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Secretary Chu Reevaluates Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology

COLUMBIA, SC –- U.S. Secretary of Energy, Dr. Steven Chu, announced that he has a much more positive outlook on hydrogen and fuel cell technologies than when he was first appointed in 2009. Early in his appointment, Dr. Chu requested significant hydrogen research cutbacks from the Department of Energy’s budget.


In a June 22 interview published by the automotive news program, AutoLine Daily, Dr.Chu specifically cited two points that influenced this change of mind.


“The most important thing that changed my mind was the fact that we have now natural gas in abundance. Hydrogen is reformed from natural gas. That’s point number one.”


Dr. Chu then explained his second point, which focuses on a trigeneration concept. Trigeneration is a unique benefit to fuel cells that produces pure hydrogen, pure carbon dioxide; and increases fuel efficiency by harnessing the electricity and heat produced. Other current energy technologies primarily cannot utilize the heat energy. He explained that the technology allows for natural gas to burn in “a little starved” partial oxygen atmosphere which results in a pure stream of hydrogen, a pure stream of carbon dioxide and subsequently produces energy. “That will change things. The pure stream most,” Dr. Chu stated.

This turnaround started when Dr. Chu visited the University of South Carolina last August. Accompanied by U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, Chu met with University of South Carolina President Dr. Harris Pastides, Executive Director of the South Carolina Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Alliance, Dr. Shannon Baxter-Clemmons, local entrepreneurs, and USC researchers.

The meeting was an opportunity to give Chu an overview of the South Carolina hydrogen and fuel cell economic cluster that includes fuel cell and energy research at USC. The visit also highlighted the state’s leading role in promoting the hydrogen economy and future fuel sources nationally and globally.


South Carolina has been named a “Top 5 Fuel Cell State” for the past two years in Fuel Cell 2000’s “State of the States: Fuel Cells in America” report. South Carolina is well positioned to accept the continued growth of the hydrogen and fuel cell industry. South Carolina is home to two hydrogen fueling stations located in Columbia and Graniteville.


Many major automotive companies such as Daimler, Toyota, Honda, General Motors, Hyundai and Nissan are slated to begin mass commercialization of their fuel cell vehicles by 2015. Other major corporations such as Apple and CBS Studios also use fuel cell technology in order to combat today’s energy challenges.


To view the full “State of the States: Fuel Cells in America” report, please go to http://www.fuelcells.org/statereport.html.

For more information, contact Emily Nicholls at nicholls@schydrogen.org.
About the South Carolina Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Alliance (SCHFCA)

The South Carolina Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Alliance is a non-profit public-private partnership of academic, government and business coordinating resources in South Carolina to advance the commercialization of hydrogen and fuel cells. For more information about the SCHFCA, please visit http://schydrogen.org/
July 6, 2012 - 8:04 AM