Business in brief: Grant will fund hydrogen research

SATURDAY, OCT. 27, 2007

A Spokane company plans to use a $750,000 federal grant to continue its research into technology for purification and generation of hydrogen.

Genesis FuelTech Inc. will use the U.S. Department of Energy grant over two years toward its project to test new designs and fabrication processes for metallic membranes used in purification and generation, according to the company.

Five-year-old Genesis, which provides technology to the fuel-cell industry, may offer a complete 500-watt hydrogen power-generating system starting next year, said Phillip Piffer, president. The company is focusing on European customers, he said, “because that’s where the interest in alternative energy is.”

Genesis has created a hydrogen-purifier module that has run continuously for 1,500 hours, he said. The next objective will be scaling up the device.

The membrane modules will “substantially lower the manufacturing costs of fuel processors and hydrogen purification devices, while greatly improving their reliability and durability,” according to a company news release.

Piffer expects business to take off in 2009, he said.

BlueRay pushes for federal court

An attorney for BlueRay Technologies Inc. will seek to move a lawsuit against the company by a Spokane nonprofit law center to federal court, according to court documents he intended to file Friday.

The lawsuit, filed in Spokane County Superior Court by the Center for Justice, alleges the Blu-ray disc maker violated state and federal housing laws by evicting more than 40 poor tenants from federally subsidized housing in the downtown Commercial Building without proper notice.

Steven Schneider, attorney for BlueRay, has contended the lawsuit is “frivolous” and BlueRay wasn’t party to subsidy contracts cited by the center.

“The law remains the same, regardless,” said Breean Beggs, head of the Center for Justice. “But going to federal court will probably slow down the initial process of getting a decision from the court.”


Puget Sound Energy purchased

A group of Canadian investors is buying Puget Sound Energy, the state’s largest private utility.

Puget Energy, the parent company, says the consortium is paying a 25 percent premium over yesterday’s closing stock price.

The deal is subject to the approval of shareholders and regulators but the company expects it to close in the second half of 2008. The headquarters will remain in Bellevue and Steve Reynolds will remain as CEO with current management and employees.

Puget Sound Energy has more than 1 million electricity customers and 721,000 natural gas customers in 11 counties, mostly in Western Washington.

The buyers group is led by Macquarie Infrastructure Partners, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, and British Columbia Investment Management Corporation.


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