November 2008

Special Report: Secrets of SRS
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County OK's loan for hydrogen fuel station
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Aiken County receives 600K loan for hydrogen fueling station
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Santee Cooper, Center for Hydrogen Research announce new venture
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SC company partnering to make hydrogen generators
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November 22, 2008
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Special Report: Secrets of SRS

Half a century ago, the Savannah River Site was a top spot for our government to meet nuclear needs during the Cold War.

There were secret projects…and buzz words that surrounded the site: ‘hydrogen bomb’ and ‘nuclear reactor.’

But half a century later, SRS’s mission has shifted. They now clean up harmful materials. And SRS researchers are looking to make this a sound of the past.

Dr. Theodore Motyka, Hydrogen Program Manager: “Eventually we’ll all run on hydrogen in my opinion. It’s a matter of when.”

At the Savannah River National Lab, teams of scientists and researchers work at turning every day materials into fuel.

One of the most promising alternatives they’re looking at is hydrogen: Why? Because there are so many ways to capture hydrogen gas, and when it comes out your exhaust pipe…it’s 100% pure.

Dr. Ragaiy Zidan, Advisory Scientist: “It’s just water, it’s clean water, actually cleaner than the water you drink from your faucet.”

Dr. Chris Yeager, Senior Scientist: “These are different strains of cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, that we are growing, to run experiments on.”

Your average pond scum, trapped inside closed spaces, produces hydrogen. That gas is captured, compressed, and eventually becomes fuel.

Dr. Hector Colon-Mercado, Fellow Scientist: “And this is just a small version of what would be used in your car.”

A hydrogen engine would run on a fuel cell.

Dr. Colon-Mercado: “Through this, you’d be flowing the hydrogen, which is your fuel.”

So if we have ways to get hydrogen, and we know how to make a car run on it, why aren’t we all driving around in hydrogen cars?

Dr. Zidan: “We’re missing hydrogen storage. We’re missing having the material that can store enough hydrogen on board that you can drive your car without giving up the privilege of driving the 300 miles.”

Dr. Motyka: “That is what they call the grand challenge, is how to store enough hydrogen in the vehicle to give you about a 300 mile range.”

So while scientists work daily to get tanks small enough….other projects are underway to fix our current addiction to oil.

Joy Howe, Reporting : You’ve heard politicians chant ‘drill baby drill’ well researchers at SRS say ‘grow baby grow.’”

They’re looking at a common roadside weed as fuel for your car.

Those cells are turned into ethanol. You might already be putting it in your gas tank. Many stations use a 10% ethanol, 90% gasoline mix. The goal is to one day have an 85% ethanol, 15% gasoline mix.

Dr. Charles Turick, Principal Scientist: “It’s part of the present, and it will continue to be part of the future, and a bigger part of the future.”

They’re even working on getting ethanol from pine trees.

Elizabeth Easter, Jackson, SC: “That’s really, really cool.”

Earnest Simmons, New Ellenton, SC: “If we can solve the problem without having to go over there, let’s do it.”

So when will this future fuel be an everyday thing?

Dr. Zidan: “I think that depends on our commitment as a country, I mean, if we really commit enough and understand that the hydrogen problem, the energy problem, then people would commit enough resources to solve this problem.”

Researchers say it’s going to take *our* support to make hydrogen and ethanol the better bet for our fuel. And maybe that’s the biggest secret of all.

Right now, there are two big problems with hydrogen--one, you heard, is getting it compact enough to put in a tank on a car. The second is price--right now hydrogen is pretty expensive. But the government’s goal is to have fuel cell vehicles ready for all of us within the next eleven years.

WJBF News Channel 6 Aiken County Reporter
Published: November 6, 2008

November 22, 2008
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County OK's loan for hydrogen fuel station

AIKEN --- Aiken County, determined to be at the forefront of hydrogen-fuel technology research, is taking the next step by building a fixed hydrogen fueling station.

The county council on Tuesday approved accepting a $600,000 loan from the state energy officer to build the station. "We are going to locate the central hydrogen facility out at Sage Mill Industrial Park," said Fred Humes, of the Aiken Edgefield Economic Development Partnership and the Center for Hydrogen Research.

In the past couple of months, the county has built up local demand for hydrogen with the purchase of a hydrogen internal combustion engine truck and 43 hydrogen-fueled forklifts bought by Bridgestone-Firestone.

The fueling station should be running by early spring. "It's really a neat technology for the county to be involved in. It's leading-edge stuff," county Administrator Clay Killian. "We're excited about being able to do it and partner with the national lab to try to improve our lot in life as far as energy independence is concerned."

Since 2001, the federal government has provided nearly $18 billion in funding to research, develop and promote alternative energy technologies.

In 2003, President Bush announced a $1.2 billion hydrogen fuel initiative to develop the technology for hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles, and car companies jumped on board. "There are probably nine or 10 different car companies now that have hydrogen fuel celled vehicles," Mr. Humes said, noting that General Motors in the past several years has spent a billion dollars on fuel cell vehicles.

But with the economic slump and the three major domestic automakers begging for a federal bailout, hydrogen research as an alternative fuel could take a hit.

"The car companies are having issues right now, and yes, they're not very profitable, their stock is down and it will take time for them to develop this new technology," Mr. Humes said. "But if you look at other car companies -- Honda, Toyota, Volkswagen -- all of them have hydrogen vehicles, and they have all said they will be putting fleets of vehicles in large metropolitan areas in the next couple of years."

When the new administration takes office, Mr. Humes said, he believes the support for hydrogen research will continue. "The Obama administration has indicated that they are going to put sizeable amounts of money into renewable, alternative energies, and hydrogen is part of that," he said.

Reach Michelle Guffey at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110

November 21, 2008
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Aiken County receives 600K loan for hydrogen fueling station

Hydrogen could be the automotive fuel of the future, and Aiken County is poised to be at the forefront of that new wave. Aiken County Council voted unanimously this week to accept a $600,000 loan from the South Carolina Energy Office for the establishment of a hydrogen fueling station at Sage Mill Park. It did so with the strong support of the Aiken Edgefield Economic Development Partnership, which plans to be an active participant in the project, said Director Fred Humes.

Hydrogen is the simplest and most abundant element in the universe, which can power vehicles in two ways. It is either burned in engines as regular gasoline is or, in fuel-cell conversion, hydrogen is reacted with water to produce water and electricity. The electricity is then used to power an electric traction motor.

Using hydrogen to power the nation's cars could mean far less dependence on disappearing fossil fuels, no more noxious fumes at the gas station and no more polluting carbon-dioxide emissions.

But its possibilities pose a "chicken and egg" quandary for those looking to tap into it: how can consumers be persuaded to buy hydrogen-fueled cars if drivers can't find fuel? And, how can companies commit to building hydrogen stations if few people own the cars?

"Do you have the vehicles first or the infrastructure?" Humes said. "We have tried to break into that cycle. It is a visionary approach."

Earlier this year, the Center for Hydrogen Research and URS Washington Division rolled out South Carolina's first hydrogen fueled vehicle -- the eTec Hydrogen Internal Combustion Engine vehicle, a 2007 Chevrolet Silverado 1500. A $175,000 grant provided by URS Washington Division was used to fund the project.

The truck spurs dialogue about hydrogen cars, which helps fuel demand for these types of vehicles and could attract new industry to the region and bring economic growth.

"The availability of such a fixed fueling station at Sage Mill Park, adjacent to various industrial facilities and near Interstate 20, would enhance the (efforts to support the development of hydrogen fuel as fuel in motor vehicles and industrial vehicles) and also serve as an educational and information site for such technology," County Council's ordinance reads.

Humes said Columbia officials also are venturing into hydrogen fuel and in the "not too distant future, there could be a hydrogen fueling facility in Atlanta."

Columbia, Aiken and Atlanta could become known as a hydrogen corridor, he added.

Source:Haley Hughes (Aiken Standard - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX)

November 21, 2008
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Santee Cooper, Center for Hydrogen Research announce new venture

AIKEN, SC - November 21, 2008 - Santee Cooper and the Center for Hydrogen Research announced a contract today that significantly advances hydrogen generation from renewable energy sources. Santee Cooper is providing $230,000 to the Center for the purchase of a photovoltaic array (PV) to help research applications of hydrogen as a storage solution for solar energy.

The PV array will be installed early in 2009 at the Center’s planned Education, Training and Development Laboratory at Aiken County’s Savannah River Research Campus. Part of Santee Cooper’s contribution will also be used for on-site and Internet-based education and research opportunities for students and the public. Funding is provided through Santee Cooper’s Green Power program, which the state’s 20 electric cooperatives support and promote/

Aiken Electric Cooperative facilitates the sale of Green Power to its member-owners. In an additional development, the Center for Hydrogen Research Aiken County has become a Green Power Partner. That means the Center has agreed to purchase blocks of Green Power each month from Aiken Electric.

One obstacle to the use of solar energy is difficulty storing the energy so that it can be utilized when the sun isn’t shining. Hydrogen can be stored and transported, and so is a recognized energy storage solution that has applications for powering vehicles or electrical generation. Most hydrogen today comes from natural gas. Renewable energy-sourced hydrogen is a fast-growing research and development field across the country.

“Santee Cooper is committed to pursuing new technologies that could expand the applications for renewable energy,” said Lonnie Carter, Santee Cooper president and chief executive officer.  “ The Center for Hydrogen Research is leading the way in South Carolina, helping discover processes through which we can store solar and wind energy for use when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing. This demonstration project also complements and enhances strategic hydrogen and fuel cell industries in South Carolina.”

Fred Humes, director of the center, said, “This is a great step forward as we look to the development of hydrogen production from renewable sources and build upon the developmental capabilities of the Center for Hydrogen Research. We recognize South Carolina may not have the same solar potential as many of the western states, but solar energy can still play a major role here. The PV array will allow us to develop a baseline for the potential contribution of renewable PV energy in the production of hydrogen, especially in small quantities or in remote areas.”

The PV array would convert sunlight into electricity, which would then produce hydrogen through electrolyzing water. Hydrogen could be converted back to electricity using fuel cells, and it could power hydrogen-fueled vehicles.

“We have recognized for many years the tremendous potential we have in Aiken County for the advancement of technology that can be beneficial to this nation,” said Ronnie Young, chairman of Aiken County Council. “This will be a much-valued asset as we advance our technology transfer programs into production of hydrogen from renewable energy and research the potential for solar power in our region. We appreciate very much the far-sighted approach Santee Cooper takes to the development of alternative energy sources through partnership with local communities.”
Gary Stooksbury, chief executive officer of Aiken Electric Cooperative, noted that the project is supported by people who are paying a premium for renewable energy. “Sales of Santee Cooper-generated Green Power, supported by the electric cooperatives, are used to enhance and expand renewable programs in South Carolina. Aiken Electric Cooperative is pleased that our member-owners recognize not only the value of sustainable energy, but also the unique position of the Aiken area to develop potential new industries.”

The Economic Development Partnership works with Aiken County on the development of new technology at the research campus. John Troutman, chairman of the Partnership, said, “This is one more step in capitalizing on the technology in our community.  As Aiken County, the Savannah River National Laboratory, and the Center move forward in the commercialization of new technology, solar power and its potential contribution to solving our energy crisis plays an important role. It adds one more brick to the foundation for creating jobs based on our resident technology.”& #160;

Santee Cooper is South Carolina's state-owned electric and water utility and the state's largest power producer, supplying electricity to more than 163,000 retail customers in Berkeley, Georgetown and Horry counties, as well as to 29 large industrial facilities, the cities of Bamberg and Georgetown, and the Charleston Air Force Base. Santee Cooper also generates the power distributed by the state's 20 electric cooperatives to more than 700,000 customers in all 46 counties. Approximately 2 million South Carolinians receive their power directly or indirectly from Santee Cooper. The utility also provides water to 137,000 consumers in Berkeley and Dorchester counties, and the town of Santee.

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For information on how Santee Cooper lives green and how you can go green, visit

November 17, 2008
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SC company partnering to make hydrogen generators

A Spartanburg machinery maker will partner with a Massachusetts hydrogen fuel cell firm to build generators used to power forklifts, state officials announced today.

The six-foot-by-12-foot generators convert natural gas into hydrogen and will be installed at warehouses and distribution centers to be used with hydrogen fuel cell-powered forklifts.

Spartanburg-based Kusters Zima Küsters Zima -- which makes custom machinery for the flooring, textile, wastewater and food industries -- is partnering with Nuvera Fuel Cells of Billerica, Mass., which works commercialize hydrogen fuel cell power for industrial vehicles and equipment.

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