Hydrogen Lab Opens in Aiken County

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February 13, 2006
It was the grand opening of a state of the art research facility in Aiken County Monday morning. Businesses and government leaders say it marks the future of automobiles in this country. News 12 takes you to the big unveiling.

President Bush just talked about lowering America’s addiction to oil two weeks ago during his State of the Union address. And locally, there’s a new research facility to help.

Hundreds of spectators, dozens of dignitaries from Gov. Mark Sanford to congressmen, and Savannah River Company President Bob Pedde all gathered at what’s being billed as the next frontier for vehicles.

Aiken County lured the center after SRS donated the land. Council Chairman Ronnie Young says it takes advantage of the wealth of talent currently at SRS.

“However, we also want all citizens of Aiken County to participate in the emerging hydrogen economy,” Young said.

One estimate states that the hydrogen fuel cell initiative will create one million US jobs over the next 20 years. And officials say this $10 million facility is the only one in America fully dedicated to hydrogen research. The hope is to create affordable, reliable cars that don’t use any gas. The only by-product is water.

“Today we can see in real concrete terms literally concrete terms, the visionary path to help reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil that President Bush laid out three years ago,” said Dep. Sec. Clay Sell, US Department of Energy.

Toyota officials also announced today that they’ll lease part of the hydrogen lab for its own research and development. They’ll work with researchers at the center to expand fuel cell-powered vehicles.

Officials are hoping that hydrogen research will be a big boost for high-paying jobs in Aiken County. And also, hopes that it will attract other research industries to town.