Microcell, a Raleigh-based developer of novel fuel cell technology, has opened its 80,000 square foot manufacturing facility in this Martin County town.

The facility will eventually employ more than 100 workers.

Microcell’s niche in alternative energy is based on what is called proton exchange membrane, or PEM, technology. Ray Eshraghi, the founder and chief executive officer of Microcell, and the company have numerous patents in the U.S. and several more pending internationally. Eshraghi founded the company in 2000.

Microcell’s fuel cells are cylindrical in shape and include membranes that are nanometer in size. At this point, the cells produce electricity based on bottled hydrogen. It is Microcell’s contention that fuel cells based on a cylindrical shape are cheaper to produce and easier to maintain than fuel cells utilizing a flat, rectangular platform.

The hydrogen is fed into the fuel cells and split into negative and positive ions. The negative ions are used to create an electrical current.

Progress Energy, Duke Energy and North Carolina’s Rural Electric Cooperatives have all invested in Microcell.

The plant is in production to meet product orders from strategic partners and other customers, according to a press release.

“The new Microcell facility will provide an outlet for local technicians, engineers, and production workers,” said Gene Rogers, chair of the North Carolina’s Northeast Commission. “Our trained workforce often leaves the area for higher paid technical jobs, but this is an opportunity in our backyard. It’s an opportunity to allow our most well-trained people to remain in Northeastern North Carolina.”