Bioenergy, Storage

DOE, USDA Partnership Eyes Hydrogen

An effort has been struck between the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) aimed at the development of hydrogen technologies, with an emphasis on the production of hydrogen from biomass resources.

“Biomass technologies hold great promise for our rural communities and are a promising route to renewable hydrogen production,” Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman said, while announcing the agreement. “By working together to make production of hydrogen from biomass more cost-effective, we are moving the nation one step closer to a hydrogen economy and energy independence.” In this arrangement, DOE and USDA experts will meet regularly to share information on technologies and activities of mutual interest related to reducing the cost of chemically converting biomass to hydrogen. Biomass sources that can be used for hydrogen production include ethanol, crop and forest residues, and dedicated energy crops such as switchgrass or willow. This collaboration could help speed the deployment of emerging technologies – such as stationary fuel cells that can provide remote electric power for agricultural uses. “This partnership will hasten the day when hydrogen and fuel cell technologies are providing affordable domestic energy throughout our rural communities and the agriculture and forestry industries,” said Agriculture Secretary Johanns. Transitioning to hydrogen technologies in the agriculture industry and in rural communities can be important for a number of reasons, according to the two Secretaries: Renewable, farm-based biomass can fuel hydrogen production; energy-hungry agricultural vehicles fueled by hydrogen can have the same efficiency and environmental benefits planned for light-duty cars and trucks; and hydrogen fuel cell technology can provide power for remote locations and communities. DOE and USDA are also working together through the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Research and Development Interagency Task Force, which is part of the President’s National Science and Technology Council. The MOU announced today will strengthen that relationship and help expand the use of hydrogen technologies throughout the nation.