Ohio University researcher Gerardine Botte, Ph.D., has discovered how to produce hydrogen fuel inexpensively, and now she and the university have signed an agreement to license her technology to a corporation that will take it to the marketplace. The company, American Hydrogen Corp., has also set up offices in Athens at the Ohio University Innovation Center. The license agreement grants American Hydrogen, a wholly owned subsidiary of American Security Resources Corp. (AmSR), exclusive worldwide rights to commercialize the technology.
Botte, associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering in the Russ College of Engineering and Technology, has developed the patent-pending ammonia catalytic electrolyzer technology, which efficiently converts ammonia into hydrogen to produce inexpensive fuel. “The beauty of this technology is that it can go so many places. It could drive a car here, but it could even be in a shuttle in a mission to Mars in the future,” Botte said.
It was the technology’s application in clean-energy fuel cell generators that drew American Hydrogen to Botte’s research. “We searched everywhere for a method to produce inexpensive hydrogen fuel. Dr. Botte’s technology held the highest promise for knocking down the price of hydrogen to a rate that is competitive,” Frank Neukomm, chairman and chief executive officer of AmSR, said at the official signing.
The deal included two other components: a $600,000 sponsored research contract from American Hydrogen to support research and development of the technology, including funding for several student and technical staff members, and an agreement that grants The Ohio University Foundation equity in AmSR.
The first application for Botte’s research will be in fuel for a hydrogen generator that produces electricity for homes and offices. Another AmSR subsidiary, HydraFuel Cell Corp., produces the generators and was looking for ways to make them affordable for consumers when it ran across Botte’s research.
“We see the first sweet spot in the market being the introduction of the hydrogen economy in stationary applications, followed by mobile applications and any place where power is intermittent, problematic and needs to be supported over an extended period of time,” said Ben Schafer, president of American Hydrogen.
Botte is director of the university’s Electrochemical Engineering Research Laboratory. In 2006, she earned the university’s Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Outstanding Research Paper Award and the Martin E. and Ann D. White Research Award.
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. AmSR’s website is located at www.americansecurityresources.com