Wednesday, April 29th, 2009
By Margie Wuebker
Crown gets $1 million grant for project
  Crown Equipment Corp., headquartered in New Bremen, has received a second $1 million grant from the state for a project to utilize fuel cells as the power source for a line of lift trucks.
The award for advanced research and development and commercialization comes through the Ohio Third Frontier Program with Crown being the only recipient in the area of fuel cell development. The company received just under $1 million for the same purpose last year.
"This second grant allows work begun last year to continue," Crown's Human Resource Director Randy Niekamp said this morning. "We are very pleased and thankful. Crown is very involved in environmental sustainability."
He could not comment on the number of jobs associated with the project.
The project will investigate, model and create a running prototype of an integrated fuel cell forklift truck. Fuel cells generate electrical power efficiently, without pollution, by converting hydrogen and oxygen into water and in the process produce electricity.
The project includes partnerships between Crown, Ohio Northern University, Edison Materials Technology Center and NexTech, a firm involved in hydrogen sensor technology.
Ohio's Third Frontier Program was created in 2002 with $103 million in funds to provide grants that involve Ohio higher education institutions, nonprofit research organizations and Ohio businesses. Projects must focus on research and development. The Ohio Fuel Cell Initiative, which is part of the program, aims to spur job creation in the state while positioning Ohio as a national leader in the growing fuel cell industry.
Pollution reduction is the state's primary reason for promoting fuel cells, says a press release.
The announcement of Crown's award was made Tuesday by Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland and Mark Barbash, Ohio Third Frontier Commission chairman and interim Department of Development director.
Additionally, six other companies across the state will share in $2.1 million in commercialization research grants for projects involving intelligent robotic machinery, high-temperature adhesives and quality assurance. The awards are contingent upon State Controlling Board approval.
Crown was founded in the 1940s and began manufacturing electric lift trucks in the mid-1950s. The company currently ranks as the top electric lift truck manufacturer in the country and the fifth largest worldwide.
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