Nikola lands $1.7M grant to advance fuel cell research

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Updated Aug 13, 2019

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded Phoenix-based Nikola Motor Company a $1.7 million grant to advance its research into fuel cell membrane electrode assembly (MEA).

Nikola’s Executive Vice President of Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Technologies Jesse Schneider said the award provides an opportunity for the Nikola team to leverage expertise in academia and resources within the DOE Fuel Cell Consortium for Performance and Durability “to accelerate a breakthrough that will benefit the entire hydrogen and fuel cell industry and community.”

The joint grant was funded by the US Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Transportation Office under the recently announced FY19 Commercial Trucks and Off-Road Applications FOA.

Nikola is pursuing a new approach and unique MEA architecture to satisfy the high-power output and durability requirements of heavy-duty applications with its academic partners: Carnegie Mellon University Prof. Shawn Litster, Northeastern University Prof. Sanjeev Mukerjee and Georgia Institute of Technology Prof. Younan Xia.

In this project, Nikola will bring together advanced concepts in catalysts, ionomers, proton exchange membranes, and gas diffusion layers within a robust MEA by using appropriate, scalable fabrication methods.

Nikola’s hydrogen station partner NEL Hydrogen of Oslo, Norway was also awarded a $2 million award from the DOE. Nikola executives are serving as the technical lead on that project as well.

There are currently more than 14,000 Nikola Class 8 trucks on order.  The Nikola trucks feature up to 1,000 horsepower and 2,000 ft-lbs of torque.  Nikola recently announced a battery-electric vehicle option for the urban, short haul trucking market.  Nikola’s trucks will be manufactured in Coolidge, Ariz.  Testing will begin on Arizona roads this year with full production expected in late 2022.