June 27, 2005

TPC investments support innovations in forestry, fuel cells

Technology Partnerships Canada (TPC) is supporting environment and sustainable development-oriented innovations from three innovative British Columbia small and medium-sized enterprises, with investments totalling $28.3 million. These investments will advance research projects with the potential to benefit both the forest and hydrogen industries across Canada.

CellFor, a forestry biotechnology company in Vancouver, will receive up to $9.8 million from TPC. The funding will assist a $48.9-million research project to develop and scale up a novel plant reproduction system for the selection and mass production of naturally occurring, genetically superior conifer seeds and seedlings. This technology, which does not involve genetic modification, will be capable of delivering up to 80 million conifer seedlings annually. It will allow these seedlings and seeds to be made available to the forest industry for the first time, offering the potential to enhance the industry's productivity and improve the sustainability of Canada's forests.

CellFor specializes in a plant propagation method called somatic embryogenesis (SE) and in its application to the accelerated development and mass production of naturally-occurring, genetically superior varieties of conifer seeds and seedlings. Its SE method and first-generation conifer varieties are demonstrating 35 to 50% increases in wood fibre yield.

The other two research projects focus on hydrogen fuel cell technology, which offers the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contributing to a sustainable environment.

TPC will invest up to $9.5 million toward a $28.9-million project undertaken by Cellex Power Products, in Richmond. Through this project, the company will develop hydrogen fuel cell power units suited for use by industrial lift trucks, such as forklifts used in warehouses. The company is developing a hybrid fuel cell/battery technology to replace standard lead acid batteries currently used in electric lift trucks.

This project will allow Cellex to undertake the research and development necessary to bring down costs and increase the reliability, longevity, durability and performance of its power units. While initially focused on industrial lift trucks, in the longer term Cellex intends to develop products for use in other small industrial vehicles currently powered by batteries or internal combustion engines, such as airport ground support equipment, mining vehicles, personnel carriers, and commercial sweepers and scrubbers.

Another Richmond firm, General Hydrogen (Canada), will receive an investment of up to $9 million toward a $28-million project to further the development and commercialization of its integrated systems modules and associated HydricityTM packs. In this project, HydricityTM packs will serve as a test platform for integrated system modules technology and provide a viable early-market product to help further the fuel cell industry.

Integrated system modules provide process control and fluid management for proton exchange membrane fuel cell systems under 50 kW. These modules will simplify fuel cell system development, reduce the cost of fuel cell power systems, and foster the development of fuel cell applications.

HydricityTM packs are complete, self-contained fuel cell power systems which can replace conventional lead-acid batteries in electric lift trucks and other mobile and stationary applications. HydricityTM packs offer reduced operating costs through improved running time and performance, and can be fuelled quickly without removal, thereby eliminating the need for battery changing, charging and maintenance equipment.

Technology Partnerships Canada, an agency of Industry Canada, is a key instrument for advancing the commercialization of research and development. Working in partnership with innovative companies across Canada, TPC shares in the cost of private-sector technology projects related to environmental and enabling technologies as well as those in the aerospace and defence sectors.

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