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Partnership helps promote hydrogen railway project in Mooresville

BOONE – The Mooresville-South Iredell Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring an Appalachian State University researcher’s travel to Great Britain as part of an ongoing partnership between the two organizations to facilitate the development and deployment of hydrogen train technology.

The Mooresville Chamber and Appalachian State University’s Energy Center have collaborated since 2005 to produce the International Hydrail Conference, the world’s only conference series focused on the use of hydrogen fuel to power locomotives. Environmental and energy security concerns drove the Mooresville Chamber’s interest in using hydrogen as an alternative fuel and since signing a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Department of Energy in 2003, the chamber’s related efforts have primarily focused on developing hydrogen-fueled rail-based transportation, called hydrail.

Diesel fuel is commonly used to fuel trains in the U.S., and according to the Mooresville Chamber’s Hydrogen Economy Advancement Team Chairperson Stan Thompson, “Advancing the oil-to-hydrogen transition by even one year can avoid the extraction of three billion barrels of oil and the release of 214 million tons of carbon dioxide.”

The Mooresville Chamber’s interest in sustainability and energy security has attracted the involvement and support of like-minded local businesses. The chamber’s travel sponsorship funds were donated by Michael Bay, a member of the Mooresville Chamber and sustainability advocate. Bay’s business, Merinos Home Furnishings, operates in a former textile mill that dates back to the 1890s. While restoring these historical buildings, Bay balanced the preservation of period architecture with highly energy efficient improvements, such as the use of day-lighting, a night-air cooling system, and other high-efficiency design features.

Bay, who was born in Turkey, provided valuable guidance on customs and business practices in advance of the 2010 hydrail conference which was hosted in Istanbul, Turkey, and organized by the Mooresville Chamber and Appalachian in partnership with ICHET, an Istanbul-based division of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization. Bay’s donation to the chamber is for use in funding travel expenses related to the hydrail conference which has been held in Spain, Denmark, Turkey, and locally in Charlotte.

“If the chamber from a town this small can reach so far, at least we can help make the stretch a little less difficult,” said Bay about his decision to donate.

A portion of Bay’s donation will help offset travel expenses of Jason Hoyle, a research analyst at Appalachian’s Energy Center who has been a co-organizer of the conference since its inception and who will be delivering a technical presentation at this year’s event on economic valuation methods for public investment decisions in hydrail technology.

“The development and deployment of hydrogen-powered trains is of long-term importance,” said Hoyle. “This technology is not only a way of reducing oil consumption and lessening the environmental and health impacts from transportation, but it also has a vital role in easing the transition away from liquid oil-based fuel into the gaseous fuel systems of the future.”

Accompanying Hoyle and also presenting to this year’s hydrail conference at the University of Birmingham is Stan Thompson and former Mooresville Mayor Bill Thunberg.

More information about this year’s conference, hydrail technology, or past conference proceedings is available on the internet at



Appalachian State University Energy Center – Jason Hoyle, Research Analyst, 828-262-7934,

Mooresville-South Iredell Chamber of Commerce – Sylvia Spury, 704-664-3898,

Hydrogen Economy Advancement Team – Stan Thompson, 704-458-9410,

Former Mooresville Mayor – Bill Thunberg, 704-604-5057,