Skip to Main Content

Hawaiʻi Center for Advanced Transportation Technologies (HCATT)

Our Mission

Inspiring and transforming Hawaiʻi’s clean energy future.

HCATT logo

The Hawaiʻi Center for Advanced Transportation Technologies was established in 1993 by the U.S. Air Force and the State of Hawaiʻi as a National Demonstration Center for fuel efficient and zero emission transportation technologies for military and commercial needs. HCATT is a pioneer of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, and has evolved over two decades of hydrogen and fuel cells research, demonstration, and education in partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and the State of Hawaiʻi. HCATT has successfully executed numerous federal and publicly funded projects and brings significant expertise in hydrogen technology demonstration and validation.

HCATT is furthering its commitment to renewable energy technology development through a $30 million, 5-year cooperative agreement with AFRL, National Guard Bureau, and Hawaiʻi Air National Guard and has established the Pacific Energy Assurance Renewables Laboratory (PEARL) microgrid; a renewable energy demonstration project to address the USAF’s climate priorities of maintaining air and space dominance in the face of climate risks.

PEARL is located at the 154th Wing, Hawaiʻi Air National Guard, Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam. PEARL’s key objectives are to provide mission assurance, energy resiliency, and cyber security to the 154th Wing through the application of renewable energy technologies and cyber secure design. It also serves as a prototype for adapting and transitioning distributed energy generation, storage, and control of renewable energy technologies; and serves as a benchmark renewable energy microgrid and laboratory for DoD and in supporting the State of Hawaiʻi’s 2045 Renewable Portfolio Standards.

Our Vision

H2: First element, foremost solution.

What We Do

  • Facilitate renewable energy solutions for INDOPACOM and State of Hawaiʻi.
  • Foster collaborations between State, Department of Defense, public and private sector partners.
  • Innovate hydrogen and renewable energy solutions.
  • Develop Hawaiʻi as the leader in the Pacific for hydrogen technology integration.

Frequently Asked Question’s

In response to an Air Force Request for Proposal in August 2018 for a Resilient Power Generation and Advanced Energy Storage RTD&E Project, HCATT initiated a design build microgrid demonstration project with the Hawaiʻi Air National Guard (HIANG) at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam (JBPHH) which has since been named the Pacific Energy Assurance and Renewables Laboratory (PEARL). HCATT in collaboration with AFRL, A&E Burns & McDonnell, the National Guard Bureau, Air Force Engineering Center, Hawaiʻi Air National Guard, Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command, and other key partners will continue to design and demonstrate resilient, reliable, renewable energy power generation and advance energy storage and distribution within the PEARL microgrid.

Hydrogen is a clean fuel that, when passed through a fuel cell, produces electricity and yields only water and heat as a byproduct. Today, the most common methods of hydrogen fuel production are natural gas reforming (a thermal process) and electrolysis. Hydrogen is odorless, can be produced renewably using power from wind and/or solar to power the electrolysis process and emits zero greenhouse gasses when utilized. These qualities make it an attractive fuel option for electric vehicle transportation and electric utility applications. Hydrogen fuel can be used in cars, in houses, and for portable power.

Hydrogen is the lightest element on the periodic table, with an atomic weight of 1.008. This means that hydrogen readily dissipates into the surrounding atmosphere, making it difficult to ignite if it is not confined. However, hydrogen is an energy carrier that is indeed – as is the case with many other fuels – highly combustible when concentrated and in the presence of oxygen. Risk assessments show however, that it is no more dangerous than other fossil fuels or natural gas. When using hydrogen it is important to be in a well-ventilated area to limit the potential for hydrogen accumulation. Hydrogen fuel can be used safely for transportation, in homes, in commercial buildings and for efficiency and conservation efforts and has been safely in use for over 100 years.

A fuel cell combines hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity. The byproduct of this electrochemical reaction is water and heat. The fuel cell produces electricity and heat by electrochemically reacting a fuel (which is generally hydrogen or hydrogen-rich) with oxygen. Unlike a conventional engine, it does this without burning the fuel and can therefore be more efficient and cleaner.

The Air Force Research Laboratory is a global technical enterprise whose mission is leading the discovery, development, and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for the Air Force’s Air, Space and Cyberspace force.


The Pacific Energy Assurance and Renewables Laboratory (PEARL) is a renewable energy microgrid project demonstrating new ways for military facilities to address energy needs, mission assurance and cybersecurity. PEARL provides a measure of energy assurance to guard against natural disasters, cyber threats, and disruptions in power, helping to ensure continued operations for the Hawaiʻi Air National Guard, 154th Wing. PEARL is a multiyear collaboration with the Air Force Research Laboratory and National Guard to expand the use of renewable energy technologies such as hydrogen, photovoltaic, and energy storage systems. PEARL also serves as a business and technical prototype for the State in achieving its 2045 renewable portfolio standard. 

Hydrogen Vehicles

As the pre-eminent agency in developing hydrogen technologies for the Department of Defense, HCATT in conjunction with a consortium led by US Hybrid designed and engineered unique, proof of concept hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicles and ground support equipment. These systems established the foundational work for the integration of hydrogen technologies for operational use by the Hawaiʻi Air National Guard and United States Air Force. Visit each page to learn more about each project.

Renewable Energy Infrastructure

Fuel Cell Mobile Power

HCATT in the News


Microgrid Concepts & Applications

The video provides an overview of microgrid concepts and their application in providing for reliable and secure energy distribution in lieu of current centralized energy transmission and management.

Hydrogen’s Role in Transportation

HCATT developed and demonstrated some of the first hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and equipment for the USAF. The video showcases the advantages and potential of hydrogen in all aspects of transportation.