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Pathways to Commercial Success: Technologies and Innovations Enabled by the U.S. Department of Energy Fuel Cell Technologies Office

Oct 11, 2017

This report updates the results of an effort to identify and document the commercial and emerging hydrogen and fuel cell technologies and products that resulted from U.S. Department of Energy support through the Fuel Cell Technologies Office in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) has been instrumental in fostering research and development (R&D) in the realm of hydrogen and fuel cells. The annual report delves into the tangible outcomes of this support, particularly focusing on the innovations that led to U.S. patents and the technologies that have been, or are on the cusp of being, commercialized.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) was entrusted with the task of conducting a comprehensive study on this subject. Their findings revealed a total of 650 patents associated with FCTO-backed research since 1977. These patents encompass various domains, including fuel cells, hydrogen production/delivery, and hydrogen storage. Notably, a significant portion of these patents remains active, either being utilized in ongoing research endeavors or in the development of commercial products.

Furthermore, PNNL's research highlighted the commercialization trajectory of the industry. They identified 50 technologies that have transitioned from the lab to the market. An interesting trend was observed: while from 2000-2006, an average of 1.5 technologies were commercialized annually, this number saw a substantial jump between 2007-2015, with an average of 4.0 technologies entering the market each year. In 2016 alone, two novel technologies made their market debut. These commercial ventures also had a positive economic impact, supporting the creation or retention of 534 jobs in 2016.

Looking ahead, the study identified 76 promising technologies that are poised to be commercially available within the next 3 to 5 years. These emerging technologies span across fuel cell areas, production/delivery sectors, and storage domains.

Read the study here:

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