As Nikola Motor Company marches toward a zero-emission future with durable hydrogen technology for commercial trucking, the U.S. Department of Energy has awarded the Phoenix company a $1.7 million grant to advance its research into fuel cell membrane electrode assembly (MEA).

“This award provides an opportunity for the highly talented Nikola team to leverage expertise in academia and exceptional 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,” said Jesse Schneider, executive vice president, Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Technologies, Nikola.

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 LitsterNortheastern 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 two million dollar 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.