February 2008

2.22.2008
Center for Hydrogen Research Rolls-Out First Hydrogen Vehicle Registered in South Carolina
(view article)

2.8.2008
SCRA Announces Procedure for Making Tax Deductible Contributions to the South Carolina Hydrogen Infrastructure Development Fund
(view article)

2.7.2008
Innovista | City to get fuel cell company
(view article)  


  February 22, 2008

Center for Hydrogen Research Rolls-Out First Hydrogen Vehicle Registered in South Carolina

Aiken:  The Center for Hydrogen Research and URS Washington Division rolled out South Carolina's first hydrogen fueled vehicle, the eTec Hydrogen Internal Combustion Engine (HICE) vehicle, a 2007 Chevrolet Silverado 1500. The vehicle was converted to be fueled by pure hydrogen from gasoline by Electric Transportation Engineering Corporation (eTec), a subsidiary of ECOtality (OTCBB: ETLY), of Phoenix, Arizona, with technical assistance from project partners Roush Industries and Powertech Labs.  eTec currently has several HICE vehicles operating in Canada and are in the process of modifying other vehicles for US customers.  A $175,000.00 grant provided by URS Washington Division was used to fund the project.  The eTec HICE Silverado is the first eTec converted hydrogen vehicle to be registered and operated in the United States.

The HICE Silverado is an OEM-quality conversion of the Chevrolet 1500 pickup using the Vortec 6.0 liter engine.  eTec, a recognized leader in the research, development and testing of advanced transportation energy systems and infrastructures led the conversion and provided engineering services. Project partners include, Roush Industries, a major automotive engineering and low-volume manufacturing company that services automotive OEM's and Tier One suppliers in the areas of automotive engineering, development and testing and Powertech Labs, a world-renowned facility for hydrogen storage components and systems design, testing and certification. With the expertise of ETEC, Roush and Powertech, the HICE Silverado is built to the highest quality and meets the latest hydrogen standards.

Ronnie Young, chairman of Aiken County Council, said "Our goal in constructing the Center for Hydrogen Research is to advance hydrogen technology, transfer technology from SRNL, and create new job opportunities in energy related fields.  The hydrogen vehicle is one more step towards achieving Aiken County goals."

Except for the unique exterior design, the modified Silverado is indistinguishable from a gasoline powered vehicle and very little appears different under the hood.  The engine is equipped with special injectors; a modified fuel system includes an intercooler and turbocharger coupled to a completely redesigned and modified computer control system.  Three hydrogen cylinders are located in the bed of the truck to provide hydrogen for a range of approximately 200 miles.  The truck is powered solely by hydrogen.

The vehicle will provide a real-world test bed for the development and evaluation of hydrogen storage systems, the critical link in advancing automotive hydrogen technology.  Companies and research organizations, such as the Savannah River National Laboratory, will be able to test hydrogen storage technology without having extensive modifications to a test vehicle.  Additionally, eTec and Roush will train instructors from Aiken Technical College in the service and maintenance of the truck.   When coupled with ATC's introduction this year of fuel cell and hydrogen curricula, this vehicle will provide a practical source for instruction in this advanced technology. 

The Center for Hydrogen Research will coordinate use of the vehicle and schedule demonstrations.  Education about the benefits of alternative fuels in achieving energy independence is critical at the K-12 level as well as the education of the general public in regards to hydrogen usage and safety.  The Center for Hydrogen Research is working closely with Aiken County and surrounding school districts to advance hydrogen technology.  In cooperation with the Savannah River National Laboratory, the CHR has supported educational programs for both teachers and students through demonstration projects and equipment.  This vehicle will also serve to demonstrate the applicability and safety of hydrogen technology.

For 18 years we have worked with the DOE and community leaders in this region to leverage the unique and special technology at SRS for the benefit of the local economy," said E. Preston Rahe, Jr., President of the Energy & Environment Business Unit of the Washington Division.  "This hydrogen truck literally puts us on the road to demonstrating the practical aspects hydrogen as a transportation fuel source not only for Aiken County, South Carolina and Georgia, but for the rest of the country as well."

Fred E. Humes, Director of the Economic Development Partnership, the owner of the vehicle said "The HICE vehicle will act as the "point-of-the-spear" for the introduction and development of hydrogen infrastructure in the state".   A major part of infrastructure development of hydrogen is establishing refueling stations within South Carolina.  The SC Legislature authorized the Hydrogen Infrastructure Development Act (HIDA) during the last legislative session which, if funded this year, can provide the possibility for matching funds for the construction of several stations within the state.  In the interim, Air Products has provided a temporary refueler, the HF150.  The HF150 currently located at the CHR will enable unrestricted local operation of the HICE vehicle.   During the roll-out ceremonies, a refueling demonstration for interested attendees was provided.

The CHR also announced the establishment of a hydrogen refueling station to provide a permanent source of hydrogen for its vehicle and other hydrogen powered vehicles.  Current plans are to keep the temporary station at the CHR until a more accessible location at Sage Mill Industrial Park on I-20 is constructed.  Placement of the station is a major step forward in advancing the hydrogen infrastructure in South Carolina and the United States and will be the first refueling station on Interstate 20. 

Electric Transportation Engineering Corporation (eTec), a wholly owned subsidiary of ECOtality, is a recognized leader in the research, development and testing of advanced transportation energy systems and infrastructures. Committed to commercially advancing clean electric technologies with clear market advantages, eTec manufactures and provides hydrogen internal combustion engine (HICE) conversions, battery fast charge equipment and fueling stations for electric and hydrogen powered vehicles.  

Roush Industries, Inc is a leading supplier of automotive engineering, development and manufacturing services.  Roush is the world's largest supplier of integrated motorsports marketing services.  Roush also manufactures and markets performance vehicles, crate motors and components.  Headquartered in Livonia MI., Roush employs more than 2,000 people in 50 locations throughout North America, Mexico, and the United Kingdom.

The Center for Hydrogen Research is located on the Savannah River Research Campus in Aiken County, SC.  The 60,000 square foot facility houses scientists and technicians from the SRNL as well as providing laboratory and office space for private sector companies, university researchers and technology transfer offices.


February 8, 2008

SCRA Announces Procedure for Making Tax Deductible Contributions to the South Carolina Hydrogen Infrastructure Development Fund

For more information please contact:
SCRA
Russ Keller
843.760.4358
kellerr@scra.org

Charleston, SC -- SCRA announced today the procedure for citizens to make a tax deductible contribution to the South Carolina Hydrogen Infrastructure Development Fund (HIDF). In June 2007, the South Carolina General Assembly enacted S 243, which established the South Carolina HIDF. The revenues from this fund must be distributed in the form of grants and used for the purpose of promoting the development and deployment of hydrogen production, storage, distribution, and dispensing infrastructure and related products and services that enable the growth of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies in the State. The Act did not receive appropriations in 2007 due to a budget shortfall. "The South Carolina Hydrogen Infrastructure Development Fund is a significant step towards creating a clean and sustainable source of energy for our state citizens "said Shannon Baxter-Clemmons, Executive Director of the South Carolina Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Alliance. The fund is one way for the public to get involved in what is shaping up to be a major economic engine for South Carolina. The General Assembly authorized two mechanisms through which revenue can be made available to the HIDF:

a. Direct appropriations from the State's general fund in fiscal years 2008, 2009 and 2010, not to exceed a total of $15 million; and/or

b. Donations to the fund from taxpayers, who would receive a 25% credit against South Carolina income tax, license fees, or insurance premium tax. The credit is non-refundable with a 10-year carry forward provision.

S 243 designated SCRA as executor of the Fund on behalf of the state of South Carolina, and directed SCRA to administer the process of receiving taxpayer contributions to the Fund and issuing the requisite tax credit certifications. Any person or organization desiring to contribute to this Fund may do so by sending a check, payable to the South Carolina HIDF to the following address:

SC Hydrogen Infrastructure Development Fund
c/o South Carolina Research Authority
5300 International Blvd.
North Charleston, SC 29418
Attn: Julia Martin

Contributors should include the donor's full name and home/business address, and indicate where the tax credit certification should be mailed. Upon receipt of the contribution, SCRA will issue the tax credit certification and deposit the contribution in the account prescribed by the South Carolina Department of Treasury for this purpose.

About SCRA

SCRA is a global leader in applied research and commercialization services with offices in Anderson, Charleston, and Columbia. SCRA collaborates to advance technology with industry, government, and SCRA collaborates to advance technology with industry, government, and research universities like Clemson University, the University of South Carolina and the Medical University of South Carolina. For more information please visit www.scra.org.

About the South Carolina Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Alliance (SCHFCA)

The SCHFCA is a nonprofit partnership of government, business, academia and citizens working together to grow the economies of local communities, the state and the nation, to enable energy security and to limit our environmental footprint with the use of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies that are cost-effective, convenient and produced with local resources. For more information on the SCHFCA, please visit www.schydrogen.org.


February 7, 2008

Innovista | City to get fuel cell company

By ADAM BEAM - abeam@thestate.com

USC’s Innovista, the budding research campus that touts itself as a leader in hydrogen fuel cell research, is getting a tenant that is ready to come and make money off the fledgling technology.

Gecko Energy Technologies, a New Jersey-based company, will open a branch in Columbia to begin testing and manufacturing a portable battery-like device that can provide power for emergency workers.

Although the initial investment is small — roughly $250,000 this year for three employees — USC and city officials hailed the move as the first small step toward transforming Columbia into a hub for hydrogen production and creating what Mayor Bob Coble calls a “ knowledge-based economy.”

Innovista has plenty of companies conducting hydrogen fuel cell research, but none actually makes products to sell. That’s why Gecko is a first for the research campus.

Coble is expected to make the announcement tonight in his annual State of the City address.

“Having fuel cell companies to sell products — that is what is going to change our economy,” Coble said.

And Gecko wants to move quickly. The plan is to make about 25 devices this year and have the Columbia Division of Emergency Operations test them.

By 2009, Gecko hopes to manufacture upwards of 10,000 devices, said Ronald Kelley, co-founder and CEO of Gecko. In three years, the company could employ up to 100 people.

“What we want to do is build real, honest-to-goodness manufacturing facilities here in South Carolina,” Kelley said.

As a smaller company, Gecko’s move is a turnaround from USC’s previous ventures into the hydrogen business community. An earlier attempt to land a hydrogen behemoth failed and cost USC money and — more importantly — time.

And after news of USC’s delays with research campus construction and problems financing the buildings, USC hopes Gecko will lay the groundwork for a flourishing hydrogen-based manufacturing business community.

“It means that we’re trying to create a hub,” said Harris Pastides, USC’s vice president for research and health sciences. “Not just an arm or a location where it happens, but a hub.”

Gecko will start out in the USC business incubator on Laurel Street. They hope to move eventually into one of the university’s Horizon buildings. The Horizon I building is under construction at Main and Blossom streets. Construction has not started on the Horizon II building.

A fuel cell is a battery-like device that creates energy by mixing hydrogen and oxygen. Gecko makes PowerSkin, a type of fuel cell. Gecko is owned by Millennium Cell, a company that makes the fuel for hydrogen fuel cells.

Together, they will make a device that will give emergency workers light and have a USB port to charge cell phones and other devices..

The product is different from traditional batteries in that it doesn’t have a shelf life. It can sit on a shelf forever and won’t lose power as long as it isn’t activated.

To activate, just add water and push a button, and it will start generating electricity. Kelley said it should last about four times as long as a conventional battery.

Gecko officials believe it will be the first product with a fuel cell and hydrogen fuel in the same device.

“One of the major advantages that we bring to the table, I believe, is the wedding of the fuel and the fuel cell in a package that is easy to understand, simple to use and very efficient for the consumer,” said G. Chris Anderson, chairman of the board of directors for Millennium Cell.

‘WHY WE ARE HERE’

USC has positioned itself to be a leader in hydrogen fuel cell research. The university has the nation’s only National Science Foundation-sponsored cooperative research center for fuel cells. It has attracted researchers from such companies as Boeing, John Deere, BASF and General Motors.

But USC officials can thank a nameless equestrian enthusiast for bringing Gecko to Columbia.

Kelley said on his first trip to Columbia he was on a plane next to a woman on her way back from a horse show.

Once she found out Kelley was in the fuel cell business, he said, she asked him lots of knowledgeable questions about the topic.

“That impressed the heck out of me, and I think that is really why we are here. The whole community is behind this effort. So if it’s going to succeed anywhere, it’s going to succeed here.”

Reach Beam at (803) 771-8405.

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