By Lynn L. Bergeson
On October 11, 2018, President Trump issued a Presidential Determination that the development and purchase of equipment and materials needed for alane fuel cells are essential to the national defense. Alane fuel cells are, essentially, comprised of aluminum hydride and are possible alternatives to hydrogen fuel cells. According to manufacturers, the only byproducts are water and aluminum, the latter of which can be recycled.
Issuing the determination under Section 303 of the Defense Production Act of 1950, the President stated that “United States industry cannot reasonably be expected to provide the capability for the production of alane fuel cells adequately and in a timely manner. Further, purchases, purchase commitments, or other action pursuant to section 303 of the Act are the most cost effective, expedient, and practical alternative method for meeting the need for this critical capability.”
In general, Section 303 authorities can be used by the President to provide incentives for domestic private industry to produce and supply critical goods that are necessary for the national defense. It vests the President with an array of authorities to create, maintain, protect, expand, or restore domestic industrial base capabilities essential to the national defense. These authorities include purchasing or making purchase commitments of industrial resources or critical technology items; making subsidized payments for domestically produced materials; and installing and purchasing equipment for industrial facilities to expand their productive capacity.