On Monday, the state Controlling Board approved $297,056 in state funding to help develop and promote local advanced manufacturing projects in fuel cell technology.
The announcement was lauded by many who see the more environmentally safe energy source as transformative for the future, not to mention what it can do to the state’s manufacturing base.
Pat Valente, executive director of the Ohio Fuel Cell Coalition, said those outside the industry don’t realize how Ohio is carving out a niche.
“Ohio could be or, I would say, is the premier source for providing fuel cell components to manufacturers around the country and world,” Valente said. “It will only continue to grow because countries like China, Russia and Brazil are clamoring to be more like the U.S. and will continue to grow. They are using more energy, buying more automobiles and producing more pollution. Fuel cell technology can address some of those factors.”
A fuel cell is just like a battery, But, as long as it has some sort of energy source — hydrogen or natural gas — it will continue to run faster and more efficiently. There are fuel cell vehicles that run on hydrogen, and the technology has long been used by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to advance space missions going back to the Apollo era and earlier.
“Over the last few years, it has evolved into the marketplace and is currently used in automobiles, forklifts and even hydrogen-powered generators,” Valente said.
State Rep. Matt Lundy, D-Elyria, and Sen. Gayle Manning, R-North Ridgeville, both said the funding will help bring jobs related to the technology to Ohio. An increase in fuel cell manufacturing jobs is expected as the fuel cell industry grows.
“Strengthening Ohio’s fuel cell industry will allow Ohio to generate power more efficiently and responsibly without polluting the environment,” Lundy said. “I strongly support this initiative, as it will bring new jobs to our community and make Ohio a more eco-friendly place to reside.”
The Ohio Fuel Cell Coalition is at Lorain County Community College in Elyria as well as the Dublin Entrepreneurial Center in Dublin.
State funding for this project has been provided by the Edison Advanced Manufacturing Program, a competitive grant program that supports the adoption of existing advanced manufacturing technologies to Ohio manufacturers, specifically smaller firms, nonprofits and Ohio universities.
The Ohio Fuel Cell Coalition will provide $335,154 to match state funds.
“Northeast Ohio’s established manufacturing infrastructure and skilled workforce creates a unique atmosphere for developing advanced manufacturing technologies such as fuel cell technology,” said Manning. “This grant will support the Ohio Fuel Cell Coalition as it works to further develop these technologies and the regional supply chain.”
The Ohio Fuel Cell Coalition is slated to hold a two-day symposium at LCCC on June 10 and 11 in the Spitzer Conference Center.