University of South Carolina
The Promise of Hydrogen


Promising hydrogen technology could add thousands of high-paying jobs and transform South Carolina's economy from one of manufacturing to one of leading-edge technology.

A catalyst that will help to make that happen is The South Carolina Research Centers of Economic Excellence Program. Established by the South Carolina General Assembly in 2002, the program is funded through South Carolina Education Lottery proceeds.

The program's importance to the future of South Carolina is immeasurable. It funds research in specific areas that show the greatest promise for higher paying job creation, thus building the state's economy and improving its citizens' standard of living.

The Centers of Economic Excellence Program also: Click Here

  1. Is a magnet for outside investment. State money for each Center is matched dollar-for-dollar by non-state contributors.

  2. Recruits scientists and engineers to lead high-impact research programs. These top-flight scientists help South Carolina stimulate patenting, venture capital investment, and the creation of startup companies.

  3. Creates a talent pipeline for South Carolina. The presence of top researchers and facilities helps South Carolina's research universities attract the best and brightest students—the next generation of researchers.

  4. Helps South Carolina companies succeed. The research funded by the program directly supports the strategic business goals of South Carolina companies. Program researchers are working to generate technology that South Carolina companies can use to create new products, improve processes, increase sales, and ultimately create jobs.

  5. Brings together the brightest minds and most cutting-edge technology within specific, knowledge-based fields. This innovative environment promotes the kinds of research breakthroughs that can become marketable applications through the development of spin-off companies to produce and sell these new products.

  6. Advances South Carolina's efforts to create a vibrant knowledge economy.

At the heart of each Center of Economic Excellence are one or more world-class scientists who lead research endeavors. These endowed professors are in turn supported by a group of senior faculty members, as well as a research team consisting of junior faculty members, research faculty, and graduate students.

The University is currently involved in more than 20 Centers of Economic Excellence, four of which are directly related to fuel cell research. They are: Click Here

  1. The Center for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Economy is part of the University's larger Future Fuels™ Initiative, which is expanding the College of Engineering and Computing's expertise in fuel cells and alternative energy. This Center conducts research to develop hydrogen storage materials and sensors for fuel cells. A startup company, Palmetto Fuel Cell Technologies, and six spin-off companies have been created through associated work of the Centers.

  2. The Center for Renewable Fuel Cells for the Fuel Cell Economy also is part of the Future Fuels™ Initiative and develops catalysts that allow alternative fuels to be produced from renewable sources, which will be extremely important as the transportation sector moves away from dependence on imported oil and carbon-based fuel. The Center also coordinates state and local research projects to attract additional capital investment in fuel-cell-related industry to South Carolina.

  3. The Center for the Science and Engineering of Solid Oxide Fuel Cells, also part of the Future Fuels™ Initiative, works to develop new fuel and energy choices. Solid oxide fuel cells are one of the leading types of fuel cells available for commercialization. They can be used in large, high-power systems such as in full-scale industrial and large-scale electricity generating stations.

  4. The Center for Polymer Nanocomposites focuses on developing improved materials for the polymers market. The plastics industry in South Carolina currently accounts for approximately five percent of the Gross State Product of goods and services. This Center aims to transform the plastics industry and thus have a major impact on the state's manufacturing economy.

New technology-driven companies are key to creating South Carolina's knowledge-based economy. Because start-up businesses are at the forefront of developing such new innovative technologies, the University's Technology Incubator is key to the state's healthy economic future.

The incubator recruits, nurtures, and deploys new companies in a collaborative effort with Midlands Technical College. The effort is backed by a number of area governmental and private sponsors, as well as faculty, staff, and students. Start-up companies create products and services that improve the quality of our lives.

The Intellectual Property Office works with business and entrepreneurial interests to leverage the University's intellectual property for its benefit and for the benefit of faculty, the public, and the state of South Carolina.

Eight technologies related to Energy and Future Fuels are available for licensing from the University of South Carolina.

IP and the Technology Incubator have worked together to launch a number of successful start-up companies. In fact, South Carolina ranked 19th among 155 comprehensive universities nationally and 14th among public universities for the number of start-up companies created in 2006.

The latest national technology-transfer survey from the Association of University Technology Managers , which measures intellectual-property licensing activities in the U.S. and Canada, showed South Carolina's six new companies tied private universities Johns Hopkins, Northwestern, and Cornell.

EngenuitySC, a nonprofit dedicated to spurring a knowledge-based economy in the Midlands, is using a $1 million federal grant to create the incubator, complete with lab space. According to a recent study conducted by the National Policy Research Council, South Carolina is one of the country's top ten "Hot States for Entrepreneurs." The University's resources —professional mentoring, affordable facilities, access to seed capital, service provider networks, and computer networking—create a fertile environment for this growth.

There are currently 51 companies in the incubator, several of which are energy- or hydrogen-related, including: Click Here

  1. D-Energy, which designs and will manufacture hydrogen generation systems that provide hydrogen gas to portable and stationary fuel cells.

  2. Hydrogen Hybrid Mobility (H2M), which provides Integrated Hydrogen Fuel Cell Power for Personal Mobility Devices.

  3. Palmetto Fuel Cell Group encompasses Palmetto Fuel Cell Analysis & Design, advanced software and consulting; and Palmetto Fuel Cell Technologies, advanced hardware for fuel cell manufacturers

  4. BoroScience International, Inc., which provides custom synthesis of boron compounds for biomedicine, advanced materials, semiconductors, electronics and hydrogen fuel cells. The company also offers technical and specialty grades of Ammonia Borane, Borazine and Polyborazylene for research and commercial applications.

  5. NextGenEn Inc. is a technology company dedicated to developing the world's Next Generation of Energy solutions, utilizing solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology.
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