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Groundbreaking for EERC's $3 Million Hydrogen Facility

Construction on the University of North Dakota (UND) Energy & Environmental Research Center's (EERC's) National Center for Hydrogen Technology facility will soon be under way. The EERC will break ground on the $3 million facility on Monday, April 17, 2006. Ceremonies will begin at 1:30 p.m. in the EERC's Discovery Hall.

The 15,000-square-foot facility will allow the EERC to capitalize on the tremendous growth in hydrogen-related projects at the EERC. The facility will significantly enhance the strategic research, development, testing, and commercialization of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies and result in 50 to 100 new, high-paying private sector equivalent jobs at the EERC. An additional 50 to 100 new private sector jobs in the greater Grand Forks region will also evolve as these projects progress.

"This facility represents a significant partnership between the federal government, the state of North Dakota, the city of Grand Forks, private industry, and the EERC and provides a cornerstone to address the nation's enormous challenge of developing new technologies that will guarantee our energy security for the long term," said EERC Director Gerald Groenewold.

A 30-foot-high demonstration/testing area will be located inside the building, along with a staging area for vehicle demonstration, a fuel cell testing area, a high-temperature materials lab, and other individual labs for a variety of hydrogen production technologies. The building is being designed by Schoen & Associates.

"This building will provide a specialized state-of-the-art facility to provide solutions for the world's growing energy needs, while at the same time opportunities for regional economic growth," said Associate Director for Research Tom Erickson.

Funding for the facility is being provided by the North Dakota Centers of Excellence Commission, which awarded the EERC $2.5 million, and the city of Grand Forks, which provided $500,000 in matching funds.

Governor John Hoeven (R-ND), Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND), and Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND), as well as Robert Potts, Chancellor, North Dakota University System, and Grand Forks Mayor Michael Brown and East Grand Forks Mayor Lynn Stauss, will speak during the groundbreaking ceremonies.

The EERC was designated the National Center for Hydrogen Technology by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in November of 2004 in recognition of over 50 years of hydrogen research involving fossil and renewable energy. Senator Dorgan secured cornerstone research funding, which has been leveraged by numerous corporate partners.

The EERC has more than $20 million in current hydrogen contracts in place. An additional $20 million of near-term opportunities is in discussion with a variety of sponsors, for a total of $40 million.

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