The funding, which was secured by Slaughter, was included in the FY 2007 Defense Appropriations Bill signed into law by President Bush on Sept. 26.
“Rochester is poised to become the national hub in the development of fuel cell technology,” said Slaughter. “We represent the nexus between research and manufacturing that is needed to make emerging technologies mainstream. The potential for long-term economic development and job growth driven by RIT is both exciting and necessary for Rochester's future success.”
“It is estimated that the fuel cell sector will generate $15 billion in revenue over the next 10 years,” Slaughter added. “If our economy is to grow, and if we are to produce enough jobs to support our high-skilled workforce, we must make sure that revenue is generated here in western New York.”
RIT President Albert Simone was also a featured speaker at the event. “The presence of leading firms such as General Motors and Delphi, and the work that they are doing to advance the mass production viability of fuel cell powered vehicles, along with the growing number of supplier companies in this region, makes Rochester very competitive in this high stakes, high opportunity market,” Simone noted. “One of the critical ingredients of success is the depth and breadth of research expertise that a region has to offer to companies in this industry, complemented by the availability of a highly skilled and well prepared workforce.”
“This new research funding will further strengthen RIT’s capabilities as a key asset to the region and to the industry in the development of fuel cell and alternative energy technologies, and accelerating their commercialization and mass production opportunities.”
The funds will be used at RIT’s fuel cell research and testing lab to address a host of questions related to fuel cell lifecycles, their environmental impact, and their disposal. Developing solutions to problems in these areas is essential to the production of a viable fuel cell that can be used in consumer and commercial products.
Rochester is becoming the geographic nexus of fuel cell research. Both General Motors and Delphi have their largest fuel cell research facilities in Rochester.
The city's long-standing expertise in precision manufacturing, along with its local university research, have made it increasingly attractive to major manufacturers. Recently, for example, Nu-Kote International announced that it will be moving its world headquarters to Rochester. The company, one of the world’s largest independent manufacturers and distributors of imaging supplies, cited the proximity its new facility would have to RIT as one reason behind its decision. RIT conducts research and development on many of Nu-Kote’s materials and products, research and development that the company cited as an important part of its success.
Similar relationships between RIT and companies connected to fuel cell production are the goal of research and development projects such as the one announced today.