November 23, 2014


Fuel cell coalition gets nearly $300,000 from state

ELYRIA — Ohio is leading the way in fuel cell technology and Lorain County, home of the Ohio Fuel Cell Coalition, is at the forefront.

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.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or Follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.

  • Mark B

    If it was such a good bet , it would not need a subsidy . just another Solyndra and a way for Lundy to get his name in the paper again

  • Pablo Jones

    Hydrogen fuel cells are a joke. Not in the sense that they don’t work, they do. But in the sense that it takes much more energy to produce the hydrogen than you get from using the hydrogen.

    The natural gas fuel cells are the direction things need to go. The technology is there, but what isn’t there is the reliability and durability of the products. Next they need to work on storing the NG at normal pressures on vehicles so you don’t need a special high pressure pump. Once they get that you can tap into your natural gas line and fill up at home. The equivalent amount of NG to travel 400 miles per take would cost around $8 vs the $60 – $80 of gas or diesel.

    • Pablo Jones

      I went to their website. It looks like everything is about hydrogen, hydrogen distribution, and mass transit hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. All about having only water emissions.

      So nothing meaningful or useful will come out of it. Stop worrying about being green and make meaningful products that are actually useful.

  • Jennifer

    it does take energy to make hydrogen but fuel cells are 2-3 times more efficient than ICEs and other technologies so in the overall picture (well-to-wheels), hydrogen fuel cells win.

    natural gas fuel cell are great for stationary applications but for vehicles (cars, buses, forklifts), and in some cases, telecom backup, hydrogen fuel cells are the best option. Some installations are using solar or wind to generate the hydrogen onsite and others are using waste to produce anaerobic digester gas or methane which has hydrogen in it.

    A lot is happening with fuel cells – Walmart has 35 stores in California using them, Coca-Cola, Google, Apple, eBay, Kaiser Permanente, AT&T, Verizon, Sysco, so many companies are using them for primary power for data centers or backup power because they are extrememly reliable and don’t have to be connected to electric grid. Others are using them for material handling vehicles because they last longer than batteries and are faster to refuel. Some (Walmart, Coca-Cola) are using them for both.

    • Pablo Jones

      I realize fuel cells are more efficient than the combustion engine, that is why I see the potential there. If done correctly the industry could boom (figuratively).

      The problem is the focus on hydrogen fuel cells.
      1. No distribution network (results in the chicken or the egg problem)
      2. Car runs out of fuel, how do you refuel it?
      3. It takes more energy to produce hydrogen than we get from using it.
      4. Cost for hydrogen is about 6 times the cost of natural gas.
      5. The infrastructure to create the amount of hydrogen we would need doesn’t exist
      6. Hydrogen at room temp and at reasonable pressures has low energy density
      7. The cost to pressurize hydrogen or liquefy it uses an enormous amount of energy.

      Now lets look at Natural Gas, which is mostly methane, which contains hydrogen.
      1. Distribution network is in place for most of the country
      2. NG fuel cells can also run on propane. You run out of fuel connect your 20# propane tank and you are good to go.
      3. You don’t need to produce natural gas, it already exists
      4. They use natural gas to produce hydrogen, so it will always be cheaper
      5. We already have the ability to develop mass quantities of NG and to ramp it up if needed
      6. NG has a higher energy density than Hydrogen at the same temp and pressure
      7. Use of activated charcoal storage will mean NG won’t have to be significantly compressed.

      As I said the reliability and durability of NG fuel cells needs to be improved to handle vehicular travels and so that their efficiency doesn’t degrade too quickly. Size is another issue. But these are things that can be address within a few years if focus is placed on them.

      Here is why they are looking at hydrogen vs. NG. Hydrogen produced only water as it’s emission and NG produces some CO2. So NG isn’t as green and with the environmentalist it is either 100% green or it isn’t worth doing. Even though most hydrogen production produces large quantities of CO2, but they overlook that.

  • Tom

    Yes, please use natural gas for everything. Let’s keep fracking until our ground water is completely contaminated and earthquakes are rampant. Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe and the byproduct of using it is water… it’s a no-brainer.

    • Pablo Jones

      And the majority of hydrogen is produced from natural gas through steam reforming. If there is no fraking then there is no Hydrogen. Sure you can use electrolysis of water, but the energy required is extremely large, more than you can get from solar or wind. That leaves coal or natural gas. And you can use bio-mass but the production quantity is limited.

    • Pablo Jones

      How much ground water is contained by fraking or natural gas? Any percentages?

  • SniperFire

    300K is a pittance in the in the energy business. This is pretty much PR spending.

  • golfingirl

    How about putting the money toward the Keystone Pipeline?

    6 years later, and still no decision by Obama.

    Gas at $4.00 per gallon, $1.86 when Bush left office, but no one in the media even mentions it. Bush was chastised when it hit $2.00 per gallon.

    I for one, don’t want to be at the mercy of the weather to supply energy to heat my home, as in windmills and solar.