Hub to Promote Decarbonization of Heavy-Duty Transportation

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory is constructing a research and development (R&D) test facility to create and independently test large-scale fuel cell systems for heavy-duty and off-road applications, with hydrogen emerging as an important strategy to decarbonize transportation and combat climate change.

hydrogen development

Image Credit: bovall/

A fuel cell converts the chemical energy of hydrogen or other fuels into clean and efficient power. When hydrogen is used as fuel, only electricity, water, and heat are produced. The Argonne laboratory will evaluate fuel cell technologies for use in transportation applications, such as trucks, railroad locomotives, marine vessels, aircraft, and the agriculture, construction, and mining industries.

The Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office (HFTO) of the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy provides around $4 million to assist the initiative. The objective is to increase heavy-duty fuel cell systems' performance, durability, dependability, and efficiency while decreasing their cost.

When the facility opens in the fall of 2025, the industry will have access to a dedicated location and support staff for testing and validating polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cell systems with outputs ranging from 150 to 600 kW.

Few manufacturers can test and validate such large-scale fuel cell devices independently, and several have expressed interest in the DOE national laboratories’ ability to do so.

Argonne's facility will operate in a hardware-in-the-loop environment, simulating the powertrains of all on—and off-road heavy-duty vehicles by using the laboratory's globally renowned Autonomie software for application duty cycle instructions.

Providing the opportunity for independent, rigorous testing of first-of-a-kind, large-scale fuel cell systems will accelerate technology development and help identify challenges requiring further R&D. Such capabilities leverage the national labs’ expertise and help to de-risk the technology before industry launches larger scale demonstrations and deployments.

Sunita Satyapal, Director, Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office, US Department of Energy

Ted Krause, laboratory relationship manager for Argonne’s hydrogen and fuel cell programs, added, “The facility will serve as a national resource for analysis and testing of heavy-duty fuel cell systems for developers, technology integrators and end-users in heavy-duty transportation applications including trucks, railroad locomotives, marine vessels, aircraft and vehicles used in the agriculture, construction and mining industries. The testing infrastructure will help advance fuel cell performance and pave the way toward integrating the technology into all of these transportation applications.

The project expands on the laboratory's vast background in fuel cell research, which includes running the Argonne Fuel Cell Test Facility from 1996 to 2012. The lab has successfully tested and developed modern PEM fuel cell technologies for stationary and automotive power production.

Argonne also manages many transportation initiatives for the DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Office and other offices.


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