Lipinski Announces "Competition is Open" for First $1 Million H-Prize to Help Free America from Oil Dependence (September 3, 2009)
Today, Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-03) announced that the U.S. Department of Energy is now soliciting entries for the first $1 million prize to be awarded under the H-Prize Act that Lipinski introduced and that became law in December 2007. This is the first in a series of H-Prize awards that will be given for advances in the use of hydrogen as a clean alternative fuel for transportation. Congressman Lipinski's H-Prize is designed to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil and protect the environment by inspiring researchers to capitalize on hydrogen's tremendous promise as a fuel source.
"Today I am proud to announce that the competition is open for the first H-Prize," Lipinski said. "I introduced the H-Prize Act and fought to get it enacted into law because I believe America must pioneer the development of alternative energy and work toward energy independence. Our reliance on increasingly expensive foreign fossil fuels is a threat to our national security, the economy, and the environment. Producing power with hydrogen has the potential to revolutionize the transportation and energy sectors by replacing polluting, gas-guzzling engines with an efficient source of clean power that frees America from dependence on unfriendly nations."
The H-Prize Act was introduced by Lipinski and Rep. Bob Inglis of South Carolina and passed into law as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. The act authorizes over $50 million in cash prizes for advances in hydrogen energy technology. Last week, the Department of Energy released the rules that will govern the inaugural competition, opening it to entries. The timeline issued by the department would result in a single $1 million prize being awarded in February 2011. This would be the first award made under Congressman Lipinski's legislation.
A number of major automotive companies have already produced hydrogen-powered vehicles whose performance is comparable to that of their gasoline-powered cousins. But obstacles still exist to the widespread production and adoption of hydrogen vehicles, including price, fuel-cell durability, the small number of hydrogen refueling stations, and the consequent need to increase the amount of hydrogen that can be stored aboard vehicles. The H-Prize is intended to motivate researchers to overcome these hurdles.
"The H-Prize is a win for taxpayers, national security, the economy, and the environment," Lipinski said. "It provides funding that is relatively modest in the context of the federal budget, but still constitutes a substantial incentive for individuals and organizations to undertake cutting-edge research. And it sets specific technical benchmarks that submissions must meet before they can receive an award, ensuring the prize money will be well spent."
The inaugural $1 million H-Prize will be awarded for an advance in hydrogen storage materials that results in such benefits as quicker refueling and increased hydrogen storage capacity in cars and light trucks. Greater storage capacity would increase the distance hydrogen vehicles can travel between refueling, helping to make the technology more immediately viable. The winning entry must meet strict technical criteria. Future prizes may be awarded for innovations in hydrogen production, distribution, utilization, prototypes, and transformational technologies.
The H-Prize is managed by the Department of Energy and administered by the nonprofit Hydrogen Education Foundation, which supports the work of the National Hydrogen Association. For more information on the H-Prize, visit www.hydrogenprize.org.
(September 3, 2009)