July 2009

7.23.2009
Toyota's first fuel cell vehicle will be priced shockingly low.
(view article)

7.23.2009
SC Launch® Company, Hyperion Partners LLC, Introduced at Renewable Energy Workshop
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7.19.2009
Legislation would restore hydrogen research funds
(view article)

7.19.2009
Hydrogen conference yields benefits
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7.9.2009
DLR motor glider Antares takes off in Hamburg - powered by a fuel cell
(view article)


July 23, 2009
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Toyota's first fuel cell vehicle will be priced shockingly low.

How low is “shockingly” low?

According to an article in Ward’s Auto, when Toyota puts its first production hydrogen fuel cell vehicle up for sale in 2015, the price will be so low it will “shock” the U.S. auto industry. Justin Ward, advanced powertrain program manager-Toyota Technical Center, said that economies of scale will be in place to drop the price down to something that is surprisingly low. Ward didn’t name the shocking price, but did say that Toyota is pleased where its fuel cell technology is today. The automaker fully expects the next iterations of the fuel cell technology - currently used in the FCHV - to be ready to meet all customer demands of range and operating temperature, and it will bring the cars to market whether the refueling infrastructure is in place or not. Toyota is currenlty testing customer behavior with hydrogen cars by seeing how people adapt from a standard Prius to a plug-in Prius to a fuel-cell prototype vehicle.

Right now, customers can lease a Honda FCX Clarity in Southern California for $600 a month. How low will the 2015 price have to be to shock you?


July 23, 2009
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SC Launch® Company, Hyperion Partners LLC, Introduced at Renewable Energy Workshop

CHARLESTON, SC – July 16, 2009 – South Carolina-based Hyperion LLC was introduced this month by SCRA’s SC Launch at a reception in Charleston following the first day of a two-day workshop focused on green, renewable and oceanic technology markets.

A new collaboration, The Clemson/Greenville Alternative Energy & Renewables Collaborative, has been formed among the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR); Greenville County, SC; the City of Greenville, SC; SCRA and Hyperion Partners, LLC. The collaborative will expand research, funding, educational and future knowledge-based economic development opportunities in South Carolina. The group will further enable South Carolina to lead the integration of alternative and renewable energy efforts in automotive, transportation and other industries.

Hyperion Partners is a start-up company formed to plan, coordinate and manage public and private renewable and alternative energy projects and ventures in the South Carolina Upstate. The company’s principals are Edward C. Marshall, Brad Van Meter, Gary F. Caldwell and Richard E. Parvey. Through this new collaboration, an initial project is underway to construct a hydrogen fueling station in the Upstate and produce and sell hydrogen and alternative fuel.

Hyperion is considering a location on the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research Campus for its first station in South Carolina. The station will provide immediate and ongoing research capability and long-range value for the community. It will be constructed to initially dispense Hydrogen, CNG (compressed natural gas) and propane as a demonstration project to enable the growth of new lines of research into alternative fuels at the research campus. The station will also provide the potential for City and County municipal fleet fueling and ultimately local, commercial use.

Research is planned for an adjacent residential and commercial community and located directly across Interstate I-85 from CU-ICAR.  Hydrogen and other alternative energy sources will serve as a research component for several of the developments planned within one of the largest planned urban infill residential and commercial developments in the Southeast, planned for a site directly across I-85 from CU-ICAR. Stationary fuel cell power generation could serve as stand-by, back-up or planned auxiliary supplement within the construction of the sustainably designed residential and commercial community.

This collaborative will enable commercialization of research from Clemson University and further strengthens South Carolina’s existing alternative energy presence. An existing hydrogen fueling station in Columbia with partners including Engenuity SC and the Columbia Fuel Cell Collaborative was built earlier this year. Looking forward, groups have already expressed interest to establish a similar collaborative based in the Lowcountry. These projects help realize the vision for South Carolina to lead alternative energy research and commercialization.

“SCRA is pleased to invest in this and other initiatives that fulfill our legislative mandates through the Innovation Centers and Industry Partnership Acts. We are extremely proud to partner with CURF, CU-ICAR, the City of Greenville and Greenville County as well as Hyperion to further grow an alternative and renewable energy economy in South Carolina,” said Bill Mahoney, SCRA CEO. “Over the last four years, sustainability and renewable energy has become a renewing vertical market for SCRA. Not only in energy but also in other aspects in sustainable value chains such as materials, processes and legacy data. Our work in sustainable markets including our DOE and DoD awards to put fuel cells in Fort Jackson, our award to administer the national H-prize and our Next Generation Manufacturing Technologies initiative on behalf of the Defense Logistics Agency are paving the way for future knowledge-based work in sustainability throughout South Carolina and our nation.”

“Hyperion's proposal to establish an alternative fueling station on the CU-ICAR campus is an excellent example of economic development through the knowledge economy. The project fits in with at least two of the emphasis areas of Clemson University (Automotive and Transportation Technology and sustainable Environment) and there is a very good reason to believe that future research will emerge from Clemson personnel in this area,” said Professor Joseph W. Kolis, Executive Director of the Clemson University Research Foundation, which assisted Hyperion with its SC Launch application.  

The Hyperion introduction followed the “Green, Renewable, Oceanic, Technology Transfer Outpost” workshop hosted by SCRA at the company’s Trident Research Center in North Charleston. The workshop was organized by SCRA and the Global Trade Guide Department of Institutional Research, Planning and Sponsored Programs. More than a dozen speakers for the two-day workshop included research leaders, international, federal and state officials and industry and university leaders. The workshop provided an opportunity for participants to exchange research strategies and build collaborations to capitalize on knowledge-based economic development opportunities focused on green technology innovation, including renewable energy topics covering wind, solar and biofuels technology.

SCRA has provided funding and support for more than 130 new knowledge-based start-ups in South Carolina since its inception in April, 2006 through its SC Launch program.

About SCRA
SCRA is a global leader in applied research and commercialization services with offices in South Carolina, Ohio and in the Washington, D.C. area. SCRA collaborates to advance technology, providing technology-based solutions with assured outcomes to industry and government, with the help of research universities in SC, the US and around the world.

About SC Launch
SC Launch, an SCRA affiliate, assists entrepreneurial start-up companies with up-front counseling, seed-funding, and access to a powerful resource network. The SC Launch mission is to help generate knowledge economy jobs in South Carolina, enhance the state’s quality of life and provide opportunity for all South Carolinians in the new economy.


July 19, 2009
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Legislation would restore hydrogen research funds

Congress is closer to restoring money for hydrogen research to the federal budget after the Obama administration originally submitted an executive budget request that cut it to $60 million from $160 million.

The House is considering $153 million for hydrogen and fuel cell research. A vote is expected as early as next week.

The Senate is also set to vote soon on $190 million in hydrogen and fuel cell funding.

The two bills then would go to a conference committee before being set in the final national budget and sent to President Obama.

“We are in the middle of the process,” said Patrick Serfass, spokesman for the National Hydrogen Association, which had its annual conference in Columbia in March. “Congress is ... making sure there is funding for a variety of alternative vehicle technology. It’s too early to pick winners and losers (in the alternative energy industries), which is what the administration’s request did.”

Columbia Mayor Bob Coble and others traveled to Washington in May, after the Obama budget proposal was made, to lobby the S.C. delegation to help restore the money.

“We left feeling very confident,” the mayor, who is on a trade mission to China, wrote in an e-mail. “While there is much work to do, this is great progress.”

The president’s requested cuts might have affected work at the Savannah River National Laboratory in Aiken County, which studies hydrogen production and storage, but would not have affected grants at USC, which focuses on fuel cells.

However, Coble said any cut in research anywhere in the state’s “Hydrogen Triangle” of Columbia/USC, Aiken County/Savannah River and Clemson would be a step backward.

“If the S.C. hydrogen economy is dealt a blow, it hurts Columbia’s hydrogen economy,” he wrote. “We need our entire congressional delegation to support our efforts in Columbia. We can’t go it alone. We need allies in Greenville, etc.”

U.S. Rep. Bob Inglis, R-Greenville, chairs the hydrogen caucus in the House, and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-Seneca, is chairman of the Senate caucus.

This year, the federal budget included $212 million for hydrogen research, up from $210 million in 2008 because of an influx of federal stimulus money for alternative energy.

Serfass said he is “cautiously optimistic” funding will be restored by Congress in its final budget.

But even then the funding level would pale in comparison with the $1 billion being considered to research better batteries for electric cars, considered by many a quicker cure for the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.

Serfass said that’s OK.

“We need both,” he said. “They do not take away from each other. We need a portfolio approach.”

Staff writer Sammy Fretwell contributed to this story.


July 19, 2009
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Hydrogen conference yields benefits

The number of new hydrogen-related firms interested in locating in the Midlands has increased dramatically since the National Hydrogen Conference was held in Columbia at the end of March, state and local business recruiters say.

Federal interest in conducting pilot fuel cell projects here also has accelerated, they say.

The conference cost taxpayers $383,000 — not including more than $1.5 million for two hydrogen fueling stations in Columbia and Aiken.

“We have had, directly as a result of the conference, a higher level of interest from larger companies and from higher leadership levels within those companies,” said Neil McLean, executive director of EngenuitySC, the organization formed by the city of Columbia, USC and private businesses to coordinate hydrogen efforts in the Midlands.

“Now they understand why somebody from South Carolina is calling them,” he said. “It’s easier to get to the right level of people in the right companies.”

Although none of the companies has committed to opening operations in South Carolina, recruiters say the increased interest shows the conference is paying off.

The weeklong hydrogen conference drew 700 participants from 22 countries. It also attracted more than 2,000 people to a one-day open house where they drove hydrogen cars and learned more about the budding technology.

Organizers said the conference logged $1 million in direct economic impact — hotel rooms booked, restaurant meals bought — and an additional $3 million or so in free advertising for the city and state through the 40 media outlets that carried stories on the conference.

The conference was both the exclamation point and springboard for the state’s and city’s efforts to become an international hydrogen player.

“The NHA conference is a huge part of our strategy,” Columbia Mayor Bob Coble said via e-mail from China, where he is touting the city as a hub for hydrogen technology and other “green” initiatives.

Hydrogen and fuel cell research is seen as a cornerstone in the city’s and state’s efforts to evolve from an economy based on manufacturing to one based on high-tech research and new products springing from that research — termed a “knowledge economy.”

Hydrogen and the fuel cells that run on it could end the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, powering everything from cell phone towers to automobiles pollution-free.

Many S.C. officials — including Coble, House Speaker Bobby Harrell and USC president Harris Pastides — say the state should move to position itself as a leader in the field.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” Harrell’s spokesman Greg Foster said of the conference and other efforts. “It shows we’re serious about making a commitment to solidify our place as a world leader in hydrogen technology development.”

But critics — Gov. Mark Sanford among them — say the state is spending millions backing a risky and expensive alternative fuel initiative that may not pan out.

While Sanford has supported small, targeted grants for hydrogen research, “the last thing we need is for politicians to pick the industry of the future,” spokesman Joel Sawyer said.

The state, city and USC have spent more than $40 million in the Midlands to create a hydrogen and fuel cell “hub” intended to attract private investment and federal grants.

Grants have poured in to USC since the state established two “endowed chairs” — special researchers and their teams — who specialize in fuel cells. The university has received more than $23 million in fuel cell grants and has $36 million more pending.

Some jobs also have been created — about 100 locally and more than 200 statewide, according to Harrell’s office.

But Sanford’s office and the libertarian think-tank S.C. Policy Council say the vast majority of those jobs are taxpayer-funded rather than private — university researchers, consultants and bureaucrats.

“This idea that the guys in the State House can create jobs is just not true,” said Policy Council president Ashley Landess. “Lobbyists and consultants and executive directors are government jobs. That is not job creation.”

She called the taxpayer-funded fueling stations “ridiculous.”

“South Carolinians don’t drive hydrogen cars. Nobody drives hydrogen cars,” she said. “Think of the real people — low- and moderate-income people — who had to pay for that” with their taxes.

Coble waves off the critics.

“These folks said in the 1950s that computers would never be a big deal,” he wrote. “They are the same people who say there is no global warming and that drilling is the answer” to the country’s dependence on foreign oil.

Hydrogen backers like Coble say the transition from publicly funded, research-related jobs to private-sector jobs will come as more hydrogen entrepreneurs discover the state.

The state Commerce Department has “some new prospects that are being followed up” after the hydrogen conference, spokeswoman Kara Borie said.

Officials of the S.C. Research Authority, the public-private agency that provides seed capital for new or relocating businesses, said it is working nine “solid prospects” because of the conference, compared with four before the event.

“People on the outside see that we are serious about creating a technology cluster here,” Research Authority chief executive officer Bill Mahoney said. “It’s a little bit of a chicken-and-an-egg thing, but they are seeing that they can get the support they need and succeed here.”

The U.S. Department of Energy also is taking more notice of Columbia and South Carolina as sites for more hydrogen fuel cell demonstration projects, Mahoney said.

The department funded a demonstration project — using a hydrogen fuel cell as a backup power source — at Fort Jackson, and is considering three more projects, he said:

• A self-contained green energy grid using solar, wind and hydrogen to power Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor

• A hydrogen shuttle service to link Columbia with McEntire and Shaw air bases

• A second hydrogen bus for Columbia’s transit system

He also said a private S.C. firm, Hyperion Partners, is working to build a hydrogen fueling station at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research.

Along with the fueling stations in Columbia and Aiken, it would create a “hydrogen triangle” similar to the hydrogen “test beds” in California, Mahoney said.

“The detractors say hydrogen has been 20 years away for 20 years,” he said. “But you have to have the applications (products) and you have to have the fueling structure.

“In two to five years, (products and private jobs) will come.”

Bang for the buck

A look at the costs and benefits of the National Hydrogen Conference held in Columbia in March:

Costs
$125,000 in city of Columbia hospitality taxes for the conference
$75,000 in Richland County hospitality taxes
$100,000 from USC
$82,650 from private sponsors
$1,000 from the S.C. Department of Commerce
$1.5 million from the state, Columbia and Aiken County for two hydrogen fueling stations — the state’s first — showcased at the conference

Benefits
Increased leads — but no commitments yet — from hydrogen entrepreneurs and firms that may be interested in locating in the area

Increased interest — and possibly three more hydrogen demonstration projects — from the U.S. Department of Energy

About $1 million in direct economic impact — from hotel rooms booked, meals bought, drinks purchased, etc.

About $3 million in free advertising from 40 media outlets who ran or aired stories

SOURCE: EngenuitySC


July 9, 2009
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DLR motor glider Antares takes off in Hamburg - powered by a fuel cell

Flying test laboratory will further the development of fuel cells for aerospace applications

On 7 July 2009, Antares DLR-H2, the world’s first piloted aircraft capable of taking off using only power from fuel cells, demonstrated this capability at Hamburg Airport. Antares DLR-H2 has been developed by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR). The Antares flies with zero CO2 emissions and has a much lower noise footprint than other, comparable, motor gliders. The propulsion system for this aircraft was developed at the DLR Institute for Technical Thermodynamics (Institut für Technische Thermodynamik – Stuttgart) in collaboration with its project partners – Lange Aviation, BASF Fuel Cells and Serenergy (Denmark). This motor glider achieves new quality standards in the field of high-efficiency, zero-emission energy conversion and clearly demonstrates the progress that has been made in fuel cell technology.

The centrepiece and greatest innovation on the Antares DLR-H2 is the fact that it is powered directly by means of an ultra-efficient fuel cell. “We have improved the performance capabilities and efficiency of the fuel cell to such an extent that a piloted aircraft is now able to take off using it,” stated Prof. Dr-Ing Johann-Dietrich Wörner, Chairman of the Executive Board at DLR. “This enables us to demonstrate the true potential of this technology, also and perhaps specifically for applications in the aerospace sector. Coupled with our expertise in fuel cell technology, DLR’s many years of extensive experience in gaining official approval for aerospace systems are what made the Antares DLR-H2 a feasible proposition.”

Standard motor glider retrofitted with fuel cell drive

The Antares DLR-H2 is based on the Antares 20E motor glider with a wingspan of 20 metres, constructed by Lange Aviation, a company based in the Rhineland-Palatinate region of Germany. With its fuel cell propulsion system, Antares has a cruising range of 750 kilometres, achieved in a flying time of five hours. In order to accommodate the fuel cell and the hydrogen supply on board the aircraft, two additional external load carriers were slung under the specially reinforced wings. Due to the extra 100 kilograms of payload that each of these removable and flexibly interchangeable containers is able to carry, the aeroelastic properties of the wings had to be reconfigured to prevent any adverse impact on the flight stability of the aircraft. Optimisation work at the DLR Institute for Aeroelasticity (Institut für Aeroelastik – Göttingen) now provides the Antares DLR-H2 with an assured capability to fly at speeds of up to 300 kilometres per hour without any wing flutter. The current propulsion system permits maximum flying speeds of approximately 170 kilometres per hour.

A fuel cell system is the centrepiece of propulsion technology

The fuel cell system was developed by the DLR Institute for Technical Thermodynamics in collaboration with BASF Fuel Cells (electrolytic membrane and catalysts) and Serenergy A/S (stack subsystem). The system uses hydrogen as its fuel, and this is converted into electrical energy in a direct, electrochemical reaction with oxygen in the ambient air, without any combustion occurring. During this zero-particulate reaction, the only by-product is water. If the hydrogen fuel is produced using renewable energy sources, then the motor glider genuinely flies without any CO2 emissions whatsoever. The fuel cell is slung under the left wing and the hydrogen tank under the right wing – with a capacity of either 2 or 4.9 kilograms. The fuel cell system used to power the Antares delivers up to 25 kilowatts of electrical power. When flying in a straight line, the aircraft only requires about ten kilowatts of power. In this situation, the fuel cell is operating at an efficiency level of approximately 52 percent.

The total efficiency of the drive system from tank to powertrain, including the propeller, is in the region of 44 percent, making it about twice as efficient as conventional propulsion technologies based on combustion processes. Systems powered by kerosene or diesel only contribute about 18 to 25 percent of their energy to propulsion.

“The top priority in this project is of course the safety and reliability of the fuel cell propulsion system,” stated Antares Project Manager Dr-Ing. Josef Kallo from the DLR Institute for Technical Thermodynamics. However, having the correct architecture for the entire system is just as important for full implementation of this project: ”This includes having an absolutely reliable fuel cell, in conjunction with propulsion system of the aircraft and, last but not least, a fully mature configuration for the aerodynamics and aeroelasticity of the motor glider.”

Another new feature of the Antares is the way its fuel cell is connected to the main electric motor that powers the aircraft. The motor controller, developed jointly with Lange Aviation and with the College of Advanced Technology in Berne/Biel, is capable of taking in and controlling voltages from 188 to 400 V. Through the direct link between fuel cell and motor, efficiency, costs, reliability and maintenance costs are minimised.

Fuel cell as future energy source for air transport

“With our successful first flight, we have verified the feasibility of fuel-cell powered flight and our next steps will focus on improving efficiency levels and on extending the service life of these systems”, stated Dr Kallo.  This could, for example, make it possible to significantly improve performance by optimising the cooling concepts, fuel cell architecture and components such as the air supply system. “At this stage, we have only tapped into a fraction of the performance capabilities of this technology for aerospace applications. The Antares DLR-H2 will help us to make much greater use of these areas of potential.”

Although the fuel cell may still be a long way from becoming the primary energy source for the propulsion of commercial aircraft, it does already constitute an interesting and important alternative to existing energy systems as a form of reliable on-board power supply. High efficiency levels go hand in hand with minimum pollutant emissions, lower noise levels, safe flying operations and high standards of passenger comfort. The aim of the research work being conducted by DLR is to employ fuel cells in real-life applications for commercial air transport – as a reliable supply source for on-board power. In an initial stage of development, DLR collaborated with Airbus Germany on a fuel cell system for providing an emergency power supply to the hydraulic pumps used to control the DLR research aircraft – the Airbus A320 ATRA. In a second step, the ongoing use of a fuel cell system to provide an on-board supply in large-volume transport aircraft is firmly on the drawing board. In future, the Antares DLR-H2 motor glider will provide a cost-effective platform for testing fuel cell systems for aerospace. Among other things, this optimises the test time of the DLR Airbus A320 ATRA.

Flying test laboratory will in future be teaming up with the Fuel Cell Lab in Hamburg

The Antares DLR-H2 will be based at Lufthansa Technik in Hamburg where, over the next three years, it will be acting as a flying test platform for the fuel cell test activities of DLR as part of its Fuel Cell Labs project. The Fuel Cell Lab was brought into being by the City of Hamburg on a joint basis with DLR and Airbus/EADS and is intended to ‘bundle’ a high proportion of the hydrogen and fuel cell activities being conducted in the greater Hamburg region. By stationing this research aircraft on the premises of Lufthansa Technik, direct contact can be established with an experienced technical development and maintenance operation in the air transport business. This linkage will also help to enhance the ease of operation and maintenance of the future fuel cell systems designed for use in large-volume air transport and developed by DLR in its capacity as a development partner for Airbus. To safeguard and further develop the level all-round flying expertise for this new fuel cell application, DLR and Lange Aviation GmbH have co-signed a cooperation agreement. Other partners who have already joined include BASF Fuel Cell GmbH, Serenergy A/S and Lufthansa-Technik AG, who came on board in the course of 2008.

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