Energy & Environmental Research Center Designated the National Center for Hydrogen Technology
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By Derek A. Walters
EERC Communications Manager

In November 2004, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) designated the Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC), Grand Forks, ND, as the National Center for Hydrogen Technology (NCHT) in recognition of over 50 years of hydrogen research from fossil and renewable energy. The EERC is a research, development, demonstration, and commercialization facility recognized as one of the world's leading developers of cleaner, more efficient energy and environmental technologies to protect and clean our environment. The EERC is an entrepreneurial high-tech, nonprofit branch of the University of North Dakota, which operates like a business.

"With more than 850 clients in 47 countries and 50 states, the EERC requires all federal dollars be leveraged with private sector funding," says EERC Director Dr. Gerald Groenewold. "The EERC's hydrogen fuel cell programs reflect that philosophy-all federal support is leveraged by private sector cash contributions."

U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan has secured initial funding through DOE, which is leveraged by numerous corporate partners including Air Products and Chemicals, Chippewa Valley Ethanol, Basin Electric Power Cooperative, Hydrogenics Corporation, IdaTech, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, SGL Carbon, Schunk-INEX, Siemens Energy Systems, and Xcel Energy.

A major effort led by the EERC and partners ePower Synargies, Inc. and Resurfice Corporation, includes the development of a fuel cell-powered ice refinisher, called the eP-Ice Bear, which will potentially be used at future winter Olympics. An electric Olympia ice refinisher will be converted into a fuel-cell hybrid, a rink-scale hydrogen generator will be developed, and a storage and dispensing system created.

"This project will showcase worldwide an off-road application of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles," says Tom Erickson, EERC Associate Director for Research. "The eP-Ice Bear will also be featured during an Energy Action Summit, organized by Senator Dorgan, on November 7 at the EERC."

In partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense, ePower, Ballard, and the U.S. Air Force, the EERC is also evaluating opportunities for military applications of the EERC's hydrogen-on-demand fueling system.

The EERC is planning to build a 15,000-square-foot facility to house the rapidly expanding programs of the NCHT. This new facility will allow for significant growth in a wide range of programs; create 50 new, highly technical, high-paying jobs; and is expected to attract over $50 million in contracts in the short-term. Ground is expected to be broken in early 2006, with completion in Fall 2006.

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