The Hydrogen Grand Challenge is a series of prize competitions organized by MI Hydrogen and sponsored by Fortescue to accelerate the adoption of hydrogen as a clean and sustainable energy carrier, particularly in areas such as transportation and industrial applications, in order to facilitate an equitable, affordable, clean, and secure energy transition.

The first competition, Michigan Hydrogen Horizon, asked University of Michigan students to develop a business case for a Michigan-centered, regional deployment of hydrogen.

Why Hydrogen?

Hydrogen stands as a pivotal energy carrier, positioned to significantly curtail carbon emissions across domains such as heavy-duty transportation, aviation, heating, and distributed power, as well as pivotal industrial sectors like steelmaking, glassmaking, and semiconductor manufacturing.

The possibility of hydrogen acting as a clean and cost-effective energy transporter has gained substantial traction at the national level. This enthusiasm has been underscored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s announcement of $7 billion in funding to launch seven Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs (H2Hubs), including the Midwest Alliance for Clean Hydrogen (MachH2) which is supported by MI Hydrogen. These hubs are strategically devised to expedite the widespread adoption of hydrogen throughout the United States.

Conceptual illustration of an H2@Scale (Hydrogen at Scale) energy system
DOE hydrogen ecosystem diagram (from U.S. DOE, Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, H2@Scale.)

Why A Prize?

When Charles Lindbergh won the Orteig Prize in 1927 and became the first aviator to make a trans–Atlantic crossing, it defied what was thought possible for human transportation and transformed the aviation industry. Prize competitions accelerate progress towards ambitious goals by providing an incentive for innovators and investors to solve complex problems. Prizes particularly lend themselves to situations where there is no clear route to a solution, or there may be many different pathways for innovation. They can produce breakthroughs even when there is no developed market for solutions and prompt the development of whole new industries.