US House moves hydrogen, energy R&D bills

10 May 2007 23:47  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS news)--A congressional panel approved legislation on Thursday designed to stimulate government and private sector innovation in hydrogen and broader energy development.


A subcommittee of the House Committee on Science and Technology approved bill S-632 to establish the “H-Prize” at the US Department of Energy to award cash payments every other year to researchers who advance commercial use of hydrogen energy technologies.


The prize would give recognition and a minimum of $1m (€740,000) to winners in each of three categories:  advancing technology for hydrogen production and storage; developing ground-breaking hydrogen-powered vehicles; or making breakthroughs in environmentally friendly hydrogen distribution.


The second bill, S-364, would establish a new office in the Department of Energy called the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) that would award federal grants or contracts to universities, corporations or groups of companies that achieve goals set by the department for advancing energy development.


ARPA-E is patterned on the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) established by the US Defense Department in 1958 to stimulate and co-ordinate academic, commercial and military research and development (R&D) in national security and space exploration, in addition to many other issues. 


Among results of that 1960s-era effort was the US space programme and development of DARPA-net, a multi-institutional and country-wide data and information sharing network, which was the precursor of the Internet.


The bill’s backers hope that ARPA-E will bring to the US energy crisis the kind of innovation and research concentration that the earlier DARPA brought to the US space programme and other scientific advances.


Both measures are expected to pass the full Science and Technology Committee and the full House with broad bipartisan support.


($1.00 = €0.74)

By: Joe Kamalick
+1 713 525 2653

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