Canadian companies form fuel cell association

Three Canadian companies have formed an association to prepare for the establishment of a fuel distribution network to meet the expected market demand for fuel cell vehicles.

Under a five-year Memorandum of Understanding, Petro-Canada, Ballard and Methanex will collaborate in laying the groundwork for a pilot project involving the supply and distribution of appropriate fuel, starting with methanol, to facilitate the introduction of fuel cell vehicles.

The three companies will collaborate in identifying a pilot site involving auto manufacturers and implementing the emerging technology at the consumer level.

As Canada’s gas station, Petro-Canada brings to the association its marketing and distribution expertise and a national network of outlets. Headquartered in Calgary, Petro-Canada is one of Canada’s largest oil and gas companies, operating in both the upstream and the downstream sectors of the industry. Petro-Canada has a coast-to-coast network of close to 1700 retail outlets and employs more than 4,500 people.

Ballard Power Systems developes, manufactures and markets zero-emission proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells for use in transportation, electricity generation and portable products. DaimlerChrysler and Ford Motors are already looking at using Ballard Power Systems’ Alliance fuel cell technology as the power source for the next generation of vehicles.

Methanex is a Vancouver-based producer and marketer of methanol. Methanol is typically manufactured from natural gas, and is a basic chemical building block used in environmentally-friendly products such as recyclable plastics, reconstituted wood products and cleaner-burning gasoline.

“As the introduction of fuel cell powered cars approaches in the year 2004 and as these vehicles become more common, Canada will require a local fuel distribution network for these vehicles, which this Association begins to address,” said Firoz Rasul, Ballard’s Chairman and CEO.

” We will work with Petro-Canada to develop a network for distributing methanol through a pilot project and ultimately on a country-wide basis,” said Methanex CEO Pierre Choquette. “Methanol has already been demonstrated to be a clean, affordable source of fuel that will have widespread benefits for Canadians”.

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