(KTEN) — In March, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana established the HALO Hydrogen Hub to promote development of hydrogen as a source of energy.

Now the U.S. Department of Energy is encouraging the Hub to submit a full application to receive federal funding.

"They eliminated about 60% of applicants after the first round," Oklahoma Secretary of Energy and Environment Ken McQueen said. "The whole intent of the proposal we submitted to DOE is to develop a hydrogen economy and ecosystem." 

The program will appropriate up to $7 billion to develop six to 10 regional hubs demonstrating the production and end use of clean hydrogen.

The DOE invited 33 applicants — including the HALO Hub — to submit final applications after completing independent evaluations of 79 broad pitch proposals.

"We believe there are three main focus areas where hydrogen might be a useful application — that would be in power generation, heavy haul trucking fuel, and fertilizer production. Oklahoma is well suited in the middle of the country to benefit from all three of those applications," McQueen said. "I would say that Ardmore, in particular, is ideally suited with it between Oklahoma City and Dallas as a potential hydrogen fueling spot for heavy haul trucks."

Ardmore city staffers are looking forward to the potential development of hydrogen energy in southern Oklahoma.

"In Ardmore, we have a lot of oil and natural gas, so potentially adding this new source of energy for our country and having it potentially produced here in Ardmore and in Oklahoma itself is pretty exciting," Ardmore City Manager Kevin Boatright said. 

Lowering the cost of hydrogen production is a priority for the HALO hub.

"Hydrogen production is more expensive than other sources, and that’s why we are excited about this DOE money because it gives us the opportunity to explore and develop new technology and advance existing technologies," McQueen said. "And hopefully drive the per cost of hydrogen production down so that it is competitive with other fuel sources."

The DOE is expected to announce funding recipients in the fall of next year.