Supporting the Department of Energy

The Western Interstate Hydrogen Hub (WISHH), and the nation to meet ambitious decarbonization goals.

Los Alamos is assisting the State of New Mexico, the Western Interstate Hydrogen Hub (WISHH), and the Department of Energy by sharing its expertise, technology, and capabilities in the hydrogen value chain. Our scientific leadership, experience, and knowledge can accelerate the maturation of our partners’ technologies and methodologies from conceptual stages, to deployment stages, to testing and validation of product and application development.

Hydrogen in the news

Los Alamos supports companies and innovators who are envisioning and building market solutions to meet ambitious low-carbon requirements and customer expectations for a future full of greener choices.

  • Pursuing a green energy future with carbon capture and storage (LANL YouTube)
    As the urgency increases to head off the worst effects of climate change, the airwaves and internet are buzzing with talk about how carbon capture and storage support various strategies to keep excess carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. What’s often missing from the discussion, though, is the science of how it works and how capturing and storing CO2 can make a huge difference as the economy shifts from dependence on oil and gas to renewable alternatives.

  • Scientist at Los Alamos recognized with prestigious Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship (LANL News Story) - Jacob Spendelow, a materials scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, has received an Electrochemical Society Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship for projects in green energy technology. Spendelow, whose research investigates electrochemical energy technologies including fuel cells and electrolyzers, is one of four fellows named this year.
  • Los Alamos-led federal Rapid Response Team to support Four Corners energy-based communities (LANL News Story) - On Aug. 25, the Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization announced the creation of a new Four Corners Rapid Response Team. Led by Los Alamos National Laboratory, the team brings together 11 federal agencies to partner with local officials and community leaders in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah as they navigate the region’s energy transitions and transformations. Los Alamos is also leading the regional I-WEST initiative focused on the intermountain West’s transition to a clean energy economy.
  • Workshop gives details, seeks input on water use in carbon-neutral energy (LANL News Story) - As planning for carbon-free energy production gains momentum across the Intermountain West, water has come to the forefront as a key enabling resource. To give stakeholders and the public an opportunity to learn about the issues and weigh in with their concerns about water availability, use and conservation during this transition, the Intermountain West Energy Sustainability & Transitions initiative conducted a free virtual workshop June 14.
  • Paving the path to a green future by capturing, storing CO2 (LANL News Story) - Moving from research on carbon capture and storage to deployment has gained momentum under the Intermountain West Energy & Transitions initiative. With sponsorship by the DOE, Los Alamos National Laboratory is leading this broadly inclusive initiative that brings together states, regional universities and colleges, research institutions, local communities and Native American nations to create a sustainable-energy economy.
  • A carbon-neutral future for the Mountain West (LANL Podcast) - With a place-based approach that emphasizes community-level input, I-WEST is looking at how best to incorporate  technologies for decarbonization, such as clean hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, bioenergy, wind and solar, into the region’s economies. 
  • Powering the Intermountain West (LANL 1663 magazine) - A new Department of Energy initiative that will bring carbon neutrality to the intermountain west region, which encompasses New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. The Intermountain West Energy Sustainability and Transitions initiative (-WEST) to play off highway nomenclature, is a large multi-institution project with two goals: to develop a roadmap to transition the region to a carbon-neutral and economically sustainable system, and to build coalitions of regional stakeholders who will deploy and implement the plan over the next 15 years.
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory and Pajarito Powder complete one of the first New Mexico-funded fuel cell projects (LANL News Story) - Los Alamos National Laboratory and Pajarito Powder have completed a project that will help improve hydrogen fuel cells. The project was part of New Mexico’s TRGR Readiness Initiative. The TRGR Initiative addresses the gap of knowledge transfer and technology advancement when a New Mexico business licenses a laboratory technology or engages in a research partnership. Companies, such as Pajarito Powder, gain the opportunity to work directly with scientists and engineers at Los Alamos to accelerate their technologies past the invention stage into products. For this project, the Laboratory evaluated fuel cell catalysts designed by Pajarito Powder to better understand the drawbacks of current catalyst technology.
  • Ground Delivery Goes Green (LANL 1663 magazine story) - Transportation is particularly difficult to make environmentally friendly. While charged batteries are suitable for lightweight, short-haul travel, they would be impractically heavy for larger vehicles or longer routes. Fuel cells are essentially batteries that are refueled rather than recharged, and the fuel is clean-burning hydrogen. Los Alamos has been on the forefront of fuel-cell development since 1977, and that investment—widely recognized for its potential to replace hydrocarbon-fuel engines entirely—is paying great dividends. Already, high-efficiency fuel-cell vehicles are driving on the nation’s roadways, mostly in California, where virtually all of America’s 50 or so hydrogen refilling stations reside.
  • New polymer fuel cells can operate at higher temperatures (LANL News Story) - A new high-temperature polymer fuel cell that operates at 80-160 degrees Celsius, with a higher-rated power density than state-of-the-art fuel cells, solves the longstanding problem of overheating, one of the most significant technical barriers to using medium-and heavy-duty fuel cells in transportation vehicles such as trucks and buses. Because current fuel cells operate at 60-80 C, they require large radiators and air intakes in order to stay cool enough to operate. To resolve this issue, Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists developed a new polymer fuel cell that operates at higher temperatures.
  • The future of trucking is hydrogen - A new Los Alamos project could soon bring clean-energy semi-trucks to a highway near you
  • Breakthrough material makes pathway to hydrogen use for fuel cells under hot, dry conditions - Innovative proton conductor developed to be effective at high temperatures
  • State and national laboratories execute agreement on development of zero-carbon hydrogen (LANL News Story) - The New Mexico Economic Development Department, Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, and Environment Department entered into a MOU with Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories to build a zero-carbon hydrogen economy not only in New Mexico but across the United States. The MOU leverages their respective areas of expertise to deliver timely, material and efficient transformation of energy systems to achieve economic prosperity, reach net zero emissions by 2050 economy wide, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in New Mexico at least 45% below 2005 levels by 2030, in accordance with Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s Executive Order 2019-003.
  • Hydrogen may power the future of commercial trucking
  • Hydrogen offering a clear path to clean vehicles in New Mexico
  • Fueling the future of hydrogen (LANL News Story) - Hydrogen is rapidly growing as an alternative fuel for everything from trucks, buses and planes, to forklifts and drones. It can even be used as a source of backup power for data centers. To meet this growing demand, the Laboratory is developing new programs and facilities to evaluate hydrogen production, storage, infrastructure and fuel cell technologies for use at home and across the nation.

Additional News

Building a hydrogen bridge to a clean-energy future (Albuquerque Journal)

A net-zero-carbon economy that preserves jobs and supports steady economic growth is possible if we take steps now to elevate hydrogen’s role in our energy portfolio. The most challenging sectors to transition quickly are power and transportation. The phrase “electrify everything” implies a future with 100% electric vehicles while making the grid carbon neutral. Hydrogen builds a bridge to get there.

LANL is driving toward a sustainable future (Albuquerque Journal)

Along with other government agencies and businesses across the United States, Los Alamos National Laboratory is working hard to shrink its carbon footprint. A 2021 executive order threw down a heavy gauntlet by requiring every federal agency to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Hidden Hydrogen (Science Magazine)

In the shade of a mango tree, Mamadou Ngulo Konaré recounted the legendary event of his childhood. In 1987, well diggers had come to his village of Bourakébougou, Mali, to drill for water, but had given up on one dry borehole at a depth of 108 meters. “Meanwhile, wind was coming out of the hole,” Konaré told Denis Brière, a petrophysicist and vice president at Chapman Petroleum Engineering, in 2012. When one driller peered into the hole while smoking a cigarette, the wind exploded in his face.

Renewable fuel producer: Hydrogen opens opportunities for propane (LP Gas Magazine)

A public-private partnership between Los Alamos National Laboratory and Oberon Fuels secured funding from the U.S. Department of Energy to scale steam reforming technology to produce renewable hydrogen from rDME.

Hydrogen Big Rigs: Fuel Cell Electric Trucks Emerging as a Viable Climate Solution (InTransition Magazine)

With the threats of climate change becoming a stark reality everywhere—including 6,000 temperature records set around the U.S. in July 2022—the efforts to build a clean energy economy must look to any and all options for replacing fossil fuels. There remains the tantalizing prospect of widespread use of hydrogen—nature’s most abundant element, found everywhere around us, including paired two-atoms-to-one with oxygen in water. Long-haul trucking remains a potential leading-edge application for hydrogen, one that could lay the ground for wider applications of hydrogen throughout a clean energy economy. 

Federal incentives accelerate New Mexico’s hydrogen economy (Albuquerque Journal)

New Mexico has abundant engineering and technical expertise to assist in the transition to a hydrogen economy  through its research universities and two national laboratories, which are now providing direct assistance to build a state and regional hydrogen hub. Lujan Grisham’s administration signed a memorandum of understanding last January with Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories to secure laboratory assistance.

NM to be part of ‘clean freight corridor’ (Albuquerque Journal)

Long-haul truckers could soon power up their 18-wheelers with New Mexico-made hydrogen delivered through a vast fueling network stretching from the Port of Los Angeles to West Texas.

New Mexico-based Libertad Power is partnering with Hyundai Motor Co. and nationwide fueling service Diesel Direct to build a new hydrogen-fueled “Southwest Clean Freight Corridor” to help decarbonize thousands of heavy-duty, long-haul trucks that crisscross the region every day. Los Alamos National Laboratory is also providing technical advice. The lab has pioneered fuel cell technology development for decades, starting in the 1970s.

Grid should be on the decarbonization radar (Albuquerque Journal)

Los Alamos has decades of experience researching the grid’s vulnerabilities and optimizing its structure and operation to maintain grid resiliency, making the Lab well-positioned to lead the I-WEST initiative in partnership with stakeholders across the region. It won’t be one single technology that gets us to carbon neutrality. It will be a range of solutions.

Coalition will power move to a carbon neutral New Mexico (op-ed, Albuquerque Journal)

Through I-WEST, Los Alamos remains committed to its role as a trusted advisor to decision-makers about science-based, sustainable energy solutions, targeting the best technologies to meet the region’s needs. This work is part of our mission, but, more importantly, applying our skills to drive these crucial changes is the best way we can partner with our community locally and regionally as we move together into a sustainable future.

State agencies, national labs team up in zero-carbon hydrogen effort (New Mexico Political Report)

Some New Mexicans, including environmental advocacy groups, have concerns about hydrogen and don’t feel like the state is a good fit for hydrogen production. The majority of those concerns are around hydrogen produced from natural gas, however groups do have concerns about zero-carbon hydrogen as well. Los Alamos is not interested in getting into debate with those individuals. Instead, Los Alamos’ role is to provide the best scientific and technical data to inform those discussions. While developing the infrastructure around hydrogen, people need to be cognizant of the cost and also the potential environmental impacts. The research that will be done as part of the MOU between Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and the State of New Mexico will answer some of the questions and address concerns that community members might have about hydrogen.

LANL looking into removing carbon dioxide from air (KRQE TV)

The team at Los Alamos National Lab is looking into the feasibility of extracting the greenhouse gas, then storing it underground to stop it from affecting the atmosphere. One idea is using existing saline reservoirs and replacing the saltwater with the CO2.

Bioplastics point the way to an environmentally sustainable, green future (Santa Fe New Mexican)

The entwined challenges of transitioning to renewable, non-fossil energy sources and developing environmentally friendly plastics highlight the breadth of the broader challenge of decarbonizing our economy for a sustainable future. That’s the mission of a new coalition led by Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Intermountain West Energy Sustainability & Transitions initiative. Sponsored by the Department of Energy, the broadly inclusive I-WEST initiative brings together states, regional universities and colleges, research institutions, local communities and Native American tribes and nations to create a sustainable-energy economy.

LANL scientists eye ways to capture, store atmospheric CO2 (KOB TV)

Story removed by KOB. 

Long awaited, hydrogen’s moment may be here (Automotive News)

After decades of pilot projects and sporadic deployments, hydrogen appears on the cusp of economic viability and widespread use. Spurred by the simultaneous global challenges of climate change and increased desires for energy independence, governments and multinational companies are spending billions to usher in a hydrogen era.

For startups like Pajarito Powder, New Mexico provides fertile proving ground (Automotive News)

In January the state signed a memorandum of understanding with Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories to focus on hydrogen production, storage and utilization that “build the coalitions needed for launching new economies,” according to the agreement. New Mexico expanded its hydrogen ambitions in February, when it joined Colorado, Wyoming and Utah to form the Western Inter-States Hydrogen Hub. The group has applied for funding from the U.S. Energy Department for a hydrogen hub of producers, infrastructure providers and end users. With Interstates 10, 25, 40, 70, 80 and 90 all touching at least one portion of that four-state region, those end users could be long-haul truckers. 

New Mexico Is Bucking to Become a Hydrogen Power Player (Autoweek)

It’s possible that hydrogen is on the move again, and this time the focus is not on passenger cars, but rather on transportation that doesn’t play well with batteries—long-distance trucking, container shipping, and even aircraft. It’s happening somewhat slowly, though there was $2 billion in hydrogen-based venture capital activity globally in 2021, and a much bigger number anticipated for 2022. New Mexico is hoping to become a dominant player, and has applied—along with Colorado, Utah and Wyoming—to become one of four hydrogen hubs and share in $8 billion in federal funding through the Investment and Jobs Act.

Hydrogen production technology closer to road-ready (Albuquerque Journal column)

Meeting climate-crisis-driven transportation challenges depends on developing new fuels and an infrastructure for producing, processing, delivering and storing those fuels. Hydrogen is a promising alternative fuel for vehicles, especially light trucks and heavy vehicles, given the constraints of battery-only vehicle power. The hydrogen fuel-cell technology to power those vehicles is rapidly advancing. A complementary challenge emerges: How do we get the hydrogen where it needs to be? Recent research is making big strides toward finding solutions.

Hydrogen offering a clear path to clean vehicles in NM (Albuquerque Journal column)

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, released recently, confirmed that human activity is warming the globe, primarily through emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Meanwhile, New Mexico regulators are considering adopting clean-car standards that require up to 10% of new cars sold in New Mexico produce zero carbon emissions in 2025. So it makes sense that hydrogen fuel cells for powering trucks and vehicles are gaining renewed attention, particularly when considering that transportation accounts for about 40% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.