May 2006

House passes $10M hydrogen prize
(full article)

House Overwhelmingly Passes Inglis H-Prize Bill
(full article)

Fuel-Cell Car Demonstration Gives Orangeburg, South Carolina Students Glimpse of Future Hydrogen Economy
(full article)

May 11, 2006
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House passes $10M hydrogen prize

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Scientists, inventors and entrepreneurs will be able to vie for a grand prize of $10 million, and smaller prizes reaching millions of dollars, under House-passed legislation to encourage research into hydrogen as an alternative fuel.

Legislation creating the "H-Prize," modeled after the privately funded Ansari X Prize that resulted last year in the first privately developed manned rocket to reach space twice, passed the House Wednesday on a 416-6 vote. A companion bill is to be introduced in the Senate this week.

"This is an opportunity for a triple play," said bill sponsor Rep. Bob Inglis, R-South Carolina, citing benefits to national security from reduced dependence on foreign oil, cleaner air from burning pollution-free hydrogen and new jobs. "If we can reinvent the car, imagine the jobs we can create."

"Perhaps the greatest role that the H-Prize may serve is in spurring the imagination of our most valuable resource, our youth," said co-sponsor Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Illinois.

The measure would award four prizes of up to $1 million every other year for technological advances in hydrogen production, storage, distribution and utilization. One prize of up to $4 million would be awarded every second year for the creation of a working hydrogen vehicle prototype.

The grand prize, to be awarded within the next 10 years, would go for breakthrough technology.

"Prizes can draw out new ideas from scientists and engineers who may not be willing or able to participate in traditional government research and development programs, while encouraging them, rather than the taxpayer, to assume the risk," said Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert, R-New York.

Inglis said the Department of Energy would put together a private foundation to set up guidelines and requirements for the prizes. Anyone can participate, as long as the research is performed in the United States and the person, if employed by the government or a national lab, does the research on his own time.

He said the prize would not take away funds from any federal hydrogen programs, including the $1.7 billion hydrogen research program that President Bush first detailed in 2003.

The Energy Department announced earlier this year that it would provide $119 million in funding for research into hydrogen fuel cells, including $100 million over the next four years to projects to improve components of fuel cell systems.

Several automakers have made advances in hydrogen fuel cell technology or dual gas-hydrogen engines, but such vehicles are still very expensive and there's no viable infrastructure of fueling stations.

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  May 10, 2006
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House overwhelmingly passes Inglis H-Prize Bill

WASHINGTON, May 10, 2006 – By an overwhelming vote of 416 to 6, the House of Representatives today passed H.R. 5143, the H-Prize Act of 2006. The legislation, introduced by Research Subcommittee Chairman Bob Inglis (R-SC), would establish a national prize competition to encourage the development of breakthrough technologies that would enable a hydrogen economy.

The Science Committee reported the bill out of Committee by voice vote last week.

Inglis said, “The bill’s rapid movement through the House shows that momentum is gathering toward a national commitment to the hydrogen economy. This is no science project. A hydrogen future is closer than we think.”

“Hydrogen may be the Holy Grail of transportation fuels,” said Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY). “It is clean, it is abundant, and it can be produced here at home. If we are able to overcome the technical barriers that currently block its wide-spread, practical use, the potential payoff will be huge: cleaner air, less global warming, and most importantly, an economy that is not held hostage by foreign regimes or volatile oil markets. There’s no guarantee we’ll get there, but by summoning our nation’s best and brightest to the challenge, the H-Prize will greatly increase our chances of success.”

House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) hailed today’s passage of the H-Prize, saying, “The H-Prize provides yet another example of Republicans taking action to help address high energy costs by looking at developing the next generation of American energy sources.  This bill will help spur advances in hydrogen technology and provide another reliable source of American energy for families and consumers.”

The H-Prize, modeled after the successful Ansari X Prize – which spurred the first privately funded suborbital human spaceflight last year – would help overcome technical challenges related to hydrogen by offering prizes in three categories:

  • Technological Advancements – Four prizes of up to $1 million awarded biennially in the categories of hydrogen Production, Storage, Distribution and Utilization;
  • Prototypes – One prize of up to $4 million awarded biennially that forces working hydrogen vehicle prototypes to meet ambitious performance goals; and
  • Transformational Technologies – One grand prize consisting of a $10 million cash award, funded in whole or in part by federal contribution. Additional matching funds could be awarded for development of wells-to-wheels breakthrough technologies.

H.R. 5143 would authorize appropriations during fiscal years 2007 through 2016 totaling:

  • $20 million for the Technical Advancement prizes;
  • $20 million for the Prototypes prizes (awards in these two categories alternate each year);
  • $10 million for a single Transformational Technologies grand prize; and
  • $2 million annually for administrative and advertising costs.

The legislation would direct the Secretary of Energy to contract with a private foundation or other non-profit entity to establish criteria for the prizes and administer the prize contest.

In passing the bill, the House amended the version of the bill that had passed in Committee by:

  • Allowing the Transformational Technologies grand prize to be offered only once in the 10-year period covered by the bill, reducing the authorization levels in the bill by $80 million;
  • Clarifying that the Technological Advancements prizes do not have to be awarded if there are no significant advances in the two-year period being covered by a prize competition; and
  • Requiring the entity that administers the prizes to protect any intellectual property, trade secrets or confidential business information provided by prize contestants.

Committee on Science
Bart Gordon, Tennessee, Ranking Director

Press Contacts:
Joe Pouliot
(202) 225-4275

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  May 4, 2006 
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Fuel-Cell Car Demonstration Gives Orangeburg, South Carolina Students Glimpse of Future Hydrogen Economy

ORANGEBURG, SC – A top U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) official gave high school students a glimpse into the future today by demonstrating hydrogen fuel technologies designed to reduce pollution and end America’s dependence on foreign oil.

“Instead of burning gasoline, the cars of tomorrow will operate on hydrogen, the most abundant element in the universe,” William D. Magwood, IV, director of DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy, Science and Technology, told   students at Wilkinson High School in Orangeburg, S.C.

Mr. Magwood leads the department’s nuclear energy program and is responsible for the government’s research aimed at developing clean and efficient nuclear energy technologies to produce hydrogen for future automobiles and other uses.  Magwood explained that the hydrogen fuel cell process can produce electricity to operate cars and other vehicles and devices with no pollution.

“The only byproduct is pure water,” he said, explaining that fuel-cell technology could someday replace the gasoline-fueled internal combustion engines that power the cars and trucks of today.  “No gasoline means no imported oil and no problems with pollution or greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles.”

“Investing in our students today will help ensure the transformation of our energy future from one dependent on foreign petroleum to one based on hydrogen,” Magwood said.

”It’s important that we begin to prepare and inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers who will lead the transition to a hydrogen-based economy and build the machines and infrastructure that will make it a reality.”

President Bush has proposed $1.7 billion over five years in research funding for the FreedomCAR and the Hydrogen Fuel Initiative, to enable America to lead the world in developing clean, hydrogen-powered automobiles that would free the U.S. from dependence on foreign petroleum.  This education effort -- which includes similar visits by Energy Department officials to schools around the nation – supports President Bush’s initiative.  For more information on the FreedomCAR partnership and the Hydrogen Fuel Initiative please visit:

Media contact:  Hope Williams, 202/586-5806

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