers evaluate the life-cycle costs and benefits of deploying fuel cells.

CCAT has successfully developed a Fuel Cell Economic Development Plan in Connecticut, and is expanding the application of the "Regional Resource Center", developed through the project, to facilitate the implementation of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies throughout New England, New York and Pennsylvania. CCAT's efforts in Connecticut have resulted in the identification of public policy and funding, creation of analytical models, and the mapping of potential locations for project development. CCAT's education project also facilitated the development of Hydrogen/Fuel Cell Roadmaps for the New England region.

DOE Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program Awards, with special recognition for outstanding contributions over the years:

George Sverdrup

This award recognizes Dr. George Sverdrup for his past and continued outstanding contribution and dedication to EERE's Fuel Cell Technologies (FCT) Office. As the Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program Manager at DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Dr. Sverdrup has worked tirelessly at managing NREL's hydrogen and fuel cell activities funded by the FCT Office and ensuring high quality deliverables across a broad range of technology areas. He has consistently and systematically done an exceptional job at keeping DOE managers informed of progress, key issues, and external developments, taking the initiative to create fact sheets and progress briefs to communicate the outstanding work being conducted throughout his program. He is vigilant in his oversight of milestones to ensure high quality, well-documented work, and clearly demonstrates how NREL's milestones and activities are directly aligned with DOE goals. As evidence of his excellent strategic management, he has developed a high quality technical staff to ensure that NREL will be a center of energy efficiency and renewable energy for the Nation. Under his leadership, NREL has contributed to nearly ten accomplishments highlighted as major accomplishments for the entire FCT Office just in the past year: photoelectrochemical hydrogen production, reforming of bio-oils, renewable electrolysis, DOE-DOT collaboration on fuel cell transit buses, fuel cell lab durability analysis, technology validation, biogas availability as feedstock for fuel cells, cost analysis of hydrogen fueling stations, and fuel cell data analysis for Recovery Act projects. Dr. Sverdrup has provided DOE with valuable insight, leadership, and support over the years.

Jim Miller

This award is given to Dr. Jim Miller jointly by EERE's Vehicle Technologies and Fuel Cell Technologies offices for his support and leadership over the last two decades across both programs. Beginning in the early 1990s, Dr. Miller was the lead of the Fuel Cells for Transportation Program at Argonne National Laboratory, in direct support of the EERE's program that had just begun. He led the Electrochemical Technology R&D at Argonne (including fuel cell and battery research) for more than 15 years. During his tenure, Dr. Miller provided technical management of the project to build the first DOE-sponsored fuel cell vehicles, convincingly demonstrating the feasibility of using fuel cells to power real-world vehicles operating on methanol. He also worked with DOE program managers to bring the U.S. OEMs into the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV) and, subsequently, the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership, which led to the development and demonstration of prototype fuel cell passenger cars by each of the Detroit "Big Three."