Hydrogen Event a Boon for Columbia
South Carolina Lands National Hydrogen Association Annual Conference for 2009
Millennium Cell Joins USC Fuel Cell Research Center
THE MAIN BARRIER blocking South Carolina from taking a key role
in the growth of hydrogen as an energy source might be decidedly nontechnical:
Not enough people know about the state’s assets.
That why it’s such good news that the National Hydrogen Association will hold its 2009 convention at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, the first national gathering to be booked there. The event should help investors and others in the field see South Carolina’s impressive core of hydrogen research institutions.
The state can boast the only national Science Foundation-recognized center for fuel cell research, at USC. Other major assets: the Savannah River National Laboratory near Aiken and Clemson’s International Center for Automotive Research. Altogether, the state has many of the key ingredients to build an economic base in power production using hydrogen.
But South Carolina also risks being overlooked, especially when bigger states, some with an ex-movie star for governor, promote their hydrogen resources. That’s why it's great to hear that many of the national leaders in this emerging technology will be gathering here.
Columbia, in cooperation with USC, has worked hard to promote this city’s hydrogen future, and that is paying dividends. Congratulations to all who worked to land this important event.
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SC Lands NHA Annual Conference in Columbia for 2009
The South Carolina Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Alliance (SCHFCA),
comprised of USC, the Savannah River National Laboratory, Clemson University,
South Carolina State University and the Center for Hydrogen Research, and allies
win proposal to host the National Hydrogen Alliance Annual conference in
Columbia, SC - The National Hydrogen Association, headquartered in Washington, DC, announced that it has selected Columbia, SC to host its annual conference in 2009. More than 1,200 attendees are expected to travel from around the world to attend the conference according to forecasted NHA registration numbers.
The SCHFCA submitted a proposal to the NHA Board of Directors indicating its interest in hosting the event. The University of South Carolina, as one of the NHA member institutions and a member of the NHA Board of Directors, assisted the SCHFCA in its efforts. The university's developments with its Innovista innovation district and the Center for Hydrogen Research in Aiken helped cement the NHA's decision to bring the conference to Columbia because of the many hydrogen and fuel cell related attractions that will be available to attendees.
Also assisting the Alliance in securing the conference was the Columbia Convention Center Bureau, EngenuitySC, the South Carolina Research Authority, the South Carolina Department of Commerce and the City of Columbia.
The complementary areas of expertise in hydrogen and fuel cells that exist in South Carolina among the SCHFCA members was a major factor in the conference coming to Columbia. The SCHFCA boasts of world-class technology with the nation's only Industry/University Cooperative Research Center for Fuel Cells at USC, which is funded by the National Science Foundation; the nation's largest staff of hydrogen storage and production scientists at the Savannah River National Laboratory and Center for Hydrogen Research and; Clemson University and the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research and its automotive expertise. Collaboration among the various member organizations has been a top priority.
The 2009 Annual NHA Conference is expected to catapult the state's many related hydrogen and fuel cell initiatives into national prominence.
Fred Humes, Chairman of the SCHFCA Board of Directors said, "the selection of South Carolina and Columbia as the site of the Annual NHA Conference is a great step forward in the state's efforts to establish itself as one of the leaders in the hydrogen economy." He added, "it is a recognition of the work the state and the organization have accomplished in just a few months' time. Since our inception in January of this year, all our members and allies have worked hard to promote South Carolina's capability in hydrogen and fuel cell technology."
The economic benefit to the City of Columbia hosting a conference of this size will be significant. Hotels, restaurants and attractions in the Midlands all stand to gain from the event.
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Hydrogen event a boon for Columbia
Call the National Hydrogen Association’s decision to hold its
2009 annual meeting in Columbia an economic development twofer.
With an estimated $1 million local impact, the hydrogen meeting will be the first national business or trade association meeting booked into the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center since it was completed in September 2004.
But more importantly to South Carolina’s economy in the long run, it’s an acknowledgment the state has “a lot going on” in the development of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.
“A lot of people are very impressed with the resources in South Carolina and the level of activity for developing hydrogen technologies,” said Patrick Serfass, spokesman for the National Hydrogen Association.
"We all want to learn about that and make sure that we are involving S.C. businesses and companies in the hydrogen industry as much as they can be.”
Landing the 20th Annual Hydrogen Conference — the largest hydrogen conference in the country and the longest running annual hydrogen conference in the world — was a statewide effort led by the S.C. Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Alliance.
While the principal meetings will be in Columbia, other parts of the state will be involved, said Fred Humes, alliance chairman.
One of the things that sparked the association’s interest in coming to South Carolina was the Center for Hydrogen Research in Aiken, along with the work being done by the Savannah River National Laboratory, Humes said.
The association intends to hold an event at the Center for Hydrogen Research before or after the annual meeting, he said.
An estimated 1,200 people will attend the four-day meeting March 31-April 3, 2009, as well as pre- and post-meeting sessions that will be held in Columbia and other places around the state.
The total economic impact should be at least $1 million said Steve Camp, president and CEO of the Midlands Authority for Conventions, Sports & Tourism.
“This is the kind of meeting and convention that we dream about,” Camp said. “This is what we have been striving for. It is a good reward for all the hard work.”
The attendees will stay at the new Hilton hotel scheduled to open next year at Senate and Park streets across from the convention center in the Congaree Vista, as well as other hotels in the area.
The availability of the convention center hotel was a key part of the city’s being able to land the meeting, Camp said.
The University of South Carolina’s role also was critical.
Tony Boccanfuso, USC’s director of research and economic development, is on the National Hydrogen Association’s board of directors.
Having the meeting in Columbia, he said, “clearly demonstrates that people outside the state recognize that South Carolina has a lot going on as it relates to hydrogen research, development, procurement, deployment and demonstration.
“We were able to convince the National Hydrogen Association staff who visited that we have something special going on here.”
The annual hydrogen meeting usually is held in a larger city. The 2006 meeting was in Long Beach, Calif.; the 2007 meeting will be in San Antonio; and the 2008 meeting will be in Sacramento, Calif. Columbia beat out Albuquerque, N.M., for the 2009 meeting.
In addition to the attendees, Serfass said the conference generally attracts about 100 exhibitors.
The conference is about three days long with side events and workshops held before and after, Serfass said. “It ends up being about a week of hydrogen activity.”
While it is an industry conference, over the past couple of years it has begun to attract more public interest.
One of the main attractions is the “Ride and Drive,” Serfass said, and one of the largest displays of hydrogen vehicles in the country.
Columbia Mayor Bob Coble probably will be first in line for a test drive.
“This convention will clearly put Columbia on the map for the hydrogen economy,” Coble said.
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Millennium Cell Joins USC Fuel Cell Research Center
Millennium Cell Inc., a leading developer of hydrogen battery
technology, has joined the University of South Carolina's Industry/University
Cooperative Research Center for Fuel Cells.
The nation's only National Science Foundation-sponsored fuel cell center, IUCRC was established in 2003 to foster the commercialization of fuel-cell technologies.
Like the center's other members, Millennium Cell will partner with USC faculty and students to advance research in hydrogen storage materials, fuel cell development, boron chemistry, and hydrogen battery systems.
"We are pleased to join the USC Fuel Cell Research Center and add our approaches to those of the well-known companies already partnering with USC researchers in the seeking innovative solutions to advance the commercial applications and deployment of hydrogen batteries," Millennium Cell CEO David Ramm said.
Dr. John Van Zee, the director of USC's fuel cell research center and a professor of chemical engineering, said Millennium Cell's decision "to join our center is another important step in our efforts to create a Future FuelsTM research hub in Columbia."
In addition to Millennium Cell, center members include Air Liquide, BASF AG, Boeing, DANA Corporation, ePower Technologies, General Motors Corporation, John Deere, LG Electronics, and Westinghouse Savannah River Co.
Millennium Cell develops hydrogen battery technology to power portable devices military, medical, industrial and consumer electronics.
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