Stanford University

News Service



Maxine Lym, Global Climate and Energy Project: (650) 725-3228,

Relevant Web URLs:
Global Climate and Energy Project

Hydrogen research earns $5.1 million in Global Climate and Energy Project grants

The Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP) has awarded four projects a total of $5.1 million to research the use of hydrogen as an energy carrier. Stanford faculty from a range of disciplines will lead the individual research efforts, and the projects will be funded over a three-year period beginning January 2004.

"Our faculty responded quickly with good proposals to the challenge we offered: Propose research that, if successful, would help enable creation of energy systems with low emissions of greenhouse gases," said GCEP Director Lynn Orr.

Launched at Stanford in December 2002, GCEP is a long-term collaborative effort between the scientific and engineering community at research institutions and private industry. Its purpose is to conduct fundamental, pre-commercial research that would foster the development of a global energy system with significantly lower greenhouse emissions. With funding of $225 million from its sponsors, GCEP has begun to investigate a spectrum of research areas for our energy future.

Hydrogen offers the potential to be a virtually pollution-free fuel since it produces only water when used in engines, fuel cells or other energy systems. However, many questions remain regarding possible greenhouse gas emissions from the production of hydrogen fuel. Moreover, the safe and effective storage and use of hydrogen, as well as the costs of the required technologies and the associated infrastructure, need to be examined further.

The four new projects include:

  • "Nanoengineering of Hybrid Carbon Nanotube ----Metal Nanocluster Composite Materials for Hydrogen Storage" led by Kyeongjae "K. J." Cho of Mechanical Engineering, Bruce Clemens of Materials Science and Engineering, Hongjie Dai of Chemistry and Anders Nilsson of the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory -- awarded $2,250,000.
  • "Hydrogen Effects on Climate, Stratospheric Ozone and Air Pollution" led by Mark Z. Jacobson of Civil and Environmental Engineering and David M. Golden of Mechanical Engineering -- awarded $797,125.
  • "Solid-State NMR Studies of Oxide Ion Conducting Ceramics for Enhanced Fuel Cell Performance" led by Jonathan Stebbins of Geological and Environmental Sciences -- awarded $1,133,476.
  • "Nanostructured Photovoltaic Cells" led by Mike McGehee of Materials Science and Engineering -- awarded $897,207.

"I am extremely excited to be a part of this GCEP project and to have an opportunity to help solve one of the world's most important problems," said McGehee, one of the award recipients. "The level of funding will enable my research team to take a very aggressive approach toward electrolytically generating hydrogen with new low-cost solar cells."

In June of this year, GCEP requested proposals from Stanford faculty and was particularly interested in approaches or technologies that are high-risk/high-reward in the area of hydrogen production, storage and use.

Eight proposals were received and sent out for external, independent reviews -- first by specialists in the technical areas of each proposal, then by experts in the overall field of hydrogen. The panel of hydrogen experts ranked the projects in terms of their scientific quality and their relevance to GCEP's goal of a low-greenhouse-gas future. After detailed discussions about each proposal, the panel members and GCEP central staff came to a consensus on which ones were strongest, and a slate of four projects was recommended for funding.

"A large group of thorough external reviewers worked hard to complete the review process much more quickly than is common in other competitions for funding," Orr said.

The slate of hydrogen-related projects was then approved by the GCEP Management Committee, which includes representatives of the project's sponsors -- ExxonMobil, GE, Schlumberger and Toyota.

"I'm glad that I will be surrounded by other researchers with a wide variety of expertise who will be looking at ways to generate, store, transport and use hydrogen," McGehee said. "I think that together the GCEP teams have a great chance of making hydrogen a viable source of fuel."

The GCEP committee members noted that important aspects of the approved projects could affect other areas -- beyond hydrogen -- of the broad GCEP research portfolio.

The project is conducting assessments in other areas including renewable energy, carbon capture and storage, and advanced materials. In the future, it will sponsor additional research at Stanford and other universities and institutions.


Maxine Lym is communications manager for the Global Climate and Energy Project.


By Maxine Lym

© Stanford University. All Rights Reserved. Stanford, CA 94305. (650) 723-2300. Terms of Use  |  Copyright Complaints