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For this year's Fuel Cell Challenge, we have collected, vetted, and are publishing 9 real-world challenges companies, non-government organizations, startups are currently experiencing. The Challenges below have been evaluated by expert faculty at the University of South Carolina to guarantee that the problem can be solved by using or consulting with faculty and students at the University of South Carolina as well as through the use of existing equipment and facilities at the University.

To better help you filter through which Challenges work for you, we've grouped some of the Challenges onto some smaller pages based on the Challenge's focus on bringing an existing technology to market (business & marketing) or bringing an innovative technology up-to-speed to be ready for distribution into the marketplace (science & engineering). The order in which the Challenges are organized does not imply any weighting, difficulty, or significance.

You can view the full list of Challenges below.

You can request additional information on a Challenge by emailing us at with the Challenge name.


Challenge #1 - Market Analysis for Ammonia Borane

Identifying markets and customers for ammonia borane, an advanced hydrogen storage material.  Ammonia borane has a 20 wt% theoretical hydrogen storage capacity and is under development by a variety of national laboratories, universities, and companies as a hydrogen storage source for portable power and vehicle applications.  Ammonia borane can also be used as a starting material or reagent in the synthesis of pharmaceuticals or other chemicals.  This project would develop lists of potential customers for ammonia borane including national laboratories, universities, and start-up companies along with contacts at each institution.
For questions about this challenge, please contact Nab Aggarwal with Wey|Chem Susîaínable Materials LLC at nabhomani.aggarwal@wey| or (803) 438.4468.


Challenge #2 - Sodium Borohydride Canister Characterization

Developing simple methods to determine the state of sodium borohydride fuel canisters that are sent for recycling to a manufacturer of small fuel cell systems.  Sodium borohydride is the hydrogen storage material and is mixed with water to release the hydrogen.  To recycle the material, its state must be known to process it correctly.  This project would develop methods of detecting important material properties for the recycling process.
For questions about this challenge, please contact Ron Seftick with Trulite Inc at or (803) 691.3814.


Challenge #3 - Historic District Fuel Cell Integration Plan

Develop a demonstration plan that uses fuel cells and other eco-friendly energy sources in the Waverly District in Columbia to provide solutions to fuel consumption, pollution, improvement of infrastructure of energy, transportation and communication systems, and also using these same systems to create jobs and improve our production and protection of plants and trees.  The demonstration plan would be a model for other historical districts.
For questions about this challenge, please contact Catherine Fleming Bruce with Tnovsa at or (803) 464.4149.

Challenge #4 - Electrochemical Compressor Catalyst Development - Electrochemical Compressor Catalyst Development

Creation of hydrogen oxidation catalysts for electrochemical hydrogen compression systems that are low-cost and resistant to corrosion at the elevated electrochemical potentials needed to achieve 12,000 psig of hydrogen compression.  A specific approach of interest is the use of nanoscale metal crystals on conductive materials that are oxidation resistant.
For questions about this challenge, please contact Josh Preston with Sustainable Innovations at joshua.preston@sustainableinnovßom or (860) 652.9690.

Challenge #5 - Market Analysis for Natural Gas Pressure Boosters in the Fuel Cell Market

Develop a complete scientific, technical, business and marketing strategy to sell natural gas pressure boosters in the fuel cell industry.  Many fuel cell customers have used natural gas pressure boosters to increase the pressure of delivered natural gas to the pressures required for fuel cell operation, but manufacturers of the boosters need assistance in understanding their value proposition for the market as well as identification of customers at national laboratories, universities, and companies.
For questions about this challenge, please contact Ed Howard with Gas Technology Energy Concepts, LLC (G-TEC) at or (716) 831.9695.


Challenge #6 - Development of a Hydrogen Race Car and Racing Business Template

Develop an innovative and affordable racecar design template.  This will include development of the race car design and a business template that provides entrepreneurs and Tier One suppliers the potential to participate, attracts New Economy sponsors, and gives a safe, affordable hydrogen racer whose design components can transfer easily to the automotive show room.
For questions about this challenge, please contact Bill Vartorella with Craig and Vartorella,Inc. at or (803) 432.4353.


Challenge #7 - Passive Fuel Cell System Prototyping

Construct and test prototype fuel cell systems based on existing patents for fuel cell systems that are low pressure, air-cooled, and require no external humidification.  The project will also identify markets for the fuel cell systems and customers in early fuel cell markets including telecommunications, fork lifts, and back-up power.  Initial customers and strategic partners will also be identified.
For questions about this challenge, please contact Maria Simpson with FDI Energy at or (202) 297.3338.


Challenge #8 - PBI Development for H2 Compression and Separation

Develop novel PBI polymers capable of increasing hydrogen compression pressures or enhancing hydrogen separation from a mixture and identify novel materials and MEA manufacturing methods that can decrease the initial capital and long-term operating cost of hydrogen pump systems.
For questions about this challenge, please contact Glenn Eisman with H2 Pump, LLC at


Challenge #9 - Power Management for Renewable Regenerative Fuel Cell Systems

Creation of a system for power management that integrates renewable energy from wind and solar energy together with energy storage using a regenerative fuel cell system.  The energy management system will coordinate power inputs from the renewable energy and the grid with power distribution to the loads.  The system will manage the power purchases and power sales to take advantage of variations in pricing during peak power usage that occurs in many countries.
For questions about this challenge, please contact Sam Perdriau with HNRGE at or +61 4 1736 9690. Please note when calling this company is based out of Australia.