On behalf of its partners in the University of South Carolina, the City of Columbia Fuel Cell Collaborative (SCRA) has signed a contract with the Centre for Transportation and the Environment to lead a project that will install and commission a hydrogen fuelling station in downtown Columbia.

An initial project kick-off meeting has taken place and work is set to commence immediately, with the goal of having the station operational in advance of the 2009 National Hydrogen Association’s annual conference - which will be held in Columbia in late March 2009.

Funding for the first phase of the project, which will design and configure the station, order major pieces of equipment and secure the necessary permits to begin construction, is being provided by proceeds from a federal grant awarded to EngenuitySC and by proceeds from the South Carolina Industry Partnership Fund administered by SCRA.

This phase will permit compression, storage and dispensing of high pressure gaseous hydrogen, while subsequent phases of the project will provide the capability to generate hydrogen on site.

The SCRA is a global leader in applied research and commercialisation and CEO Bill Mahoney commented, “This project represents an unambiguous commitment by the political, economic and academic leaders in the Columbia region to growing and developing a hydrogen and fuel cell economy in the Midlands.”.

“SCRA is pleased to lead investment in this and other projects that fulfil our legislative mandates through the Innovation Centres and Industry Partnership Acts.”

The station’s first ‘customer’ so to speak, will be the Federal Transit Administration’s National Fuel Cell Bus Program, which will provide a hybrid battery-fuel cell bus for demonstration in Columbia beginning late in 2008.

“Our commitment to creating a hydrogen and fuel cell economy in Columbia is one step closer with the launch of this fuelling station. This station and other related projects lay the foundation for making our vision a reality,” said Bob Coble, Mayor of the City of Columbia.