|EERC Foundation receives patent application approval |
After six years of diligent prosecution, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued the Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) Foundation, allowance for a patent application on a system that produces high-pressure hydrogen on-demand. The final patent will be approved in the very near future.
The EERC technology converts alcohols or liquid fuels, such as ethanol, methanol, and gasoline, to high-pressure hydrogen at the time of fueling. Utilizing this state-of-the-art process, the prohibitive infrastructure costs of nationwide hydrogen transportation and storage will be eliminated so that hydrogen refueling will be accessible and affordable. The hydrogen is produced on-site, on-demand at the fuel pump, rather than at a separate location.
"Through the hydrogen programs at the EERC, we are breaking down barriers, bringing down the costs, and shortening the timetable to the point where hydrogen will be a major component of our national energy future," said EERC Director Gerald Groenewold. "The high-pressure hydrogen production technology is a cornerstone technology for achieving those goals."
Researchers in the EERC's National Center for Hydrogen Technology, with support from the U.S. Department of Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory and over 85 corporate partners, have proved the conversion of methanol into hydrogen and are working toward obtaining similar results for ethanol and hydrocarbon fuels, including military jet fuel.
This technology is a cornerstone for the EERC's proposed United States-Israel Hydrogen Fueling and Fleet Demonstration, which proposes to demonstrate hydrogen as a fuel for transit buses in North Dakota and Tel Aviv, Israel. The EERC is currently seeking federal cofunding for that project.
Tom Bechtel, EERC Foundation board president and the principal at TFB Consulting Services in New Bern, N.C., said, "The EERC Foundation Board of Directors is extremely proud of this milestone. It is a marvelous example of the ever-increasing portfolio of EERC technologies the Foundation is bringing to commercial deployment."
The technology is also being commercialized for many other different applications as well as with a variety of corporate and governmental partners and includes industrial applications that provide near-term commercial opportunities for North Dakota in manufacturing and cold-weather testing.
"This patent allowance will clearly strengthen the ability of the EERC Foundation to license the technology," said Carsten Heide, associate director for Intellectual Property Management and Technology Commercialization. "We are continually making design advancements to this technology and are broadening the patent to protect those new developments." The EERC Foundation houses the rights to technologies developed by the EERC and promotes business relationships with strategic partners interested in commercializing those technologies. The patent term expires Dec. 13, 2024.