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Wednesday August 29, 2007

Ontario invests $3M in fuel cells and biomaterials

MISSISSAUGA, ON, August 29, 2007 (GLOBE-Net) – The Ontario government will invest $3 million in six new projects designed to bring innovations to market in the hydrogen fuel cell and biomaterials sectors.

The investment will help commercialize six new clean technology projects:

  • The Ontario Fuel Cell Innovation Program will provide $1.63 million to four hydrogen fuel cell projects.

  • The Innovation Demonstration Fund will invest $1.4 million on two projects focused on commercializing biomaterials with applications in the auto sector.

Support for fuel cells

The Ontario Fuel Cell Innovation Program (OFCIP) has been established with a goal of moving Ontario’s best scientific and technological ideas and discoveries from the lab to the marketplace by turning them into products and services that can be sold to the world. Fuelled by hydrogen and oxygen, fuel cells can produce electricity with water as the only emission.

The new projects supported by this initiative include three led by Hydrogenics Corporation, a Mississauga-based company that is commercializing hydrogen and fuel cell products.

In the first project, Hydrogenics will coordinate with NACCO Materials Handling Group, one of the world’s largest lift truck manufacturers, for the development and building of fuel cell power packs that are compatible with class 2 lift trucks, commonly used in warehouses.

Hydrogenics will also design and build four eight-kilowatt fuel cell backup power solutions to be deployed at the sites of four leading telecommunications providers, demonstrating the commercial viability of this application.

Additionally, Hydrogenics will contract with a third party to advance the development of international codes and standards in the field of hydrogen refuellers and component parts. This will help facilitate the commercialization of fuel cells, hydrogen and related technologies on a global basis, helping companies like Hydrogenics to sell their products around the world.

The fourth new project is led by Enbridge Gas Distribution, which will coordinate the integration of a large stationary fuel cell with its natural gas high-pressure pipeline energy recovery system. This project will use fuel cell technology to generate 1.2 megawatts of clean energy - enough to power up to 900 homes – and use by-product heat to reduce natural gas consumption at the facility.

Enbridge expects that this project will assist in establishing a sales demand for its waste energy recovery technology throughout North America, a market estimated at between 500 to 600 megawatts.

The company previously received funding from the federal government, bringing the bringing the total government contribution to more than $2 million since the beginning of the project. The entire project is estimated to cost around $10 million.

Substituting Petrochemicals with Biomaterials

The four-year, $24-million Innovation Demonstration Fund (IDF) helps companies develop promising new technologies by supporting them at the crucial pilot or demonstration project stage. The fund focuses on new bio-based (made from biological or renewable materials), environmental and alternative energy technologies.

By replacing materials made with petrochemicals with biomaterials based on natural sources, the government hopes the process of manufacturing vehicles in Ontario will become more environmentally sustainable.

The maximum support available is $4 million per project. Investments focus on early-stage technologies that have strong potential to succeed. Priority is given to projects that have the potential to generate a global business.

Other important conditions for investment:

  • The company requires investment to get the technology "off the ground";

  • There is high likelihood the company will be able to get future investments from other sources in one to two years; and

  • The company has a significant, long-term operational commitment to Ontario.

The Innovation Demonstration Fund has committed $5.4 million so far this year to help commercialize new technologies.

The two most recent projects to receive funding are:

The Woodbridge Group’s BioFoam project, which will receive $1 million to support the research and commercialization of soy-based polyol in polyurethane automotive products.

The project will help commercialize the use of polyols - a key ingredient in the production of the polyurethane material used in automotive seats and interior pieces - produced from renewable soy oil. Currently, these materials are made using polyols derived from non-renewable petroleum.

A further $400,000 will be directed to Greencore Composites to set up a demonstration plant in Mississauga for the production of its Green Inside material - a high-performance natural fibre reinforced composite. By replacing petroleum-based materials with sustainable natural fibres, Greencore’s Green Inside composite offers environmental benefits while more than doubling the strength of the base synthetic material. Greencore is working to commercialize the material for use in Ontario’s auto sector.

Previous projects to receive IDF funding include Plasco Energy Group’s waste to energy gasification technology, which was awarded $4 million in April 2007. The company’s plant will operate for two years and divert 85 tonnes of waste per day, producing electricity onsite for use in the facility and for sale to the Ontario electricity market.