DOE Names First Hydrogen Shot Incubator Winners 

Evolve’s technology can extract hydrogen from groundwater, tap water and even seawater without desalination. Prototype shown here. 

The U.S. Department of Energy has named the phase one winners of the Hydrogen Shot Incubator Prize, a $2.6 million competition to foster innovative concepts for producing clean hydrogen. With these awards, nine winning teams will each receive $60,000 for their early-stage concepts for novel hydrogen production technologies. The prizes in this phase (Propose!) consist of $10,000 in cash and $50,000 in vouchers for teams to spend at national laboratories to further develop their concepts. 

“These winning proposals embody the ingenuity this novel prize competition aims to inspire, and their concepts may soon unlock the tremendous potential for clean hydrogen production,” said Alejandro Moreno, Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “I am eagerly looking forward to the next phase of the competition and watching these innovative ideas reach their full potential.” 

Bomax combines nanoparticles, enzymes and visible light to produce green hydrogen. Visible light activates nanoparticles which emit electrons. Enzymes on the nanoparticles use electrons to convert available hydrogen ions to hydrogen gas. The resulting hydrogen is pure and doesn’t require costly filtering for use in a fuel cell. Prototype shown here. 

In the next phase, called Prove!, teams will develop their concepts and designs with the help of national laboratory experts. Submissions for that phase will include a plan with preliminary designs for a laboratory-scale demonstration, along with techno-economic and emissions analyses to validate the proposed concepts. Winners in the Prove! phase will receive $300,000 in national laboratory vouchers and $100,000 in cash to support their demonstration efforts in preparation for a Pitch Day with potential investors and commercial partners. 

The winners of the first phase, and their proposed concepts, are: 

  • BoMax Hydrogen (Sanford, FL)—a system that integrates light-activated nanoparticles with an enzyme to produce clean hydrogen from sunlight. 
  • Gold Hydrogen Team (Houston, TX)—a process using dark fermentation to biologically produce hydrogen in spent oil wells. 
  • Electro-Active Hydrogen (Knoxville, TN)—a system that integrates solar energy with algal hydrothermal liquefaction and microbial electrolysis to generate clean hydrogen, leveraging the chemical energy from organic matter. 
  • Evolve Hydrogen Inc. (East Northport, NY)—a novel electrolyzer system design that can use seawater as a feedstock without the need for precious metal materials. 
  • H3 (Palo Alto, CA)—a system that integrates high-temperature solid oxide electrolyzers with thermal energy storage to enable continuous hydrogen production even when using intermittent renewable resources. 
  • Biomass Super Gasifier (Indianapolis, IN)—an indirectly-heated pyrolytic gasification process to convert carbon-based feedstocks into syngas from which hydrogen can be extracted—with the remaining syngas used in a solid oxide fuel cell to generate power to run the system. 
  • NX Fuels Inc. (Ann Arbor, MI)—a technology that harnesses sunlight to produce hydrogen from seawater using a photoelectrochemical process. 
  • PAX H2(O) (Richmond, CA)—a technology that could reduce the capital and operating expenses of an electrolysis system by producing clean water using waste heat from the electrolyzer. 
  • The Hope Group (Lubbock, TX)—in-situ microwave-assisted catalytic heating to crack methane and generate hydrogen directly from depleted natural gas reservoirs. 

The prize supports the Hydrogen Shot goal of reducing the cost of producing clean hydrogen to $1 per kilogram within a decade, a keystone of the Biden-Harris administration’s decarbonization agenda.