Science Research Subcommittee Chairman Bob Inglis (R-SC) introduced legislation called the H-Prize Act of 2006 (H.R. 5143) Thursday in the U.S. House of Representatives. The creation of a monetary “H-Prize” is designed to attract the best and brightest minds to attack technological and commercial market obstacles in moving to a hydrogen economy.

“America is treading water in a sea of rising demand for oil that includes China and India,” Inglis said. “The market is now in a position to reward those who will innovate our way to a hydrogen economy. Those innovators will create jobs, clean the air, and improve our national security.”

Modeled after the successful Ansari X-Prize awarded for entrepreneurial space flight, the three category H-Prize with a $100 million grand prize would be awarded for commercial transformational technologies that changes hydrogen technology and brings the hydrogen car to driveways around the country.

Filed with 14 co-sponsors, the three major prize categories include:

  • Technological advancements – Four $1 million prizes awarded annually in the categories of hydrogen production, storage, distribution and utilization.
  • Prototypes – One $4 million prize awarded every other year for the creation of a working hydrogen vehicle prototype.
  • Transformation technologies – A maximum $100 million prize — $10 million in cash and up to $90 million in matching funds for private capital — would be awarded for changes in hydrogen technologies that meet or exceed objective criteria in production and distribution to the consumer.
The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.The Secretary of Energy will contract with a private foundation or panel that will include experts in the field to establish criteria for the prizes.

The legislation is the result of comments made by a group of automotive, energy, academic and political leaders met in Washington late last year to discuss the concept of the H-Prize and how to give the industry and marketplace a shove toward the hydrogen economy and demonstrate a national commitment to energy security.

Bob Inglis