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Date: May 19, 2004

Federal Government supports fuel cells research at the University of Victoria

VICTORIA, B.C. – The Honourable David Anderson, Minister of the Environment and Senior Minister for B.C., on behalf of the Honourable Dr. Rey D. Pagtakhan, Minister of Western Economic Diversification, today announced funding of $522,000 for the University of Victoria’s Institute for Integrated Energy Systems (IESVic) to enhance research and development of hydrogen and fuel cells technology.

“The fuel cells sector has the potential to make a significant contribution to reaching both our climate change and our clean air objectives,” said Minister Anderson. “The Government of Canada is committed to sustainable development through alternative energy, such as fuel cells, to ensure a safe and clean environment for future generations.”

The funds will allow IESVic to purchase equipment—including advanced instrumentation for testing and measurements in fuel cells, state-of-the-art high-pressure composite cylinders to store hydrogen and a hydrogen compressor—that will advance its study in the fuel cells and hydrogen sector.

“The storage tank and compressor will be part of our Integrated Renewable Energy Experiment and will allow us to store solar or wind energy in the form of hydrogen,” explained Dr. Ned Djilali, IESVic’s director. “Then, we can draw on this stored energy by feeding it back into a fuel cell to produce power when needed. This investment from Western Economic Diversification Canada will allow us to pursue innovative research in fuel cells and sustainable energy systems integration. It will also enhance our capacity to assist industrial partners in developing this exciting new technology.”

Fuel cells generate electricity by chemically combining stored hydrogen with oxygen, producing water and heat—their only emissions—as a byproduct. Because fuel cells are quiet, clean and efficient, they offer the opportunity to transform the global energy system by introducing zero-emission technologies for mobile, portable, and stationary applications such as fuel cell-powered vehicles, cell phones, laptops and even entire buildings. Fuel cell-based energy devices will generate substantially less greenhouse gases than many other products currently available.

Most of today's energy systems require technological pathways based on non-renewable or greenhouse gas-emitting energy sources, such as hydrocarbons. Because these common energy resources are both unsustainable and harmful, IESVic is committed to promoting and developing creative alternatives through original research. Founded in 1989, IESVic’s areas of expertise are fuel cells, cryofuels, energy systems analysis and energy policy development. Last month, an IESVic student team won the grand prize in the first annual University Student Hydrogen Design Contest for its design of a hydrogen fueling station that could conceivably open by March 2006.

Western Economic Diversification Canada is the federal department mandated to support economic diversification in communities across Western Canada through activities that promote Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Sustainable Communities. Funding for this project was provided for in the March 2004 federal budget.
Media contacts:
Susan Schooley, Manager, Communications, Western Economic Diversification Canada, at (604) 666-1318. Web site: www.wd.gc.ca
Kelly Morgan, Director of Communications, Office of the Minister of the Environment at (819) 997-1441
Dr. Ned Djilali, Director, IESVic, at (250) 721-6034 or ndjilali@uvic.ca. Web site: http://www.iesvic.uvic.ca/
Maria Lironi, Communications Officer, UVic Communications Services at (250) 721-6139 or lironim@uvic.ca. Web site: http://web.uvic.ca/ucom

UVic media releases and other resources for journalists are available on the World Wide Web at http://communications.uvic.ca/media

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