American-Made Challenges


H-Prize: Hydrogen Shot Incubator

Accelerating the development of unique and novel technologies that show potential to produce affordable clean hydrogen.

This challenge is closed

Judging Closed
$2.6 million Prize Pool

This challenge is closed



The H-Prize: Hydrogen Shot Incubator

This $2.6-million prize was launched by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office to identify, develop, and test disruptive technologies to reduce the cost of clean hydrogen production. This prize supports the goal of DOE’s Hydrogen Program and the Hydrogen Energy Earthshot to enable the production of clean hydrogen for $1 per 1 kilogram in 1 decade ("1 1 1").

Propose!  and Prove!  Innovative Concepts

The Hydrogen Shot Incubator supports teams as they develop transformative concepts into early-stage prototypes ready for lab-scale demonstration, through two phases: Propose! and  Prove! This approach will drive the accelerated development of the most promising ideas and provide a steppingstone for American entrepreneurs to secure additional investment.

Propose!  PhasePropose! Phase participants will access resources and environments to foster new solution concepts and develop them into plans for early-stage prototypes in rapid learning cycles. Submission packages must highlight a concept for clean hydrogen production, focusing on lowering the hydrogen production cost. DOE will select up to ten winners to advance in the competition. 

Prove!  Phase: Winners of the Propose! phase will develop their concepts and designs with the help of national laboratory experts. Submissions for the Prove! phase must include a plan with preliminary designs for a laboratory-scale demonstration along with technoeconomic and emissions analyses to validate the proposed idea. DOE will select up to five winners for additional cash and voucher support.

The Hydrogen Shot Incubator will culminate in a Pitch Day event, where Prove! phase winners will present their proof-of-concept along with experimental and analytical findings to potential investors and commercial partners.


View Hydrogen Shot Incubator Rules for more information.


Please "follow "the prize to receive more in detail and updated information about the Hydrogen Shot Incubator Prize. Expect updates early June 2022, including prize rules and submission form. When you "follow" the prize, updates will be sent to the email you registered with on HeroX. 


If you have any questions, you may use the contact feature on the HeroX platform, or email us at





Challenge Updates

November H2IQ Hour: Demonstrations of H2A-Lite and H2FAST Models

Oct. 25, 2022, 10:23 a.m. PDT by NREL Prize Administrator

Join our November H2IQ Hour webinar on November 3, 2022, at 12 p.m. EDT for an overview and demonstration of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL)Hydrogen Analysis Lite Production (H2A-Lite) model and Hydrogen Financial Analysis Scenario Tool (H2FAST). The demonstration will be conducted by Michael (Misho) Penev, senior analyst for infrastructure and energy storage analysis at NREL, currently on detail to DOE.

H2A-Lite is a user-friendly model that provides a high-level techno-economic view of different hydrogen production technologies, including breakdowns of hydrogen cost as well as expected emissions of greenhouse gases and criteria pollutants. H2FAST provides convenient, in-depth financial analysis of hydrogen systems, including annual projections of income statements, cash flow statements, and balance sheets. Both H2A-Lite and H2FAST are based on prior NREL models that have been used by thousands of stakeholders around the world.

The H2IQ Hour will include 45 minutes of presentation and demonstration followed by 15 minutes of Q&A. A recording of the H2IQ Hour will be available on the website after the event. Register today.

Announcing the H-Prize: Hydrogen Shot Incubator Propose! Phase Winners!

Oct. 11, 2022, 9:17 a.m. PDT by Prize Administrator

Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the winners of the first phase of the H-Prize: Hydrogen Shot Incubator, a $2.6 million competition to foster innovative concepts for producing clean hydrogen. With these awards, nine winning teams will each receive $10,000 in cash and $50,000 in vouchers for teams to spend at national laboratories to further develop their concepts. 

The winners of the first phase, and their proposed concepts, are:

  • BoMax Hydrogen (Sanford, FL)—a system that integrates light-activated nanoparticles with an enzyme to produce clean hydrogen from sunlight
  • Gold Hydrogen Team (Houston, TX)—a process using dark fermentation to biologically produce hydrogen in spent oil wells 
  • Electro-Active Hydrogen (Knoxville, TN)—a system that integrates solar energy with algal hydrothermal liquefaction and microbial electrolysis to generate clean hydrogen, leveraging the chemical energy from organic matter
  • Evolve Hydrogen Inc. (East Northport, NY)—a novel electrolyzer system design that can use seawater as a feedstock without the need for precious metal materials 
  • H3 (Palo Alto, CA)—a system that integrates high-temperature solid oxide electrolyzers with thermal energy storage to enable continuous hydrogen production even when using intermittent renewable resources
  • Biomass Super Gasifier (Indianapolis, IN)—an indirectly-heated pyrolytic gasification process to convert carbon-based feedstocks into syngas from which hydrogen can be extracted—with the remaining syngas used in a solid oxide fuel cell to generate power to run the system
  • NX Fuels Inc. (Ann Arbor, MI)—a technology that harnesses sunlight to produce hydrogen from seawater using a photoelectrochemical process
  • PAX H2(O) (Richmond, CA)—a technology that could reduce the capital and operating expenses of an electrolysis system by producing clean water using waste heat from the electrolyzer
  • The Hope Group (Lubbock, TX)—in-situ microwave-assisted catalytic heating to crack methane­ and generate hydrogen directly from depleted natural gas reservoirs

The H-Prize: Hydrogen Shot Incubator is administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and is jointly funded by the DOE Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office and the Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management. This prize is one of the American-Made Prizes, a continually growing portfolio of prize programs, from 16 DOE offices, with more than $110 million in committed prizes supporting a wide range of clean energy technology innovations.


Oct. 6, 2022, 2:58 p.m. PDT by NREL Prize Administrator

The Phase 1 winners of the Hydrogen Shot Incubator Prize will be announced the week of October 10 as part of the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Week activities! Please keep an eye out on the HeroX updates tab as well as on the EERE website to catch the announcement. Winners will also receive an email from

To help teams prepare for the next phase of the prize, we have provided a Voucher Digest and Capabilities Menu on the HeroX Resources tab. Please feel free to review this information to learn more about the voucher process.


Thank you!

September H2IQ Hour – Part II: HydroGEN Advanced Water Splitting Materials Capabilities Overview

Sept. 15, 2022, 11:01 a.m. PDT by NREL Prize Administrator

Join the September H2IQ Hour – Part II on September 16 at 1 p.m. ET for an overview of the HydroGEN Advanced Water Splitting Materials consortium and its direct solar hydrogen production capabilities. HydroGEN is a consortium of five U.S. Department of Energy national laboratories with world-class capabilities and expertise in photoelectrochemical, solar thermochemical, low-temperature electrolytic, and high-temperature electrolytic water splitting pathways. In this webinar, HydroGEN Director Huyen Dinh, of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, will present an overview of the consortium and highlight capabilities that can support collaborative R&D projects on solar fuels, including photoelectrochemical and solar thermochemical water splitting pathways.

The webinar will include a 45-minute live presentation followed by 15 minutes of Q&A. A recording will be available on the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office website after the event.

Reminder: Hydrogen Shot Incubator Submission Deadline is Tomorrow

Aug. 16, 2022, 3:06 p.m. PDT by NREL Prize Administrator

As a reminder, the Propose! Phase deadline for the Hydrogen Shot Incubator Prize is tomorrow, August 17 no later than 5:00 p.m. ET! We strongly encourage you to upload your submissions well ahead of the deadline to avoid any last-minute technical difficulties. If you have any questions, please email us at before 5:00 p.m. ET. 

Good luck!


Frequently Asked Questions

Please "follow" the challenges. Rules and the submission form will be posted in May 2022. Once the rules and submission form are posted, teams can submit an entry for the prize. 

Yes, but it’s quick and easy. Just click the “Solve this Challenge” button on this page and follow the instructions to complete your registration. All you need to provide is your name and email address.

If you have a question not answered in the FAQ, we recommend that you post it in the Forum where someone will respond to you. This way, others who may have the same question will be able to see it.

No, if you are a contest winner you are receiving the prize for meeting or exceeding the contest goals. 

Innovation is about making ideas happen. The American-Made Network will accelerate and sustain innovation through a diverse and powerful network that includes national laboratories, energy incubators, facilities, and other valuable industry partners from across the U.S. who will engage, connect, mentor, and boost the efforts of AMC competitors.

See who is in the network.

Connectors are the core component of the American-Made Network and are organizations that seek to support the efforts of competitors in AMC Challenges. Use this link to explore the Network to find potential partners and develop relationships.

If you encounter an issue when attempting to submit an entry to the challenge, you may need to contact HeroX or the Prize Administrator.

You may try to connect with HeroX using the online form which appears in the bottom right corner of your browser window, it says Leave a Message.

You may also send a message to the Prize Administrator inbox at  

Please allow at least 1 business day for a response.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is the Prize Administrator for the American-Made Challenges. In this capacity NREL works closely with the U.S. Department of Energy to administer the challenges, maintain the website platform, assist in building the network, and pay prize money to the winning teams.

All of your files are uploaded as part of the submission form, access this by clicking the Begin Entry button.  The submission form contains an upload option for each of the required file entries.  Only PDF files will be accepted for upload.

Competitors competing in American Made Challenges retain their own intellectual property. DOE has no intention of gaining rights to any underlying inventions discussed in your submission materials or that you may develop in furtherance of competing in this prize.


Q: If we have already submitted the same technology for a grant under the infrastructure BIL, does that disqualify for this prize?

A: If funds have been previously awarded for your technology through the DOE, yes, that technology would not be eligible for this prize. If you only applied for funding, you are welcome to apply to as many funding sources as appropriate.  ____________________________________________________________

Q: Is it possible to submit multiple submissions that focus on disparate concepts/technologies but could/would be combined in a final system?

A:  Yes. Teams can submit up to three submissions to phase 1 of this prize.


Q: Would a US corp be able to jointly submit a technology with a Canadian SME? 

A: We encourage you to review the rules to be sure you are eligible for this prize. If you are still unsure, you can connect with us directly at


Q: Is there a fee to join a team or I guess what are the requirements to join a team as an organization?

A: There is no fee to join a team. Teams must meet all eligibility requirements to be able to apply for this prize. Please review the rules for all eligibility requirements.


Q: I don't have a team can I still submit my idea?

A: Yes. Please also review the eligibility requirements in the rules.







Q: How can I check if my proposed solution has already been supported by the DOE Hydrogen Program?





Q: Would there be any limitations on applying to other DOE programs, grants or similar?


A: We hope with this prize that we reach people who have not previously received funding through DOE. Following this prize applicants would be welcome to apply for future relevant prizes and funding opportunities through DOE. If you are currently receiving funding from DOE for the same technology you apply to this prize with, an assessment must be made to determine if the additional prize funding is duplicative. Also, this prize is looking to fund novel technology concepts, and having received prior funding from DOE would significantly reduce its novelty. 







Q: Can the idea be a configuration of current hydrogen equipment to make a lower production cost.­ ­


A: This prize is focused on funding novel hydrogen production technologies that are distinct from technologies already funded through DOE’s Hydrogen Program. The application should discuss development of the entire hydrogen production process. ­


Q: Could you please define "off-roadmap" technologies in a little more detail?


A: “Off-roadmap” technologies refers to technologies that are not already part of the Hydrogen Programs technology portfolio. For information on the types of technologies that the Hydrogen Program has recently funded please reference the 2020 Hydrogen Program Plan ( and the 2022 Annual Merit Review proceedings (



Q: Is this limited to H2 production innovation, or can it be for h2 storage concepts as well?


A: Hydrogen storage concepts will not be considered.


Q: Does the $1/kg H2 goal include delivery costs or just production?


A: Just production costs.



Q: Can a proposal focus on just one element of hydrogen production such as novel forms of CCS used in steam methane reforming?


A: All proposals should consider the entire hydrogen production process. Technologies proposed for producing hydrogen must not include steam methane reforming, auto thermal reforming, coal gasification, or partial oxidation.




Q: Is focus on hydrogen producing technologies using electrolysis or can enabler technologies also be a fit (diagnostics, controls)?


A: Electrolysis is not an "off roadmap" technology, we are funding a lot of work on electrolysis, so electrolysis is not one of the technologies that would likely score well. As for as diagnostics and controls, the whole production concept needs to be considered.


Q: Does this award cover embrittlement and storage?


A: No, storage topics will not be considered.




Q: Our concept involves a novel core technology that enables an integrated set of innovations in hydrogen production, storage and delivery. However, the greatest technical novelty is in storage and delivery, more so than production, so I'm realizing from prior Q&A that we may not be the best fit for this competition. Do you anticipate running future incubator challenges with a broader scope on the entirety of hydrogen supply chain?


A: Future prize and funding opportunities are subject to future appropriations and are unknown at this time.


Q: For electrolysis you need at least 38 kWH per kg, so to make the $1 goal so power cost is critical...Does the $1 include CAPEX?


A: Yes, the costs include the CAPEX.


Q: Similar to std power cost, does DOE have a cost used for 'purified' water (feedstock)?


A: Your submission should justify the costs you assume for feed stocks.



Q: How far advanced do you need to be in tech validation to apply? 


A: There is no set TRL level your proposal must reach in order to be considered. However, the technical concept must be well established enough to provide adequate responses to the application questions. The reviewers and DOE need sufficient information to be able to assess the novelty and potential of your proposed technology. 



Q: What are the boundaries of the h2 production facilities? i.e. production only or complete systems including compression, etc.?                         


A: The boundary conditions should include inputs of all feed stocks and energy, and outputs of hydrogen and all other byproducts, including heat. We currently are targeting an output of dry H2 at 30 bar, but output conditions should be stated in the application.



Q: Is the $1/gk target retail or wholesale or product cost?


A: $1/kg is the cost at the point of production, not the sale price.



Q: Is novelty or 1 1 1 weighted more in judging?


A: To determine what your submission will be scored on please refer to the official rules. Both of these concepts are considered in scoring your submission. 



Q:  Hi Eric, how may I contact you via email? I noticed that you'd hosted a session before on characterization of electrolysers, and would love to speak with you about the topic for the upcoming DoE FOA on Electrolysis?


A: You can reach the appropriate contact for FOAs inquiries here: 



Q: Will Thermochemical Water Splitting qualify for this prize?


A: Please refer to the official rules. Note that steam methane reforming, autothermal reforming, coal gasification, or partial oxidation are specifically listed as technologies not of interest for this prize. This prize is intended to fund novel hydrogen production technologies that have the potential to reduce the cost of clean hydrogen production. In determining the potential novelty of your technical concept please review the technologies funded through the Hydrogen Program. For information on the types of technologies that the Hydrogen Program has recently funded please reference the 2020 Hydrogen Program Plan ( and the 2022 Annual Merit Review proceedings (



Q: What is the cost of power and capacity factor that will be expected in 2030?


A: This is dependent on the type of energy input you plan to use for your system. Your application should indicate and justify your choices. 



Q: I am a consultant working on hydrogen fueled Electric VTOL (heavy lift) as a storage and delivery system using nukes and windmills/solar reactors as source of $1/k hydrogen... can I contact you directly about this issue... I most likely will not participate in contest except as a consultant.


A: We will not be seeking external consultants/reviewers for this prize program.



Q: Are the 1 1 1 the only technical targets for proposals?


A: The goal for this prize is to fund novel technologies (novel in comparison to the current Hydrogen Program) that produce clean hydrogen and have the potential to meet the “1, 1, 1” goal. There are no other technical requirements. Technologies proposed for producing hydrogen must be theoretically plausible and not include steam methane reforming, autothermal reforming, coal gasification, or partial oxidation.



Q: Does "off road mapping" innovations include technologies currently in a DOE contract/award that ends in 2023?


A: No, this indicates that the innovation has been funded by the DOE and would not be novel as compared to the current Hydrogen Program. 



Q: Is a formal TEA/LCA (e.g., DOE GREET) required as part of the submission elements?


A: A formal TEA/LCA is not required as part of this application, but information from a model like GREET or H2A would be ideal. Your submission should include as much information as possible to justify the cost and life cycle claims you make.

circumstances, but teams will be able to review the language in that contract before committing to the agreement.








Q: Can anyone speak to the ownership of an innovation if you use the vouchers?


A:  If teams elect to use vouchers at a national lab, they will be required to enter into a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) contract. Any IP developed jointly under the voucher work may have special circumstances, but teams will be able to review the language in that contract before committing to the agreement.



Q: How are lab vouchers costed? (Perceived value of a $50K ‘voucher’)


A:  You will work directly with labs that will be able to give you an estimate on how much the proposed work costs.




Q: Are cash prizes/vouchers tax-free?


A: The cash prizes are taxed. We suggest that you connect with a tax expert about the cash prize. Voucher funds will be transferred directly to the national lab, and therefore you will not receive any cash for the voucher component.



Q: Do awardees get to select the most preferred, appropriate NL (national laboratories) with which to collaborate?


A: Teams will be provided a list of national laboratories and their capabilities that are participating in the voucher process for this prize. From here teams will be able to connect with national laboratories to negotiate a statement of work to use their voucher at that NL.



Q: Which labs are equipped to work with hydrogen?


A: We will be providing a list of national laboratories at the end of phase 1 that will have the capabilities to work with hydrogen. 



Q: Do team members get access to labs when they get the vouchers?


A:  Teams will work with a point of contact from each lab and negotiate what access they will have to each lab.



Q: Is the lab voucher required to be used?


A: No, teams are not required to use vouchers.







Q: I­s equity rating equal to the technical aspects? ­


A:  Each question listed in the review criteria receives a score from 1 to 6. Each question has equal weight. 




Q: Will there be DEI or JUstice40 focused expert reviewers as part of the judging panel?


A: DOE is working in collaboration with the Prize Administrator to recruit expert reviewers for this prize, including DEI-focused reviewers.




Q: Does DOE have a readily accepted NDA, for use by submitters, for reviewers to sign? We would like to review, if available. And how does a submitter make clear that an NDA is being requested?


A: All Expert Reviewers have to sign a non-disclosure agreement when they log into HeroX before reviewing and scoring submissions. We also run a formal training with Expert Reviewers to review potential and real conflicts of interest and ask when they begin to review submissions, if there is a conflict of interest with an application, that they let the Prize Administrator know immediately so that they can be taken off that submission.



Q: ­Please detail the background of the expert reviewers, i.e., engineering, business, financial, regulatory, etc.   How many reviewers will be involved in proposal evaluations?­


A:  HFTO, in collaboration with the Prize Administrator for this prize, are currently working on recruiting expert reviewers for this prize. Each submission will be scored by a panel of reviewers.








Q: ­Can we get a copy of the slides?­

A: ­Yes - Slides will be made available after the webinar along with the recording on the DOE HFTO webinar archive as well as some other locations­‑



Q: Is there a limit to the number of 1-page support letters?


A: No. However, we encourage you to ensure that all support letters are relevant to your submission.




Q: Can a team submit more than one technology?


A: Yes. Teams can submit up to three submissions for phase 1 of this prize.



Q: if team members are from 2 companies in 2 places what location and zip code do you use on cover page?


A:  Please use the location and zip code of the team captain 




Q: Are certain geographic locations prioritized or deprioritized? 


A: No. However, geographic diversity may be considered in determining winners.




Q: What if your team has an innovative idea but are unable in the time period to gather the DEI aspects?


A:  We ask that you do the best you can to respond to all four questions of the technical narrative with your submission.




Q: What if you cannot satisfy very well in the time available to satisfy the DEI requirements.


A: We ask that you do the best you can to respond to all four questions of the technical narrative with your submission. 




Q: Can you repeat the information about the prizes at different stages?

A: All information about the phases of the prize can be found in the rules document under the resources tab. 




Q: Will a cell phone video be equally judged/score compared to a full video production?


A:  Reviewers are scoring the content of the video, rather than production quality. Many competitors do submit cell phone videos. As long as there are no barriers to understanding the video content (i.e., poor sound), cell phone videos are acceptable.



Q: Is DOE prepared to help support selected projects with other Federal agencies that may be involved bringing a project to fulfillment?


A: This prize is intended to support novel concepts and processes related to clean hydrogen production with an emphasis on those that have the potential to reduce the cost of clean hydrogen production to achieve the DOE Hydrogen Shot goal of $1/kg H2 by 2031. Part of the review criteria will include the novelty of the concept or process and whether or not it is duplicative or similar to other supported development efforts.



Q: Will we get an email when this is posted?


A: If you are following the prize on HeroX, you will receive an email once the webinar is posted.



Q: Generally, how many applicants are expected to apply?


A: We do not have an estimate of how many applicants will apply for this prize.


Q: Assuming a Phase I grant is given, what additional information or evaluations will be required to be considered for a Phase II award? 


A: Please review the rules to learn what needs to be submitted for phase II of this prize.




Q: Will the winner be able to retain IP of the technology, or will the DOE own it?


A: Winners own the IP to the technology they developed.