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Kaori to supply a key component of solid-oxide fuel cells (SOFC)contract with Bloom Energy

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan’s Kaori Heat Treatment Co. has secured a new supply contract with a U.S.-based energy systems developer Bloom Energy, which is expected to earn the Taiwan company NT$100 million (US$3.04 million) in revenue this year.

Under the contract signed Wednesday in Taipei between the two enterprises, Kaori will supply hotboxes — a key component of solid-oxide fuel cells (SOFC) — to Bloom Energy. More than 200 units are expected to be shipped by the end of this year.

Bloom Energy is backed by venture capital firms Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) and New Enterprise Associates (NEA) . It was identified by Business 2.0 Magazine in 2007 as one of 15 companies that “will change the world.”

Headed by K.R. Sridhar, a former aerospace engineering professor who developed a device for the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration to turn carbon dioxide into oxygen on Mars, Bloom Energy is engaged in the development of solid-oxide fuel cells that allow homes to generate their own electricity.

The fuel cells can convert almost any hydrocarbon fuel into electricity without combustion, and the greenhouse gas production is half of that from conventional energy sources.

Kaori Chairman Hans H.S. Han said the contract with Bloom Energy marks his company’s access to the renewable energy market, which has gotten a boost as a result of initiatives by many governments worldwide to encourage the development and use of green energy.

According to Han, Bloom Energy’s products, which will be sold at large retail stores such as Walmart, have a huge global market.

Founded in 1970, Kaori mainly specializes in metal heat treatment processing and the manufacture of metal products. It is currently the sole manufacturer of brazed heat exchangers in Taiwan, and has sales in over 60 countries.

Using technology transferred from Bloom Energy, Kaori has since the second quarter of 2009 launched a new production line for SOFC hotboxes, Han said.

The two sides formally signed the supply contract after the shipments passed quality verification, he added.

Green energy is one of five new industries that are being promoted by the government in Taiwan.

Under a project approved by the Cabinet in April, the government will invest NT$25 billion over the next five years in the development of renewable energy and will subsidize the general installation of energy saving devices.

It will also provide NT$20 billion for research and development of green energy technologies, which is expected in turn to draw NT$200 billion in private investment in the industry.

The project will target fields such as solar energy, light emitting diode (LED) lighting, wind power, biomass fuel, hydrogen power, fuel cells, electric vehicles, energy information and communication technology.

July 9, 2009 - 4:49 PM