KEMET to Expand Greenville County Operations and Create 113 New Jobs
Conversations: Shannon Baxter-Clemmons, Executive Director of the South Carolina Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Alliance
The Hydrogen Car fights back
GM, Toyota Fuel-Cell Plans Clash With U.S. Battery Car Push
Winery Generating Renewable Hydrogen
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House powered by solar-hydrogen
KEMET to Expand Greenville County Operations and Create 113 New Jobs
Investment brings new product line to support electric vehicles and alternative energy markets
COLUMBIA, S.C. – October 26, 2009 – Gov. Mark Sanford, the South Carolina Department of Commerce and the Greenville Area Development Corporation today announced that KEMET will expand its facility in Greenville County to support manufacturing of capacitors for electric drive vehicles and alternative energy markets. The investment is expected to generate 113 new jobs within the next three years.
“We are pleased to expand our operations in South Carolina. This investment will allow us to meet growing demand from our customers in the U.S., especially in the electric drive vehicle industry. Our Simpsonville facility has been an important part of our production capabilities over the years and South Carolina has always provided KEMET with an excellent business environment and a highly-skilled workforce. We appreciate the support we have received from state and local officials, and South Carolina’s congressional delegation who helped make this expansion a reality,” said Per-Olof Loof, chief executive officer and director, KEMET.
KEMET will expand its facility in Simpsonville to manufacture a new line of capacitors, which are an important component in electric drive vehicles and will be marketed to the alternative energy industry. KEMET recently received a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to add additional capacitor lines to its South Carolina plant in order to produce enough capacitors to make 100,000 electric drive vehicles. The company anticipates that the expansion will be completed and the new production capacity online within nine months.
“This new production line in Greenville County represents another dividend from our continued efforts to improve business soil conditions in South Carolina. Given the global competition for new jobs, capital investment and indeed quality of life, both KEMET's technological advances in components for electric drive vehicles and alternative energy production and their decision to expand in South Carolina reflect positively on our state’s workforce, the Department of Commerce, local leaders, and in fact all of our commitments to creating a more business-friendly environment that will encourage further economic growth and job-creation going forward,” said Gov. Mark Sanford.
“KEMET’s expansion of its Simpsonville facility is an affirmation of the company’s commitment to South Carolina. KEMET could have taken this new line anywhere in the world and the fact that they chose to grow here is again a reminder that our state’s business-friendly climate, skilled workforce and exceptional market access are working to attract new investment and new jobs for South Carolinians. We congratulate KEMET on their success and look forward to a continued and mutually beneficial relationship with them in the years ahead,” said Joe Taylor, Secretary of Commerce.
KEMET is currently producing the capacitor lines in Europe. However, having the lines produced in South Carolina will allow the company to easily reach their domestic customers. The expansion will also increase the available capacity in the U.S. for capacitors and therein reduce the supply chain risk electric drive vehicle manufacturers face by having to depend on non-U.S. suppliers for this key subcomponent.
“Today is an exciting day for the people of Greenville County. KEMET’s expansion will create much needed jobs for our skilled workforce. Today’s announcement also once again shows the potential South Carolina has to lead in the new clean energy environment. I am very proud of the work KEMET is doing in South Carolina and look forward to growing this relationship in the years ahead,” said U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham.
“KEMET is another proof that the Upstate will lead the nation out of this recession. New energy jobs prove that the road to recovery and the road to energy independence are one and the same,” said Congressman Bob Inglis.
In addition to being able to supply capacitors for the current and future electric drive vehicle programs in the U.S., KEMET’s expansion in Greenville County will also allow the company to begin supplying the same components to wind, tidal, geothermal and solar energy generation markets.
“As an international company and long-standing member of our business community, KEMET’s decision to expand its Greenville County presence to make capacitors for electric vehicles and alternative energy markets is great news,” noted H.G. “Butch” Kirven Jr., chairman of Greenville County Council. “Their expansion here affirms that our focus on advanced manufacturing and automotive suppliers is bearing fruit, and should serve as a magnet to attract talented individuals while adding good paying jobs in our community.”
“KEMET is a progressive company that combines world-class technology and unique engineering processes with an Upstate location to grow their business,” said Mike Buiter, chairman of the Greenville Area Development Corporation Board. “The company is research-based, innovative and growth-oriented, and a wonderful reflection of the opportunities to be found in Greenville County.”
The company will make a formal announcement when it is ready to begin the hiring process. Individuals interested in employment opportunities are encouraged wait until KEMET releases details regarding the availability of new positions.
KEMET Corporation applies world-class service and quality to deliver industry-leading, high-performance capacitance solutions to its customers around the world. KEMET offers the world’s most complete line of surface-mount and through-hole capacitor technologies across tantalum, ceramic, film, aluminum and paper dielectrics. KEMET has operated its facility in the Upstate of South Carolina for 46 years. For more information about KEMET, please visit www.kemet.com.
Conversations: Shannon Baxter-Clemmons, Executive Director of the South Carolina Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Alliance
What is your education?
I received my Bachelors, Masters, and PhD at the University of South Carolina. I completed my dissertation research Argonne National Laboratory just outside of Chicago where I focused on direct, methanol fuel cells.
How is hydrogen produced?
Hydrogen can be produced from a number of local resources. Electrolysis of water is the simplest process that splits water into its two main elements – hydrogen and oxygen. The electrolysis process can be used by any number of energy sources from fossil fuels to renewables. When renewables and hydrogen fuel cells are used together, the process is called "firming" the renewable. With renewables, sometimes you have more than you need and at other times the wind doesn't blow or the sun doesn't shine. We can use the excess renewable resources to make and store hydrogen, through electrolysis. And when we don't have enough sun or wind, we can get our electricity from a fuel cell running on the stored hydrogen. Solar provides your energy needs during the day; hydrogen kicks in at night when the sun goes down. Natural gas, a fossil fuel, currently accounts for 48% of hydrogen production, but if we are going to move to a zero carbon future, it is preferable to produce hydrogen from renewable, local sources: solar, nuclear, and even biomass.
What is a hydrogen fuel cell? What are its advantages?
If you put flow hydrogen on one side of a fuel cell, and oxygen on the other, then a flow of electrons and protons is created and you have electricity. The byproduct of this process is water and a little bit of heat - a clean energy with no moving parts. As such, hydrogen has the potential to help us reduce greenhouse gas and carbon emissions.
How does South Carolina measure up compared to other states in terms of expertise in this area?
With over 80 PhDs at Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) in Aiken working in hydrogen storage and production, South Carolina already has an international reputation in hydrogen and fuel cells. SRNL has been using hydrogen in defense applications for over 50 years and is now focusing its efforts in the production and storage of hydrogen. There is no other facility like this in the country.
Our technical colleges and research universities are also gaining national attention for their collaborative efforts to align the educational system around this industry.
We are also growing the industry in the state. Currently we have companies working on fuel cells, membrane technologies, capacitors, catalysts, back-up power systems and hydrogen production appliances. The numbers of jobs and interest in the state is growing as is our reputation.
South Carolina is well positioned to capitalize on the assets we have here at home and be a major contributor in the global economy.
Is this a statewide or a Midlands opportunity?
Columbia and Aiken are currently the areas in the state with the most activity but there is enormous potential for businesses and communities across the entire state. In the Upstate, BMW has developed internal combustion cars that run on both liquid hydrogen and gasoline. In the Lowcountry, clean fuel technologies offer a great opportunity for both the Port of Charleston and also for the inland port that is planned in Orangeburg.
Are there any downsides to hydrogen as a fuel?
The biggest challenge to using hydrogen is the infrastructure. Currently we have an infrastructure that serves us fairly well—gasoline. It's hard to compete with it. However, we are not in control of the majority of resources that our present infrastructure is reliant on. The hydrogen infrastructure is challenging but not insurmountable.
What is the difference between hydrogen and a traditional battery as we know it? Is a battery a fuel cell?
A battery is not a fuel cell but they both produce electricity form electrochemical reactions (neither uses the exploding or combusting of materials to create energy). But with a self-contained battery, you eventually reach a point when it is completely consumed and you either have to recharge it or throw it away. With a fuel cell, as long as you continue to supply hydrogen and oxygen, you can have electricity. Fuel cells also offer better power quality; you do not experience the drag that is commonly associated with the end of a battery's life.
What practical commercial applications currently use hydrogen?
Hydrogen is essential in our day-to-day lives and is already an enormous industry in this country. We currently produce over 13M tons of hydrogen each year for a wide variety of applications from the de-sulfurization of oil as it is refined into gasoline to the production of fertilizer. Hydrogen played a role in helping to reduce our sulfur emissions and solve the acid rain problem.
Current applications of fuel cells range from use in light-duty, off–road applications such as forklifts to urban busses and fleet vehicles. Fuel cells are used as a more reliable source of portable, mobile power for the military. In the Upstate, we are working with Dantherm Power, a Danish company with US headquarters in Spartanburg that is an international first mover in the use of hydrogen fuel cells instead of diesel power in providing backup power for cell phone towers.
Hydrogen has the potential to deliver many of our energy needs: industrial, commercial, residential, electric power and transportation.
What is the mission of the SC Hydrogen and Fuel Cell alliance?
A key role we play is in educating local and state business leaders about the incredible potential hydrogen and fuel cells hold for South Carolina. We look to build a strong economic cluster based around strategic energy solutions that use hydrogen and hydrogen fuel cells. Our goal is to make this state a compelling location to grow a business organically or to locate a business. We want people to come here because we have assets that can't be duplicated anywhere in the world.
A key recent development has been the tabling of the 2009 Hydrogen Permitting Act which passed the SC House with over 100 sponsors. If this Bill passes the Senate when the SC Legislature convenes in 2010, we will be the first state in the country to permit hydrogen and fuel cell facilities at the state level using current, internationally recognized standards. This will be a great signal to industry looking to locate here in the state.
What are the main obstacles that you will have to overcome for hydrogen to come more to the forefront of the future fuels solution?
The first obstacle is overcoming our complacency. We need to stand up and decide once and for all that we have had enough of outside geopolitical forces determining the economic fate of our country. We need to decide that we've sent enough money to OPEC and Hugo Chavez. We need to make energy independence a priority.
The second challenge is the limitations of the existing infrastructure and distribution channels. People fill their cars up with gasoline because there is a gas station on every corner. Hydrogen is just not there yet in terms of ease of use.
The challenges currently facing fuel cells are durability and cost. As the number of orders has been increasing around the globe, cost per unit has started to decline significantly because of volume pricing and technological advances. Toyota recently made an interesting statement that they believe the fuel cell vehicles introduced in 2015 will be priced "shockingly low." I am continually encouraged by what industry is telling us.
Hydrogen seems to have fallen out of favor at the national level. Will hydrogen be the winner when it comes to future fuels?
I wouldn't say that it has fallen out of favor as much as the federal government is looking for solutions that will most quickly reduce our country's dependence on foreign oil Our future energy needs will most likely involve a range of renewable and non-renewable resources; it's hard to predict winners. An evolution will most likely occur from our current generation of hybrids, to plug in hybrids with bigger batteries, to natural gas vehicles, and eventually to hydrogen. I believe that all pathways will lead to hydrogen fuel cells as a major source for all of our energy needs, including transportation.
We should accelerate that process and invest right now in a transitional infrastructure that will enable this long-term shift to hydrogen as our main energy source. In the short-term, we will shift to compressed natural gas (CNG). Why not factor in the long-term capacity issue of a shift to hydrogen compressed natural gas (HCNG)?
We are entering into a period between 2010 and 2040 where geologists have predicted that we will reach peak oil. We can't put all of our eggs in one basket when it comes to energy strategy, but being 100% invested in oil just does not make sense for this country. We need to diversify now.
The history of energy sources has been a steady movement away from carbon-based fuels: wood, coal, oil, natural gas. The ultimate goal is a zero carbon future and the way to achieve that is through zero-emission electricity delivered by nuclear power and renewables, including hydrogen. An intermediate role might be for reduced carbon emission by 2030; our goal for 2050 should be zero emissions.
What is the biggest challenge that your organization faces in this down economy?
In a down economy our biggest challenge is financial and we have had our government funding cut to zero. We received seed funding from SCRA and our members pay dues, but we have had to look for other revenue streams. Growing our membership, or competing for more projects where we can provide service are other ways we can increase our funding.
In 5 and 10 years, what do you hope to achieve? What accomplishment would make you most proud?
If in 5 years hydrogen is still growing as a cluster and supporting graduates from USC, Claflin, Clemson, SC Sate, Midlands Tech, and Aiken Tech, I will be happy. If in 10 years, hydrogen has become an established industry with widespread applications in our homes and cars, I will feel like my time was well spent.
The United States has 5% of the world's population, but consumes 25% of the world's energy. That model is just not sustainable. Energy will be THE defining issue for our country in the 21st century. With our current energy model, economists believe that will are set up for the biggest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind.
It is not necessarily important for South Carolinians to understand the chemistry behind hydrogen. The important question is: What does this technology mean for our society, and more specifically, for South Carolina? Economic prosperity, energy security and protection of our health and environment.
The Hydrogen Car fights backPresident Obama is betting on biofuels and batteries, but that isn't stopping some automakers from investing in hydrogen-fueled cars.
(Fortune Magazine) -- The "Valley of Death," in auto-industry-speak, is a metaphorical desert where emerging technologies reside while car executives figure out which of the experiments ought to make their way into actual cars.
Every automotive leap forward has done time in the valley: turbochargers, fuel injectors, even gasoline-electric hybrids like Toyota's Prius. Hydrogen-fueled vehicles, the alternative-energy flavor of the month back in 2003, are the ones languishing today, along with hovercraft and other assorted concept cars.
But perhaps not for much longer. A number of auto manufacturers are renewing their push for hydrogen, and now it is looking as though hydrogen cars will make it out of vehicular Death Valley.
Last month Daimler (DAI), the German government, and several industrial companies announced a plan to build 1,000 hydrogen-fueling stations across Germany. Days later, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche showed off Mercedes-Benz's latest hydrogen-fueled effort, the F-Cell hatchback. Toyota (TM) this summer announced it would put hydrogen fuel-cell cars into production in 2015.
Honda (HMC), GM, and Hyundai all have hydrogen fuel-cell programs running, and Honda actually has put vehicles -- heavily subsidized by the car maker, to be sure -- in the hands of some real customers, as opposed to its own engineers. (GM today is focusing most of its, um, energy on the plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt, but the company says it still expects to have its fuel-cell technology ready for commercialization in 2015.)
"The automakers are making huge progress," says Joan Ogden, director of the Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways Program at the University of California at Davis. "The popular notion that hydrogen is 20 years away -- and always will be -- is totally off-base."
BEST IN SHOWActually, hydrogen cars don't have a perception problem -- most people simply don't think about them at all.
It doesn't help hydrogen's cause that President Obama tried to cut funding (which Congress largely restored) for hydrogen auto research, a pet project of the previous administration. Obama's team favors battery-powered models. So do officials in other countries, environmentalists, technology pundits, and a few prominent auto manufacturers -- most notably Nissan and Ford (F, Fortune 500). And hybrids are already widely available, so consumers can judge the technology for themselves.
But hydrogen cars are about to get a bit more visible. Honda, probably hydrogen's biggest proponent, is leasing its hydrogen-powered model, the Clarity, to nine drivers in Southern California. Honda plans to make 200 Claritys available in Japan and the U.S. in the next two years.
The Clarity shows some of the improvements in hydrogen technology: It has a range of 240 miles, up from 190 miles on the 2002 model, and boasts a microwave oven-size fuel cell (that's where hydrogen combines with oxygen to produce electricity that then drives the car's motor). In the early days fuel cells were the size of filing cabinets, not exactly practical for tooling around town.
GM, Hyundai, and BMW are focused on testing hydrogen in Southern California, and soon Mercedes will be too. That is partly because many of the automakers have their R&D and design centers in the Los Angeles area, where four easily accessible hydrogen filling stations are already strategically placed close to key residential and commercial centers.
The U.S. has 64 hydrogen stations, which are owned and operated by energy companies, universities, local governments, transit agencies, and utility companies. Another 38 are well into the planning and development phase.
Actress Jamie Lee Curtis lobbied to get one of the first available models for environmental reasons, but she has become a fan of driving the Clarity. "I am not the most light-footed driver, and this thing is like a rocket ship," says Curtis, who leases the car for $600 a month. When asked what she will do when her three-year lease expires, Curtis pauses a moment. "Cry," she says. "Sob uncontrollably, and beg them to extend the lease."
Her husband, actor and film director Christopher Guest ("Best in Show"), is equally enamored, if less dramatic.
"This is the best car I have ever had in terms of environmental benefits and range," says Guest, who drove a Prius until the Clarity was delivered. "I have thought about what would replace it, and there is nothing on the market that would remotely compare."
Despite Curtis's and Guest's endorsements (they are not paid by Honda, but the automaker subsidizes the cost of the vehicle, estimated at $300,000, as it does for every driver), hydrogen-fueled cars still face considerable hurdles to mainstream acceptance.
One major issue will be figuring out how to produce hydrogen in a clean enough way that it doesn't offset the environmental benefits of driving a car whose only tailpipe emission is water.
While you can produce hydrogen via electrolysis from any source of electricity, including renewable-energy sources like solar and wind, it's most often extracted from natural gas combined with steam, which forms hydrogen and carbon monoxide. The carbon monoxide is then separated from the hydrogen.
Hydrogen naysayers will immediately remind you that natural gas is yet another habit-forming fossil fuel. (The "reformation" of fossil fuels produces greenhouse gases.)
Proponents of hydrogen vehicles point out that hydrogen fuel cells are twice as efficient as gasoline engines, and even hydrogen produced by natural gas translates to 10% to 40% fewer emissions than gas-hybrid cars, according to studies from MIT and the Argonne National Lab. "The societal benefits of a fuel-cell fleet would be better than a plug-in hybrid and about equal with all-battery electric," says UC Davis's Ogden.
An even bigger problem for hydrogen: lack of infrastructure. To get more hydrogen filling stations installed, car makers will need financial support from corporate partners and local and national governments. Eight of the world's major automakers -- including Renault, Nissan, and Ford, which have scrapped fuel cells in favor of battery-electric options -- recently called on fuel companies and regulators to expedite the rollout of hydrogen filling stations globally.
None of this will be cheap: A study commissioned by the National Academy of Science concluded that the U.S. would need to spend $3 billion to $4 billion a year for 15 years to subsidize the cost of the cars and get a national infrastructure in place to make the transition to hydrogen. Not a pittance, but to put that number in perspective, corn-based ethanol receives about the same amount in annual subsidies.
Despite the challenges hydrogen cars face, car executives maintain that they will be part of the mix of technologies shuttling us around in the future, along with gasoline-hybrid and battery-electric models. "It's not a choice of one or the other from a technology perspective," says Charlie Freese, a GM executive who heads up that company's fuel-cell efforts.
"Meeting our transportation needs and environmental goals is going to require a variety of solutions." For hydrogen cars, that kind of thinking sounds like a path out of the valley of death and onto the open road.
GM, Toyota Fuel-Cell Plans Clash With U.S. Battery Car Push
(Bloomberg) -- General Motors Co., Toyota Motor Corp. and other automakers want to sell consumers electric cars powered by hydrogen within six years. Their plans clash with the U.S. government’s infrastructure priorities.
GM, Toyota, Honda Motor Co. and Daimler AG say durability improvements and cost reductions may enable them to sell the zero-emission vehicles by 2015. Costs to make the fuel-cell cars have fallen from $1 million each a few years ago, and automakers are working to meet a proposed goal of slashing the premium for the cars to $3,600 more than a midsized gasoline model.
As the federal government, utilities, cities and states plan charging infrastructure for battery cars, hydrogen fueling stations are also needed, automakers say. While Germany and Japan are moving to build large-scale fueling networks, the U.S. lacks a national infrastructure program and the Energy Department has sought to cut hydrogen-related project funding.
“The advances that have been made by the automobile manufacturers are remarkable,” said Scott Samuelsen, director of the National Fuel Cell Research Center at the University of California, Irvine. “Infrastructure is the Achilles’ heel.”
The fuel cell center opened in 1998 and is funded mainly by the U.S. government and California Energy Commission. It has also received grants from Toyota and Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s hydrogen unit, said Kathy Haq, a spokeswoman for the center.
Toyota rose 0.6 percent to close at 3,520 yen in Tokyo trading. The shares have gained 21 percent this year.
The U.S. has provided more than $10 billion in low-cost loans and grants this year for production of electric cars, batteries and charging infrastructure, as the Obama administration pushes automakers to improve fuel economy and cut oil imports. By contrast, hydrogen funding was initially gutted.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu in May recommended a 60 percent budget cut for hydrogen projects to $68.2 million, saying batteries and bio-fuels are a better near-term option. Congress restored funding to $190 million.
“Secretary Chu will continue to work with Congress to shape a budget that will help us achieve the most efficient vehicles and will help save money for consumers,” said Stephanie Mueller, an Energy Department spokeswoman.
Hydrogen “is taking longer because fuel cells themselves are still very expensive and getting ‘green’ hydrogen -- made from wind or solar, rather than natural gas -- is still not so easy,” said Daniel Kammen, director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley.
“It might look right now that EVs and plug-ins are winning the race, certainly in terms of federal funding, but that’s because they’re a bit more near term,” Kammen said.
Hydrogen cars, touted for a decade as an eventual replacement for gasoline models, offer better range and faster fueling than battery models. Fuel cells, made up of layers of plastic film coated with platinum sandwiched between metal plates, make electricity in a chemical process combining hydrogen and oxygen, with water vapor as the only exhaust.
“The fuel-cell vehicle has been called the ‘million-dollar car,’ and when they first came out, they were a million bucks,” Irv Miller, a group vice president for Toyota’s U.S. sales unit, said Oct. 2 in Los Angeles.
Toyota, Honda, Daimler and Hyundai Motor Co. said at a Sept. 21 briefing in Sacramento, California, they were working to meet a proposed target of a $3,600 cost premium for the cars. To do that will require mass-production and continued cuts in fuel- cell stack and hydrogen tank costs, the companies said.
GM has spent $1.5 billion on fuel-cell research, Charles Freese, executive director of GM’s fuel-cell program, said in an interview. The company is discussing partnerships to commercialize the technology, he said, without providing details.
Detroit-based GM showed a fuel-cell system on Sept. 24 that is 220 pounds lighter than one it replaces, uses less than half as much platinum and may be durable enough for a decade of use.
“We’ve gone from 80 grams of platinum per stack to less than 30 grams,” Freese said. The reduction, smaller size and other refinements mean “substantial” cost reductions, he said, without elaborating. Platinum cost $1,334 an ounce as of Oct. 8.
GM, Toyota, Honda, Daimler, Hyundai, Kia Motors Corp., Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co. released a statement Sept. 9 saying they shared a goal to create a fuel-cell vehicle market within six years.
Government support for the goal is stronger in Germany and Japan than in the U.S., according to GM’s Freese and Samuelsen of the fuel cell center. Germany plans 1,000 hydrogen stations by 2015, and Japan has a similar goal.
The German government is working with utilities and Linde AG, the world’s second-biggest maker of industrial gases, to set up a station network, Bharat Balasubramanian, Daimler’s vice president for product innovations, said in Los Angeles.
“We have a road map to address these challenges of infrastructure by 2015,” Balasubramanian said.
In California, where most fuel-cell vehicles in the U.S. are tested and even owned by some customers, compressed hydrogen gas is dispensed at pumps similar to those for gasoline. The fuel comes either from a process that breaks down natural gas using steam, or from solar power and water.
While the state requires large automakers to sell “zero- emission” vehicles, it’s added hydrogen stations at a slower pace than planned, said Catherine Dunwoody, executive director of the California Fuel Cell Partnership. California currently lists 23 stations in operation.
“Germany has come out with a very strong program to develop infrastructure; we don’t have anything like on the federal level,” Dunwoody said.
Just 32 public hydrogen pumps, installed mainly at existing gasoline stations in Southern California, would be sufficient to support an initial consumer market and cost as little as $32 million, Samuelsen said.
Shell, among the few oil companies adding U.S. hydrogen stations, will open two more in Southern California by next year, Phil Baxley, president of Shell Hydrogen, said in Los Angeles. Shell is also participating in Germany’s program.
The cost of installing a hydrogen pump at a Shell station ranges from $1 million to $5 million, depending on how much capacity is required, Baxley said.
“Daimler, Toyota, Honda, they have the advantage of partnerships with national governments that are forcing the creation of a fueling infrastructure,” GM’s Freese said. “If we don’t do the same thing in the U.S., we’re going to fall behind.”
Winery Generating Renewable Hydrogen
The first demonstration of a renewable method for hydrogen production from wastewater using a microbial electrolysis system is underway at the Napa Wine Co. in Oakville, Calif.
A refrigerator-sized hydrogen generator will take winery wastewater, and using bacteria and a small amount of electrical energy, convert the organic material into hydrogen, according to a Penn State environmental engineer.
"This is a demonstration to prove that we can continuously generate renewable hydrogen and to study the engineering factors affecting the system performance," says Bruce Logan. "The hydrogen produced will be vented except for a small amount that will be used in a hydrogen fuel cell."
Eventually, Napa Wine Company would like to use the hydrogen to run vehicles and power systems. The company's wastewater comes from cleaning equipment, grape disposal, wine making and other processes. The company already has on-site wastewater treatment and recycling and the partially treated water from the microbial electrolysis system will join other water for further treatment and use in irrigation.
"It's nice that Napa Wine offered their winery and facilities to test this new approach," says Logan. "We chose a winery because it's a natural tourist attraction. People go there all the time to experience wine making and wine, and now they can also see a demonstration of how to make clean hydrogen gas from agricultural wastes."
The demonstration microbial electrolysis plant is a continuous flow system that will process about 1,000 liters of wastewater a day. Microbial electrolysis cells consist of two electrodes immersed in liquid. Logan uses electrode pairs consisting of one carbon anode and one stainless steel cathode in his system rather than an electrode coated with a precious metal like platinum or gold. Replacing precious metals will keep down costs. The wastewater enters the cell where naturally occurring bacteria convert the organic material into electrical current. If the voltage produced by the bacteria is slightly increased, hydrogen gas is produced electrochemically on the stainless steel cathode.
The demonstration plant has 24 modules, with aach module containing six pairs of electrodes.
"The composition of the wastewater will change throughout the year," says Logan. "Now it's likely to be rather sugary, but later it may shift more toward the remnants of the fermentation process."
The bacteria that work in the electrolysis cells will consume either of these organic materials.
Source: The Pennsylvania State Univ.
Coca-Cola Consolidated to Install Hydrogen Fueled Forklifts
LATHAM, N.Y., Oct. 1, 2009 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The nation's second largest Coca-Cola bottler will install 40 hydrogen-powered forklifts at its Charlotte, North Carolina production center. Plug Power Inc. (Nasdaq:PLUG), a leader in providing clean, reliable energy solutions, announced today that it will provide its class-1 sit down counterbalanced GenDrive(TM) fuel cell solution to Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated early in 2010.
"With these fuel cell materials handling units, we will be able to maintain productivity, decrease operating costs and lower greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent," said Coca-Cola Consolidated spokesman Lauren C. Steele. "We assessed many different technologies for our materials handling fleet and believe the Plug Power fuel cell units give us the best overall solution."
In deciding to convert its material handling fleet from internal combustion to a cleaner technology, Coca-Cola Consolidated considered several options. One alternative, batteries, would allow the company to move to electric lift trucks, but consumed valuable facility space with battery charging equipment and infrastructure. With batteries also came operator downtime and decreased productivity as time is spent changing and charging the power source.
With Plug Power's GenDrive fuel cell, the soft drink manufacturer is able to maintain productivity, cut operating costs and lower greenhouse gas emissions significantly. Operators are able to run equipment at full speed for an entire shift, thus maximizing efficiency. Compact hydrogen fueling stations are conveniently located throughout the facility, allowing for easy refueling. Successful product demonstrations under rigorous conditions proved GenDrive as a commercially viable power alternative for Coca Cola Consolidated's high-throughput operations.
"Coca-Cola Consolidated's acceptance of Plug Power's GenDrive fuel cell solution again emphasizes the commercial readiness of this product for the material handing market," said Tom Hoying, Vice President of Sales for Plug Power Inc. "Plug Power was able to provide this significant customer with a proven solution allowing them to lower operating costs and greenhouse gas emissions without sacrificing productivity."
About Plug Power Inc.
Plug Power Inc. (Nasdaq:PLUG), an established leader in the development and deployment of clean, reliable energy solutions, integrates fuel cell technology into motive and continuous power products. The Company is actively engaged with private and public customers in targeted markets throughout the world. For more information about how to join Plug Power's energy revolution as an investor, customer, supplier or strategic partner, please visit www.plugpower.com.
House powered by solar-hydrogen
The elevated floor, tall ceilings, steeply pitched roof and broad overhangs are borrowed from the traditional "cracker house" that relied on shade and air movement for relief from Florida's sultry subtropical climate.
A pair of magnolia trees, dark red siding, ceiling fans, bamboo flooring and rustic wooden beams salvaged from a Georgia barn add to the inviting atmosphere of the little house in the middle of Florida State University's brick-and-mortar campus.
It may look like an out-of-place throwback, but the $575,000 Off-Grid, Zero Emissions Building -- OGZEB -- has a futuristic purpose. Its mission is to test potential solutions to the world's energy and climate change problems by combining old tricks with cutting-edge technology, including a unique solar-hydrogen experiment.
"What we're trying to do is create the building of tomorrow with a lot of the feel of today," said project manager Justin Kramer. "If nobody wanted to live in it, what's the point?"
Like a 19th century cracker house, there are no power lines.
Solar panels on the roof are one of the few hints the two-bedroom home is not a relic of the past. Solar panels have been popping up on rooftops around the country this year, in part because of an expanded federal subsidy that pays for 30 percent of the cost. States, including Florida, offer additional tax credits and incentives that further drive down the cost.
With Florida State's off-grid house, part of the electrical energy they produce is used to turn water into hydrogen for power when the sun isn't shining.
Dedicated in August, OGZEB has a couple small offices, but most of the interior, including an expansive living-dining-kitchen area, is strictly residential. Graduate students, staffers and VIPs will take turns living there to give old and emerging technologies alike a real world tryout.
"If it's not being lived in and used, we're not getting good data," Kramer said.
Similar experiments are being done elsewhere, but what sets Florida State's effort apart from most is the building's reliance on hydrogen for power at night and on cloudy or rainy days.