Non Profit Profile: Hydrogen Energy Center

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Hydrogen Energy CenterFounded in the 1990's, The Hydrogen Energy Center (HEC) is a non-profit organization run by visionary volunteers who are acting on their commitment to a better energy future. The HEC is approaching its tenth year as a permanent 501 (c)(3) organization.

Over the past decade, the HEC brought nearly $450,000 to the cause of replacing fossil fuels with green hydrogen through the Maine Technology Institute, the US Small Business Administration and the US Department of Energy.

The HEC has divided the scope of its work to promote development of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies into four categories:

1. Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Applications for Transportation

Major automobile manufacturers are committed to commercial production of fuel cell cars within the next 1 to 5 years. In Europe, Japan, South Korea and California the hydrogen fueling infrastructure is growing steadily.

Compelling value propositions for fuel-cell-powered warehouse lift trucks are so widely recognized that thousands of these fuel cell vehicles have been deployed, and fuel-supply/production equipment is being installed to serve them.

Fuel cell vehicles are real and are on the road and in the warehouses. Rapid changes are happening in technologies for both vehicles and fueling.

2. Hydrogen as a Storage Medium for Intermittent Energy Sources

With the rapid increase in power production from solar and wind sources, grid-scale and localized energy storage has become one of the hottest energy technology issues.

Balancing of energy demand/supply loads and power frequency control becomes a significant issue when intermittent energy supply sources such as wind and solar become a major part of the grid energy mix – 15 to 20 percent of delivered power over an extended time.

With sustainably-sourced energy being a strong policy focus in Europe, hydrogen-based energy storage technologies are being tested more aggressively there and the storage market is rising fast in North America, as well.

3. Hydrogen Fuel Cells for Combined Heat and Power

Fuel cell-based systems are commercially available and rather widely used for single-system production of heat, electric power, cooling and hydrogen fuel production.

Known generically as CHP (combined heat and power) systems, this fuel cell equipment produces far more than just heat and power.

Variations of these fuel cell systems are deployed for very clean, quiet and reliable power applications ranging from urban commercial and industrial deployments to remote, off-grid power supply solutions.

Home-scale combined heat and power fuel cell systems are being fine-tuned for high-volume markets.

4. Hydrogen Applications in the Pulp and Paper Industry

Work is advancing very successfully to produce valuable industrial chemicals and wood-derived fuels such as butane, jet fuel, diesel fuel and heating oil from the biomass flow through Maine's P&P industry.

Some of the most valuable substances from this process require direct input of hydrogen as a chemical feedstock in addition to heat and electrical energy associated with fuel cell and hydrogen production technology.

Some of these technologies are being developed in Maine; their success can be important to the continued viability of large pulp production plants in Maine and North America.

The HEC's Current Projects:

NEESC

The Northeast Electrochemical Energy Storage Cluster is a project of the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology. The Hydrogen Energy Center is involved in this SBA-funded project to research hydrogen energy and fuel cell industry development for Maine, the rest of New England and New York. Part of the project will be to create a roadmap for hydrogen development in Maine.

Clean Cities

The HEC is working with Greater Portland Council of Governments (GPCOG) on a Clean Cities Project to proposing laws, rules, regulations, codes and ordinances that will promote clean fuel filling and charging station development on a regional basis.

Membership fees help to fund HEC's operations. The knowledge and energy of HEC members fuel everything it does.

The HEC welcomes greater volunteer involvement to expand outreach and understanding of the benefits of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. The board of the HEC holds monthly meetings in Portland, Maine; the public is welcome to attend.

Full disclosure: The publisher of Green Energy Maine is also the president of the board of the Hydrogen Energy Center.

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