FuelCellsWorks

Industry News & Information Leader

SFC EFOY ReliOn Hydrogenics Honda Plug Power Toyota BMW

Archives

SFC Energy AG receives an additional major order for portable JENNY fuel cells from Deutsche Bundeswehr

- Deutsche Bundeswehr orders additional portable JENNY fuel cells with power network for soldiers

- Order volume: just under  EUR 5 million net

- Delivery expected in 2012

Brunnthal/Munich— SFC Energy AG, today has received a third serial order of Deutsche Bundeswehr. Deutsche Bundeswehr is equipping additional soldiers with the portable JENNY fuel cell, the SFC Power Manager, a hybrid battery specially tailored to the system, and a solar panel, as well as extensive accessories. As a powerful and flexible power supply, the energy network allows operation of stationary and mobile power consumers – e.g. radios, navigational equipment, night-vision equipment, laser range-finders, portable computers, and PDAs.

The order volume amounts to just under EUR 5 million net. Delivery of the systems is expected to take place before the end of 2012.

March 30, 2012 - 12:46 PM No Comments

World Record: Jülich Fuel Cell Passes 40,000 Hour Mark

Brennstoffzellenstack Several planar solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC) can be used together combine to form a stack. The pictured here has a power of 5 kW.
Source: Research Centre Jülich

New record means fuel cells now ready for stationary applications

Jülich-– A planar solid oxide fuel cell from Jülich has clocked up more than 40,000 operating hours. It is thus the first in the world to achieve the operating time required for the cost-effective deployment of fuel cells in stationary applications, corresponding to five years. Due to the good efficiency and high operating temperature, development of this type of fuel cell is targeting stationary applications in particular, such as decentralized systems for private households.

The Jülich stack test is not operated in a laboratory environment, but has already made all the components that will comprise a possible commercial product later. It is powered by hydrogen, which is converted with an efficiency of 64% in the cell into electricity. Other fuels such as natural gas can be implemented, even with higher efficiency, as other studies have shown. While fuel cells in vehicles must hold only 5,000 to 10,000 hours long, the economic operation in stationary applications require a minimum term of five years or the equivalent of 40,000 hours. This value could Jülich SOFC (Solid Oxide Fuel Cell engl., SOFC) on Friday, 16 March 2012, surpassing for the first time in a long-term test and, setting a new world record.

The new peak, the fuel cell has exceeded the expectations of researchers, which started two years ago, only a maximum maturity of around 30,000 hours. “The test has pleasantly surprised us. Although the industrial implementation rather 60000-80000 Hours are desired, the value shows that the long-term stability is given in principle, “says Prof. Detlef Stolten, spokesman of the Jülich Research Center fuel cell. The test system consists already of materials which could also be used for producing a commercial product. Until it does, the cost will need to be optimized and the system proved not only on the test stand, but also under everyday conditions. At the Jülich Institute of Energy and Climate Research (IEK-1, -2, -3 and -9) together with the Central Institute of Technology (ZAT) is to optimize the entire value chain and market-driven development.

The longevity of the Jülich SOFC is also a consequence of their relatively mild temperature of 700 degrees Celsius. Customarily solid oxide fuel cells operate at other than 800 to 1,000 degrees Celsius. The high temperatures make it possible to use relatively inexpensive materials and ignoble and operate the cell with a whole range of different fuels. Because of these properties is providing the SOFC particularly for use in distributed systems, the households and industrial facilities with electricity and taking advantage of waste heat with heat and process energy. Will also be considered in Jülich is also currently on-board power supply applications in road vehicles, ships and aircraft.

March 30, 2012 - 8:00 AM No Comments

3M Gets $3 Million Investment To Make Efficient Fuel Cells For Cars

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The Department of Energy announced Thursday it will make an investment of $3 million in Minnesota-based 3M Co., so as to help it develop cost-effective and efficient fuel cell systems.

The focus of the investment is to cut the cost and boost the performance of fuel cells in cars and stationary devices.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the investment supports President Barack Obama’s all-of-the-above approach energy strategy.

“This investment in Minnesota will help fuel technology breakthroughs, drive down costs, and bring innovative, job-creating clean energy technologies to market faster,” Chu said.

Fuel cells are devices that convert fuel — usually hydrogen or natural gas — to clean electricity, the department said.

The Energy Department has targets set for advanced car technologies. The investment in 3M supports an effort to reach 60 percent peak efficiency, $30 per kilowatt cost and 150,000 miles of driving worth of durability by 2017

March 30, 2012 - 7:08 AM No Comments

Eaton gets $2 million from U.S. for fuel cell work

Reuters-Auto supplier Eaton Corp will get a $2 million grant for work to reduce the costs of fuel cell components, the U.S. Department of Energy said on Thursday.

The three-year project will seek to boost the performance of fuel cells for vehicles and stationary devices while reducing costs, the department said.

“Advancing hydrogen and fuel cell technology is an important part of the Energy Department’s efforts to support the President’s all-of-the-above energy strategy, helping to diversify America’s energy sector and reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement.

Eaton, which makes electrical control systems, auto and truck components, is headquartered in Cleveland. The fuel cell work will be done at its site in Southfield, Michigan in suburban Detroit.

An Eaton spokesman said that work on the project will begin in the second half of this year. No new jobs will be created initially, he said.

Fuel cells convert a fuel, usually hydrogen or natural gas, into electricity which can then used to power cars and trucks. They are a minor player in the automotive industry’s effort to find alternatives to gasoline-fueled engines. However, some see zero-emission fuel cells one day being a viable alternative if, in part, costs decrease and efficiency and durability increase.

The DOE targets fuel cell durability of 5,000 hours, which it says is equal to 150,000 miles of driving, and a cost of $30 per kilowatt hour, by 2017.

(Reporting By Bernie Woodall; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

March 30, 2012 - 6:10 AM No Comments

Fuel Cell Company Tropical S.A. Announces Strategic Private Investment Infusion

ATHENS — Investment to drive international expansion and commercial launch of brand new products

Tropical S.A. today announced its first investment round by an independent private investor. Proceeds from the investment will go toward international expansion and new product development.

“This is a great opportunity for us to accelerate international growth, as well as make broadly available a number of high-tech products from our product pipeline” said George Lagios, Chairman and CEO of Tropical. “With a solid track record of developing & deploying new products and one of the largest fuel cell power generator product portfolios, we are strategically positioned to take advantage of emerging opportunities.”

According to Pike Research, stationary fuel cell power systems continue to be the trailblazer for the entire fuel cell industry, experiencing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27% between 2008 and 2010 with annual unit shipments soon expected to be in the order of tens of thousands.

Today, Tropical’s product portfolio consists of a Fuel Cell Power Systems, Electric & Fuel Cell Vehicles and Commercial Vehicle A/C & Refrigeration Systems. The Fuel Cell Power Systems can use as primary fuel hydrogen, methanol, propane, natural gas & LPG to power both stationary and portable applications in the range of 1W to 20KW. Tropical has also been the first European company to deploy Hydrogen Fuel Cells to power electric cars, scooters and boats.

Tropical will be introducing its new, 5KW natural gas-powered fuel cell power system GreenGen NG-5, at the upcoming Hydrogen + Fuel Cells tradeshow in Hannover (23-27 April, 2012, stand D60). Show visitors will be able to see a live operation of the 5KW GreenGen NG-5 power system.

About TROPICAL S.A.

Tropical S.A. is a developer of distributed power generation products and solutions. The company designs, manufactures and sells a broad range of Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Technology solutions for residential, commercial and institutional, fixed or portable applications. Its product portfolio includes Fuel Cell Power Systems, Electric & Fuel Cell Vehicles and Commercial Vehicle A/C & Refrigeration Systems. A longtime leader of the A/C & Refrigeration Systems market with its innovative Inverter Technology, over the past decade Tropical made significant investments in the development of fuel cell technologies. For more information about the company and products, you may visit http://www.tropical.gr .

March 30, 2012 - 5:11 AM No Comments

Plug Power Secures New Research Analyst at Sidoti & Company

LATHAM, N.Y.– Plug Power Inc. (Nasdaq:PLUG), a leader in providing clean, reliable energy solutions, announces that Michael Cikos, analyst covering technology for Sidoti & Company, is now providing coverage of Plug Power’s progress and performance against milestones.

Plug Power is the established leader in the development, manufacturing and commercialization of hydrogen fuel cell solutions for the material handling market. Plug Power has provided its GenDrive fuel cells to major North American customers such as Walmart, Sysco Foods and Proctor and Gamble.

Plug Power is being followed by one other analyst at this time: Phillip Shen of Roth Capital Partners.

About Plug Power Inc.

The architects of modern fuel cell technology, Plug Power revolutionized the industry with cost-effective power solutions that increase productivity, lower operating costs and reduce carbon footprints. Long-standing relationships with industry leaders forged the path for our key accounts, including Wegmans, Whole Foods, and FedEx Freight. With more than 2,000 GenDrive units shipped to material handling customers, accumulating over 5.5 million hours of runtime, Plug Power manufactures tomorrow’s incumbent power solutions today. Visit us at www.plugpower.com

March 30, 2012 - 4:10 AM No Comments

Honda Introduces Solar Hydrogen Station on Saitama Prefectural Office Grounds FCX Clarity Used in Electric Vehicle Testing Program to Serve as Mobile Electric Generator

FCX Clarity Used in Electric Vehicle Testing Program to Serve as Mobile Electric Generator

Photo 01

Solar Hydrogen Station & FCX Clarity

TOKYO, Japan– Honda Motor Co., Ltd. unveiled a Solar Hydrogen Station on the grounds of the Saitama Prefectural Office. The initiative is part of the Electric Vehicle Testing Program for Honda’s next-generation personal mobility products with Saitama Prefecture, in which Honda, Iwatani and Saitama Prefecture collaborate to build. In a further initiative, Honda has equipped the FCX Clarity fuel cell electric vehicle with an outlet to function as a 9kW power source. Since the FCX Clarity uses a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen to produce power with zero CO2 emissions, with its new outlet, the vehicle will be able to serve as a zero-emission mobile electric generator.

Solar Hydrogen Station & FCX Clarity
This is the first installation in Japan of a total system to produce, store and dispense hydrogen with ZERO CO2 emissions. A high pressure water electrolysis system, uniquely developed by Honda, produces hydrogen.  With no mechanical compressor, the system is nearly silent and highly energy efficient. Using Solar and grid power, the system is capable of producing 1.5kg of hydrogen within 24 hours which enables an FCX Clarity to run approximately 150km or 90 miles. Honda aims to further develop the system to offer clean energy sources for the home in the future.

l

March 29, 2012 - 6:00 AM No Comments

Runcorn energy firm ACAL unveils new fuel cell design in Tokyo

by Jane Clare, Runcorn and Widnes Weekly News

RUNCORN’S ACAL Energy has unveiled a compact, low-cost fuel cell stack design at the world’s largest exhibition and conference specialising in hydrogen and fuel cell technology.

ACAL attracted a lot of interest at the recent FC Expo in Tokyo as the company exhibited its FlowCath platinum-free fuel cell technology.
The new design is expected to be of interest in both automotive and stationary power applications.

The firm’s FlowCath technology is becoming well known for its approach to replacing the precious metal catalyst found in conventional fuel cells with a proprietary low-cost liquid catalyst.
Bob Longman, vice president of engineering at ACAL, said: “Asian markets, and Japan in particular, are important to us as we develop our commercialisation.

“Our compact 12kW design clearly addresses the need for higher-power fuel cell engines with reliability built into the design.”
The ACAL Energy stand at the FC EXPO was jointly organised with Sumitomo Corporation, which is an investor in the company. The FlowCath technology has the potential to significantly reduce the future cost for vehicle original equipment manufacturers, and system integrators planning to deploy fuel cells in mass markets. Last year the firm received a £1m investment by winning the Carbon Trust’s Polymer Fuel Cell Challenge, which aims to accelerate access to new markets for fuel cell products, such as hydrogen cars.

March 29, 2012 - 5:00 AM No Comments

Two-In-One Device Uses Sewage as Fuel to Make Electricity and Clean the Sewage

Source: American Chemical Society (ACS)

SAN DIEGO,— Scientists today described a new and more efficient version of an innovative device the size of a home washing machine that uses bacteria growing in municipal sewage to make electricity and clean up the sewage at the same time. Their report here at the 243rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific society, suggested that commercial versions of the two-in-one device could be a boon for the developing world and water-short parts of the U.S.

“Our prototype incorporates innovations so that it can process five times more sewage six times more efficiently at half the cost of its predecessors,” said Orianna Bretschger, Ph.D., who presented a report on the improved technology at the ACS meeting.

“We’ve improved its energy recovery capacity from about 2 percent to as much as 13 percent, which is a great step in the right direction. That actually puts us in a realm where we could produce a meaningful amount of electricity if this technology is implemented commercially. Eventually, we could have wastewater treatment for free. That could mean availability for cleaner water in the developing world, or in southern California and other water-short areas of the United States through the use of more wastewater recycling technologies,” she said.

Current wastewater treatment technology involves a number of steps designed to separate the solid and liquid components of sewage and clean the wastewater before it is released into a waterway. This often involves settling tanks, macerators that break down larger objects, membranes to filter particles, biological digestion steps and chemicals that kill harmful microbes. One estimate puts their energy use at 2 percent of overall consumption in the U.S.

Bretschger’s team at the J. Craig Venter Institute is developing one version of a so-called microbial fuel cell (MFC). Traditional fuel cells, like those used on the Space Shuttles and envisioned for cars in the future “hydrogen economy,” convert fuel directly into electricity without igniting the fuel. They react or combine hydrogen and oxygen, for instance, and produce electricity and drinkable water. MFCs are biological fuel cells. They use organic matter, such as the material in sewage, as fuel, and microbes break down the organic matter. In the process of doing so, the bacteria produce electrons, which have a negative charge and are the basic units of electricity. Electricity consists of a flow of electrons or other charges through a circuit.

The new MFC uses ordinary sewage obtained from a conventional sewage treatment plant. Microbes that exist naturally in the sewage produce electrons as they metabolize, or digest, organic material in the sludge. Bretschger found that microbes exist in the MFC community that might even break down potentially harmful pollutants like benzene and toluene that may be in the sludge.

An MFC consists of a sealed chamber in which the microbes grow in a film on an electrode, which receives their electrons. Meanwhile, positively-charged units termed protons pass through a membrane to a second, unsealed container. In that container, microbes growing on another electrode combine oxygen with those protons and the electrons flowing as electricity from the electrode in the sealed chamber, producing water or other products like hydrogen peroxide.

Bretschger said the MFC also is quite effective in treating sewage to remove organic material, and data suggest a decrease in disease-causing microbes.

“We remove about 97 percent of the organic matter,” she said. “That sounds clean, but it is not quite clean enough to drink. In order to get to potable, you need 99.99 percent removal and more complete disinfection of the water.” Still, she suggested their MFC might one day replace some of the existing steps in municipal wastewater treatment.

The group presented their first MFC last year. Since then, they increased the amount of waste their device could handle each week from 20 gallons to 100 gallons, trucked in from a local treatment plant near San Diego. They also replaced the titanium components with a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) frame and graphite electrodes. Because of that, the new fuel cell costs about $150 per gallon, half as expensive as their previous prototype. The group hopes eventually to bring the cost under $20 per gallon or less to be cost competitive with existing water treatment technologies.

Bretschger reported that the new device is also more than six times as efficient as its predecessor, turning 13 percent of the usable energy in the sludge into electricity. While this only generates a small current, Bretschger explained that a large device running at 20-25 percent efficiency could produce enough power to operate a conventional wastewater treatment plant. A typical sewage treatment plant may consume enough electricity to power 10,000 or more homes, according to some estimates.

The scientists acknowledged funding from the California State PIER EISG program and the San Diego Foundation Blasker Science and Technology award.

The American Chemical Society is a non-profit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 164,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

March 29, 2012 - 4:06 AM No Comments

DOE Offers Up to $2 Million for Hydrogen Fueling Stations Data Collection

DOE announced on March 13 that up to $2 million will be available this year to collect and analyze performance data for hydrogen fueling stations and advanced refueling components. DOE will track the performance and technical progress of innovative refueling systems to find ways to lower costs and improve operations. The funding is part of the department’s commitment to help industry bring hydrogen technologies into the mainstream market and provide new choices for vehicles that do not rely on gasoline.

Many automakers have announced production plans for fuel cell electric vehicles for retail sale or lease as early as 2015, and some states are investing in hydrogen fuel infrastructure to accommodate these vehicles. The new funding will support projects to monitor the performance of multiple hydrogen fueling stations and advanced components for up to five years. The data and resulting analyses from this initiative will also help hydrogen fueling equipment manufacturers improve the designs of existing systems.

DOE seeks applicants to this funding opportunity to test new refueling component technologies that could substantially reduce the cost of hydrogen. These include advanced compressor designs that could reduce the number or size of compressors required at commercial refueling sites; hydrogen delivery tanks with higher capacity and optimal tank pressure, which could reduce the need for compressors and the frequency of deliveries at refueling sites; and advanced electrolyzers that can produce hydrogen at higher pressures, potentially lowering the cost of hydrogen by reducing the amount of post-production compression required. Responses are due May 11. See the DOE Progress Alert and the Funding Opportunity Announcement on the Funding Opportunity Exchange website.

March 28, 2012 - 3:31 PM No Comments

Securing Support For Delphi Fuel Cell Project

By: Mary McCombs

Delphi, a leading supplier in the automotive industry, finds itself in a position to fight for federal funding for in an effort to save its fuel cell research project and more than 50 jobs.

Senator Charles Schumer paid a visit to Delphi in Henrietta Monday morning to talk about his push to secure federal dollars. Schumer says the funds are critical in completing the project, which in turn will play a key role in reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and developing a clean energy economy.

Over the last four years, Delphi has had the support of $22.6 million dollars from the U.S. Department of Energy. The company is developing fuel cell technology that is up to 50-percent more efficient than a diesel engine, produces far fewer emissions and can be run on a variety of fuels, but the administration’s proposed 2013 budget would eliminate funding and some 60 jobs in Henrietta.

Delphi has plans to mass produce fuel cells as early as 2014.

“2012 and 13 will be significant years for Delphi, as we complete our validation and prepare to launch a solid oxide fuel cell commercially,” said Mary Gustanski, director of engineering.

“Fuel cells is one of the three or four technologies that Rochester has a lead on almost everywhere else where we have to nuture and grow because five, ten, fifteen years from now, these technologies will bloosom,” said Schumer, (D).

Schumer is calling on his colleagues in the Senate to restore the funding so Delphi can carry the project into the production phase and not waste a decade of research.

March 28, 2012 - 12:27 PM No Comments

Fuel cells boost BirdEye endurance

Israel Aerospace Industries has doubled the endurance of its BirdEye-650 unmanned air system to 6h through the use of a fuel cell power pack.

The advance was demonstrated during recent test flights, and the company predicts that longer missions will be possible using the new technology.

Tommy Silberring, general manger of IAI’s Malat UAS division, says that the company has decided to use fuel cells on all its small air vehicle designs. The Panther tiltrotor design is also being tested with fuel cells, he adds.

Powered by three electric motors, the vertical take-off and landing Panther has a 65kg (143lb) take-off weight and a previously reported endurance of 6h. A Mini Panther derivative weighs 12kg and can be operated for 2h.

Silberring says Malat’s preferred fuel cell system uses highly reactive alkali metals to produce strong reducing agents and convenient sources for hydrogen. This approach is better than an alternative of carrying compressed hydrogen on the air vehicle, he notes.

IAI has a close cooperation with Singapore-based fuel cell developer Horizon Energy Systems.

March 28, 2012 - 6:41 AM No Comments

MTI suspends operations of its fuel cell division

COLONIE — Mechanical Technology Inc. said Tuesday that it is suspending the operations of MTI Micro, its fuel cell division in Colonie.

The announcement came at a time when MTI said it had increased annual revenue in 2011 to $10.3 million, a 22 percent increase over 2010, and had net income of $2.4 million, compared to 2010’s net loss of $1.8 million.

Most of the increase was due to another MTI subsidiary, MTI Instruments, which last year won a $4.1 million contract from the U.S. Air Force.

For years now, MTI has been cutting back on its fuel cell operations until it essentially ran out of money. It no longer has any employees devoted to the venture and may consider selling the associated patents.

— Larry Rulison

March 28, 2012 - 6:00 AM No Comments

FuelCell Energy Announces Closing of $34.5 Million Public Offering of Common Stock 23.0 Million Shares Issued at $1.50 Per Share

DANBURY, Conn., March 27, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — FuelCell Energy, Inc. (Nasdaq:FCEL) a leading manufacturer of ultra-clean, efficient and reliable fuel cell power plants, announced today the completion of an underwritten public offering of 23.0 million shares of its common stock, including 3.0 million shares sold pursuant to the full exercise of an over-allotment option previously granted to the underwriters. All of the shares were offered by FuelCell Energy at a price to the public of $1.50 per share. Total net proceeds to the Company were approximately $32.1 million. FuelCell Energy intends to use the net proceeds from this offering for growth capital and general corporate purposes. Lazard Capital Markets LLC acted as the sole book-running manager for the offering. Stifel Nicolaus Weisel acted as the co-lead manager and FBR Capital Markets & Co. acted as the co-manager for the offering. 

A shelf registration statement relating to the above-described securities was previously filed with and declared effective by the Securities and Exchange Commission. A preliminary prospectus supplement related to the offering was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The securities may be offered only by means of a prospectus, including a prospectus supplement, forming a part of the effective registration statement.  Copies of the final prospectus supplement together with the base prospectus relating to this offering can be obtained at the Securities and Exchange Commission’s website http://www.sec.gov or from Lazard Capital Markets LLC, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, 60th Floor, New York, NY 10020 or via telephone at (800) 542-0970. 

This press release does not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of offers to buy any securities of FuelCell Energy, and shall not constitute an offer, solicitation or sale of any security in any state or jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful prior to registration or qualification under the securities laws of any such state or jurisdiction.

About FuelCell Energy

Direct FuelCell® power plants are generating ultra-clean, efficient and reliable power at more than 50 locations worldwide.  With over 180 megawatts of power generation capacity installed or in backlog, FuelCell Energy is a global leader in providing ultra-clean baseload distributed generation to utilities, industrial operations, universities, municipal water treatment facilities, government installations and other customers around the world.  The Company’s power plants have generated more than one billion kilowatt hours of ultra-clean power using a variety of fuels including renewable biogas from wastewater treatment and food processing, as well as clean natural gas. 

March 28, 2012 - 5:31 AM No Comments

Developing the Next Generation of Fuel Cells

UConn’s Center for Clean Energy Engineering has developed a new manufacturing process for fuel cells that could make highly efficient, fuel cell-powered vehicles a viable commercial option in the next 10 years and possibly sooner.

Professor Radenka Maric developed the breakthrough process, which significantly lowers production costs while maintaining maximum efficiency. The process is not limited to hydrogen fuel cells. It can be applied in other industrial applications to extend the durability and efficiency of larger solid oxide fuel cells, used to heat and provide electricity to buildings, as well as lithium-ion batteries currently used in most battery-powered, plug-in, and hybrid cars.

Hydrogen fuel cells, also known as Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cells, are an attractive alternative fuel source for vehicles because of their high level of efficiency, low greenhouse gas emissions, and environmentally friendly operation. They have no moving parts, and their only emission is water and heat.

But one of the primary drawbacks to the widespread use of the cells is that they are expensive to manufacture because platinum, a rare and expensive metal used as catalyst material to create energy, is one of the cell’s main components.

At UConn’s clean energy engineering facility, Maric has developed a prototype manufacturing process for the fuel cells that uses 10 times less catalyst material with little waste. The low-temperature process allows for important industrial controls and flexibility, and can be easily scaled up for mass production.

“We are trying to reduce the processing steps, and that is going to reduce the cost of manufacturing,” says Maric, the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund Professor in Sustainable Energy in the School of Engineering’s Department of Chemical, Materials, and Biomolecular Engineering. “Many times, an industry starts working on something with the technologies they inherit. They may make the first generation of products, but they are always looking for that next generation that is better and cheaper. That is what we are focusing on – the next generation.”

Maric is internationally recognized for her work with fuel cells, thin films, and nanomaterials technology. Prior to coming to Storrs in 2010, Maric was a group leader and program manager at the National Research Council of Canada’s Institute for Fuel Cell Innovation. Earlier in her career, she was a senior scientist and team leader working on material development for fuel cells and batteries at the Japan Fine Ceramics Center in Nagoya, Japan. Maric has published more than 150 scientific papers and holds several patents.

Radenka Maric, Connecticut Clean Energy Fund Professor of Sustainable Energy, right, in the lab with Justin Roller, center, a graduate student and Mirela Dragan, a postdoctoral fellow. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

In response to industry demand for lower manufacturing costs, increased durability, and increased efficiency for fuel cells, Maric created a novel production process known as reactive spray deposition technology, or RSDT. In the process, small particles of catalyst material, such as platinum, are shot out of a nozzle in the form of a gas flame, where they are instantly cooled into atom-sized solids and sprayed onto the fuel cell membrane in a carefully calibrated fine layer.

The flame-based dispersion of the catalyst material allows it to bond to the membrane quickly, eliminating several binding and drying steps necessary in the current manufacturing process. By applying such a fine layer of catalyst material and by achieving greater control of the size and saturation rate of the particles, the RSDT process also limits waste.

The flexibility and control standards of the process further allow manufacturers to manage the thickness of the material layers that are applied, which is important in fuel cell technology. Material layers in fuel cells need to be thin enough to provide maximum conductivity when used in low-temperature hydrogen fuel cells, yet thick enough to prevent corrosion and maintain durability at the high temperatures at which solid oxide fuel cells operate.

The RSDT process can also be applied in the production of more advanced lithium-ion batteries. Similar to what it does with hydrogen fuel cells, RSDT’s direct dry application of the nanocoatings used inside the battery eliminates several binding steps in the current manufacturing process. Its high level of particle control and flexibility allows developers to use less material at less cost.

Industry interest

Several Connecticut companies, including Sonalysts Inc. of Waterford and Proton OnSite of Wallingford, are currently considering Maric’s production techniques for industrial and commercial applications.

Researchers at Sonalysts are helping the U.S. Office of Naval Research find ways to improve the safety and reliability of lithium-ion batteries through the use of nanotechnology and advanced thermal management. The company is also investigating new ways to improve the efficiency of Proton Exchange Membrane fuel cells by reducing the amount of the required catalyst.

“Professor Maric’s rapid spray deposition technology offers the potential of performance and reduction of manufacturing costs for both of these products,” says Armand E. Halter, vice president of applied sciences at Sonalysts. “Our initial tasking is directed to investigate the benefits of RSDT to enable catalyst deposition directly upon high-temperature membranes … at substantially lower weight loadings. … With good results, we anticipate expansion of this development work as the program moves forward.”

At Proton OnSite, a global hydrogen energy and technology company, Katherine Ayers, the company’s director of research, says she, too, is interested in Maric’s use of the reactive spray deposition technique.

“Our interest is in the potential for this technology to enable much lower amounts of expensive catalyst metals, while still providing mild processing conditions at the membrane surface to avoid damage to the membrane,” says Ayers. “We also believe this technology has the ability to substantially reduce labor and scrap, especially due to the short shelf-life of most inks currently used for electrode processing.”

March 27, 2012 - 12:24 PM No Comments

Proton Power Systems Announces Successful Integration of Proton Motor Hydrogen Fuel Cell Power Range Extender into Smith Electric Vehicle’s Newton Truck

Proton Power Systems plc (AIM:PPS) (”Proton”), a leading designer, developer and producer of Hydrogen (Other OTC: HYDGQ.PK) fuel cells and Hydrogen fuel cell electric hybrid systems, will unveil their power and range extender at the Hannover Industrial Fair 2012 and are pleased to announce the successful first full integration of its fuel cell power and range extender system (”REX“) into a Smith Electric Vehicle’s (”Smith”) commercial Newton Truck. This marks the completion of the project that began in 2010 to commercialize the power range extender and is a significant milestone for Proton.

The initial phase of the project was the integration of a REX system into the Smith ‘Edison (Hamburg: EDX.HM) ‘ light duty vehicle to demonstrate that the additional energy from Proton Power’s Hydrogen fuel cell system provided a significant increase to ‘Edison’s’ operational range. The second stage integrated the REX system into the Newton truck and will contribute an enhancement to the power and protection of the batteries to provide additional power during cold temperature start and to support air conditioning whilst working within the required range of the batteries.

After road testing, Smith (in cooperation with Proton) will commercially launch the REX system in the ‘Newton’, and will sell the first 20 vehicles to customers in the German market in 2012/2013.

Proton identified the ‘Newton’ truck as the most appropriate vehicle size in terms of volume business generation in the logistics markets. REX has been fully integrated into the Newton without reducing the payload or space. The benefits delivered by the system depend on the size of the integrated fuel cell system, the onboard storage capacity for hydrogen and the vehicle’s drive cycle. Overall, trial results are positive and in line with Proton’s expectations.

Commenting on this technological and commercial achievement, Faiz Francois Nahab Ph.D., CEO of Proton Power, said: “We are delighted with the success of the project to commercialize the power range extender, and we believe it will increase the addressable market and open new markets for electric powered light duty vehicles. The improved range of operation opens up exciting new possibilities as we can address a wider market segment. We are now ready to present the new vehicle to customers and they can test drive it. I wish to thank the whole team at Proton and Smith for their efforts in achieving this exciting milestone.”

March 27, 2012 - 6:16 AM No Comments

Next EU FCH Bus fleet project launched in Liguria

van-hool-san-remo

Under the azure skies of the Italian Riviera,  the latest EU Fuel Cell Hydrogen bus project,  High V.LO-City, Cities speeding up the integration of hydrogen buses in public fleets,  in European bus operations, was inaugurated by the president of the Provice of Imperia on March 23, 2012.  The five year project, with a total budget of 31,5 mln co-financed by the Fuel Cell Hydrogen Joint Undertaking Program (FCH JU)  involves three regions such as Flanders (V), Liguria (L) and ScOtland (O) who will  put each five  fuel cell hybrid  (FCH) buses  in daily service under different climate and busroute conditions. The president of the Province of Imperia, Luigi Sappa, indicated that the involvement of provinces liek the Provincia di Imperia in these large scale EU projects demonstrated that public transport authorities of all sizes start to recognize fuel cell hydrogen bus technology as a mature technology offering not only environmentnal but also economic advantages. Imperia will have Italy’s largest fuel cell hydrogen bus fleet next to Milan where as of this July three FCH buses will circle the city centre in daily service as part of the CHIC project.

March 27, 2012 - 6:13 AM No Comments

Swatch eyeing car that runs on hydrogen, oxygen: Chairman

GENEVA (AFP) – The world’s biggest watch company Swatch is looking at building a car that runs on hydrogen and oxygen, its chief executive and chairman Nick Hayek said in an interview published on Sunday.

‘We already have a test-car with a fuel cell,’ Mr Hayek told newspaper NZZ am Sonntag.

‘Liquid hydrogen and oxygen are used as fuel, producing very efficient combustion,’ he said, adding that the management board of Belenos – the Swatch subsidiary building the vehicle – has already driven around on the prototype. ‘What we don’t know is whether it would be cost-efficient to build,’ said Mr Hayek, the son of Swatch’s founder.

The fuel-cell vehicle is not Swatch’s first attempt at building a green car. In 1997, it teamed up with Daimler-Benz to build the two-seater Smart but the watch firm later sold its shares to Daimler-Benz.

March 27, 2012 - 5:07 AM No Comments

Butterfly Wings’ “Art of Blackness” Could Boost Production of Green Fuels

Butterfly wings may rank among the most delicate structures in nature, but they have given researchers powerful inspiration for new technology that doubles production of hydrogen gas — a green fuel of the future — from water and sunlight. The researchers presented their findings here today at the American Chemical Society’s (ACS’) 243rd National Meeting & Exposition.

SAN DIEGO — Butterfly wings may rank among the most delicate structures in nature, but they have given researchers powerful inspiration for new technology that doubles production of hydrogen gas — a green fuel of the future — from water and sunlight. The researchers presented their findings here today at the American Chemical Society’s (ACS’) 243rd National Meeting & Exposition.

Tongxiang Fan, Ph.D., who reported on the use of two swallowtail butterflies — Troides aeacus (Heng-chun birdwing butterfly) and Papilio helenus Linnaeus (Red Helen) — as models, explained that finding renewable sources of energy is one of the great global challenges of the 21st century. One promising technology involves producing clean-burning hydrogen fuel from sunlight and water. It can be done in devices that use sunlight to kick up the activity of catalysts that split water into its components, hydrogen and oxygen. Better solar collectors are the key to making the technology practical, and Fan’s team turned to butterfly wings in their search for making solar collectors that gather more useful light.

“We realized that the solution to this problem may have been in existence for millions of years, fluttering right in front of our eyes,” Fan said. “And that was correct. Black butterfly wings turned out to be a natural solar collector worth studying and mimicking,” Fan said.

Scientists long have known that butterfly wings contain tiny scales that serve as natural solar collectors to enable butterflies, which cannot generate enough heat from their own metabolism, to remain active in the cold. When butterflies spread their wings and bask in the sun, those solar collectors are soaking up sunlight and warming the butterfly’s body.

Fan’s team at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China used an electron microscope to reveal the most-minute details of the scale architecture on the wings of black butterflies — black being the color that absorbs the maximum amount of sunlight.

“We were searching the ‘art of blackness’ for the secret of how those black wings absorb so much sunlight and reflect so little,” Fan explained.

Scientists initially thought it was simply a matter of the deep inky black color, due to the pigment called melanin, which also occurs in human skin. More recently, however, evidence began to emerge indicating that the structure of the scales on the wings should not be ignored.

Fan’s team observed elongated rectangular scales arranged like overlapping shingles on the roof of a house. The butterflies they examined had slightly different scales, but both had ridges running the length of the scale with very small holes on either side that opened up onto an underlying layer.

The steep walls of the ridges help funnel light into the holes, Fan explained. The walls absorb longer wavelengths of light while allowing shorter wavelengths to reach a membrane below the scales. Using the images of the scales, the researchers created computer models to confirm this filtering effect. The nano-hole arrays change from wave guides for short wavelengths to barriers and absorbers for longer wavelengths, which act just like a high-pass filtering layer.

The group used actual butterfly-wing structures to collect sunlight, employing them as templates to synthesize solar-collecting materials. They chose the black wings of the Asian butterfly Papilio helenus Linnaeus, or Red Helen, and transformed them to titanium dioxide by a process known as dip-calcining. Titanium dioxide is used as a catalyst to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. Fan’s group paired this butterfly-wing patterned titanium dioxide with platinum nanoparticles to increase its water-splitting power. The butterfly-wing compound catalyst produced hydrogen gas from water at more than twice the rate of the unstructured compound catalyst on its own.

“These results demonstrate a new strategy for mimicking Mother Nature’s elaborate creations in making materials for renewable energy. The concept of learning from nature could be extended broadly, and thus give a broad scope of building technologically unrealized hierarchical architecture and design blueprints to exploit solar energy for sustainable energy resources,” he concluded.

The scientists acknowledged funding from National Natural Science Foundation of China (No.51172141 and 50972090), Shanghai Rising-star Program (No.10QH1401300).

The American Chemical Society is a non-profit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 164,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

To automatically receive news releases from the American Chemical Society contact newsroom@acs.org.

# # #

Abstract
We probe into the art of blackness in butterfly wings by measuring and modeling the antireflection behavior of the black butterfly wing scales. The results demonstrate Mother Nature’s excellent talent in devising creations with elaborate architectures and great light harvesting performance. Then as a typical prototype, artificial butterfly wing architecture TiO2 (ABWA-TiO2) has been produced using the original butterfly wings as templates and enhanced photocatalytic efficiency has been achieved. The hierarchical architecture borrowed from butterfly wing template works on several levels to enhance catalytic activities of Pt loaded TiO2 and enhance the hydrogen evolution rate by 2.3 times.This is due to advantages brought about by the hierarchical antireflection architecture.

March 26, 2012 - 12:09 PM No Comments

TÜV SÜD ensures safety of new hydrogen refuelling station

On 2 March 2012, Fraunhofer ISE opened a solar hydrogen refuelling station in Freiburg. A special feature of this refuelling station is that hydrogen is produced directly on site using photovoltaic electricity. TÜV SÜD looks after the safety of the refuelling station – from the review of the safety solutions to final approval before the refuelling station goes into service.

The new solar hydrogen refuelling station is a research and infrastructure project at the same time. It is firstly a reference project for future developments in the area of zero-emission mobility by Fraunhofer ISE and secondly a milestone in the establishment of a network of hydrogen refuelling stations in Baden-Wuerttemberg. Essentially, the solar refuelling station consists of a 30-bar pressure electrolyser, compressors to compress the hydrogen to 700 bar, intermediate storage tanks at two pressure levels and hydrogen pumps with dispensers. Part of the energy needed to produce and store the hydrogen is supplied by the photovoltaic systems installed on the roofs of the refuelling station and adjacent buildings.
The new solar hydrogen refuelling station is a research and infrastructure project at the same time. It is firstly a reference project for future developments in the area of zero-emission mobility by Fraunhofer ISE and secondly a milestone in the establishment of a network of hydrogen refuelling stations in Baden-Wuerttemberg. Essentially, the solar refuelling station consists of a 30-bar pressure electrolyser, compressors to compress the hydrogen to 700 bar, intermediate storage tanks at two pressure levels and hydrogen pumps with dispensers. Part of the energy needed to produce and store the hydrogen is supplied by the photovoltaic systems installed on the roofs of the refuelling station and adjacent buildings.
“We are very happy that we were given the opportunity of supporting the planning and placing into service of this hydrogen refuelling station”, says Otto Stertz, Head of the Freiburg branch office of TÜV SÜD Industrie Service GmbH. “This is a sign of confidence in our expertise and our experience from a host of innovative hydrogen projects.” The contract in Freiburg included review of the entire safety concept for the hydrogen refuelling station, final approval before the refuelling station was taken into service in accordance with Art. 14 of the German Ordinance on Industrial Safety and Health (Betriebssicherheitsverordnung), testing of the hydrogen tanks and the filling system, and explosion protection testing (ATEX) required by law.
The new hydrogen refuelling station marks another milestone in the establishment of a network of hydrogen refuelling stations in Germany. TÜV SÜD and Ludwig-Bölkow-Systemtechnik GmbH recently published the current statistics on the global development of hydrogen refuelling stations. The relevant information and interactive maps of Germany, Europe and the world can be found at http://www.netinform.de/H2/H2Stations

The new solar hydrogen refuelling station is a research and infrastructure project at the same time. It is firstly a reference project for future developments in the area of zero-emission mobility by Fraunhofer ISE and secondly a milestone in the establishment of a network of hydrogen refuelling stations in Baden-Wuerttemberg. Essentially, the solar refuelling station consists of a 30-bar pressure electrolyser, compressors to compress the hydrogen to 700 bar, intermediate storage tanks at two pressure levels and hydrogen pumps with dispensers. Part of the energy needed to produce and store the hydrogen is supplied by the photovoltaic systems installed on the roofs of the refuelling station and adjacent buildings.

The new solar hydrogen refuelling station is a research and infrastructure project at the same time. It is firstly a reference project for future developments in the area of zero-emission mobility by Fraunhofer ISE and secondly a milestone in the establishment of a network of hydrogen refuelling stations in Baden-Wuerttemberg. Essentially, the solar refuelling station consists of a 30-bar pressure electrolyser, compressors to compress the hydrogen to 700 bar, intermediate storage tanks at two pressure levels and hydrogen pumps with dispensers. Part of the energy needed to produce and store the hydrogen is supplied by the photovoltaic systems installed on the roofs of the refuelling station and adjacent buildings.

“We are very happy that we were given the opportunity of supporting the planning and placing into service of this hydrogen refuelling station”, says Otto Stertz, Head of the Freiburg branch office of TÜV SÜD Industrie Service GmbH. “This is a sign of confidence in our expertise and our experience from a host of innovative hydrogen projects.” The contract in Freiburg included review of the entire safety concept for the hydrogen refuelling station, final approval before the refuelling station was taken into service in accordance with Art. 14 of the German Ordinance on Industrial Safety and Health (Betriebssicherheitsverordnung), testing of the hydrogen tanks and the filling system, and explosion protection testing (ATEX) required by law.

The new hydrogen refuelling station marks another milestone in the establishment of a network of hydrogen refuelling stations in Germany. TÜV SÜD and Ludwig-Bölkow-Systemtechnik GmbH recently published the current statistics on the global development of hydrogen refuelling stations. The relevant information and interactive maps of Germany, Europe and the world can be found at http://www.netinform.de/H2/H2Stations

March 26, 2012 - 9:17 AM No Comments

SFC Energy delivers 50 lightweight alternative power sources to U.S. Army Operational Test Command

Brunnthal, Germany, and Fort Hood, TX, USA–SFC Energy AG, technology and market leader in mobile and remote power solutions based on fuel cells, announces the successful delivery of 50 FC 100 lightweight alternative power sources (LAPS) to the US Army Operational Test Command (OTC) at Fort Hood, Texas. The OTC, which is part of the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command (ATEC), tests equipment, systems and technology in realistic operational scenarios to meet mission critical requirements in harsh environments over extended periods of time. Designed as an alternative to current use of deep-cycle marine batteries, the FC 100 fuel cell generator is self contained and operates autonomously to provide sustained power on a continuous basis in support of operational test instrumentation. “Self-contained” in this context is defined to include the fuel cell, a lithium-ion start-up battery, and a fuel cartridge packaged in a ruggedized housing to meet military environmental requirements. The fuel cell is designed to operate on a continuous basis for not less than 100 hours before exchange of the fuel cartridge. The FC 100 fuel cells will be applied as automatic power supply for electrical systems on board vehicles in surveillance and observation scenarios, and as field charger and off-grid power supply for longer covert missions with no access to the grid. Initially, they will be the power source used by the U.S. Army Operational Test Command when testing new equipment during the Network Integration Evaluation at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. Eventually, the fuel cells may be operated in the field for a number of additional applications from running radio relay stations to recharging batteries.

Use of the FC 100 LAPS enables significant weight reduction of the power equipment carried by soldiers and inside vehicles resulting in longer missions, and increased flexibility, while at the same time saving material and logistic costs.

“The delivery of 50 FC 100 LAPS is a further milestone in our defense program”, says Dr. Peter Podesser, CEO of SFC Energy AG. “The adoption of our fuel cell products by the U.S. Army OTC reflects their technological strength and our ability to translate that strength into commercial products. The result in this case is a lightweight low detectable field charger for the use in or outside vehicles in demanding environments.”

SFC Energy offers an internationally successful portfolio of dedicated fuel cell generators for defense and security applications, among them the portable JENNY 600S and the covert power system JENNY ND Terra, the vehicle based EMILY 2200 and the integrated EMILYCube 2500 stand alone power source, the versatile EFOY Pro and EFOY ProCube fuel cell generators for security applications, and the SFC Power Manager.

Additional information on SFC Energy’s mobile, portable, stationary and field charger products in a wide range of defense, government, homeland security and professional security applications is available at www.sfc-defense.com.

March 26, 2012 - 8:51 AM No Comments

GreenCell, Inc. Announces a New Fuel Cell Stack Design That Utilizes Its Unique UltraTemp-C

PENN YAN, N.Y.– GreenCell, Incorporated (OTCBB:GCLL) today announced that it has just completed a new fuel cell stack design that utilizes its unique UltraTemp-C properties. The technology allows a reversal of standard flat plate SOFC designs and encapsulates the hydrogen side of the cell in an efficient bi-cell arrangement. This new capability leads to a stack design where individual cells can be replaced as well as improved safety through better control of hydrogen leakage. Coupled with low cost per kilowatt and the earlier announced new flexible seal materials a low cost of ownership can be achieved.

About GreenCell, Incorporated

GreenCell is engaged in a joint venture with SenCer Inc. to develop, commercialize and market SenCer’s UltraTempTM ceramic composite materials for Home and Transportation applications. GreenCell has identified multiple industries with significant commercial applications with potential revolutionary results. Some of the many applications for this technology are SOFC Fuel Cells, Igniters, Braking, Oxygen Sensors, and Ceramic Heaters.

March 26, 2012 - 7:26 AM No Comments

ITM Power to demonstrate HFuel at Hannover Messe

ITM Power has reached agreement with the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Fair to demonstrate the company’s HFuel on-site hydrogen refueling station at the Hannover Messe in April.

Operating HFuel in Germany is a key part of the company’s strategy to gain access to this important territory.

This is one of the last steps in achieving approval for HFuel to operate in Germany.

HFuel is intended to be used to refuel a fuel cell bus that will be circulating on the exhibition site for the week of the fair on 23-27 April.

At 9:56am: (LON:ITM) ITM Power share price was -1p at 69.5p

Story provided by StockMarketWire.com

March 26, 2012 - 6:45 AM No Comments

Nuclear power plants can produce hydrogen to fuel the ‘hydrogen economy’

SAN DIEGO–The long-sought technology for enabling the fabled “hydrogen economy” — an era based on hydrogen fuel that replaces gasoline, diesel and other fossil fuels, easing concerns about foreign oil and air pollution — has been available for decades and could begin commercial production of hydrogen in this decade, a scientist reported here today.

Speaking at the 243rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific society, Ibrahim Khamis, Ph.D., described how heat from existing nuclear plants could be used in the more economical production of hydrogen, with future plants custom-built for hydrogen production. He is with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, Austria.

“There is rapidly growing interest around the world in hydrogen production using nuclear power plants as heat sources,” Khamis said. “Hydrogen production using nuclear energy could reduce dependence on oil for fueling motor vehicles and the use of coal for generating electricity. In doing so, hydrogen could have a beneficial impact on global warming, since burning hydrogen releases only water vapor and no carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas. There is a dramatic reduction in pollution.”

Khamis said scientists and economists at IAEA and elsewhere are working intensively to determine how current nuclear power reactors — 435 are operational worldwide — and future nuclear power reactors could be enlisted in hydrogen production.

Most hydrogen production at present comes from natural gas or coal and results in releases of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. On a much smaller scale, some production comes from a cleaner process called electrolysis, in which an electric current flowing through water splits the H2O molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. This process, termed electrolysis, is more efficient and less expensive if water is first heated to form steam, with the electric current passed through the steam.

Khamis said that nuclear power plants are ideal for hydrogen production because they already produce the heat for changing water into steam and the electricity for breaking the steam down into hydrogen and oxygen. Experts envision the current generation of nuclear power plants using a low-temperature electrolysis which can take advantage of low electricity prices during the plant’s off-peak hours to produce hydrogen. Future plants, designed specifically for hydrogen production, would use a more efficient high-temperature electrolysis process or be coupled to thermochemical processes, which are currently under research and development.

“Nuclear hydrogen from electrolysis of water or steam is a reality now, yet the economics need to be improved,” said Khamis. He noted that some countries are considering construction of new nuclear plants coupled with high-temperature steam electrolysis (HTSE) stations that would allow them to generate hydrogen gas on a large scale in anticipation of growing economic opportunities.

Khamis described how IAEA’s Hydrogen Economic Evaluation Programme (HEEP) is helping. IAEA has designed its HEEP software to help its member states take advantage of nuclear energy’s potential to generate hydrogen gas. The software assesses the technical and economic feasibility of hydrogen production under a wide variety of circumstances.

The American Chemical Society is a non-profit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 164,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

To automatically receive news releases from the American Chemical Society contact newsroom@acs.org.

Abstract

The interest in hydrogen production using nuclear power plants as heat sources is growing rapidly in a number of nations. A considerable focus is being devoted to explore the option of current and future nuclear power reactors for hydrogen production. The use of current types of nuclear power reactors are foreseen as a short-term option for the production of hydrogen using low temperature electrolysis. Whereas the later one are seen as mid-term option as they will provide high temperature steam for the production of hydrogen using high temperature steam electrolysis or other promising thermochemical cycles.

In addition to publishing technical reports on status of nuclear hydrogen production, convening technical meetings to exchange information on prospects of nuclear hydrogen production as an integral part of the hydrogen economy, the IAEA is taking the first step in developing common cost assessment software called the Hydrogen Economic Evaluation Programme (HEEP). This paper gives a brief overview of the prospects of nuclear energy for hydrogen production including some progress made and challenges, as well as the IAEA activities on nuclear hydrogen production including a brief highlight of the IAEA Hydrogen Economic Evaluation Programme (HEEP).

March 26, 2012 - 6:30 AM No Comments

Canada mobilizes national research effort to reduce price of fuel cells

Hydrogen Bus

One of the largest research projects of its kind in Canada may overcome one of the biggest obstacles to the wide-scale production of fuel cell-powered vehicles—the cost.

Six Canadian companies have teamed up with 20 top fuel cell scientists and engineers from academia and government to develop a way to reduce by as much as 80%, if not eliminate, the platinum used in this next-generation of clean energy vehicles.

Canada is already a leader in both the science and commercialization of fuel cell technology. An industry-driven effort involving academia and government institutions is consolidating that expertise with a new $8.1-million project. Automotive Partnership Canada (APC) is contributing $5 million toward the research.

“Having all the major research and industry players working together is a huge value to us and to Canada,” says Dr. Stephen Campbell, Principal Scientist at Automotive Fuel Cell Cooperation (AFCC), a Burnaby, B.C.-based joint-venture private company owned by Daimler AG, Ford Motor Company and Ballard Power Systems that is developing fuel cell stacks for automotive applications.

Platinum is the most common catalyst used to accelerate the chemical process in proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells. It isn’t cheap, however. With the precious metal selling for about $1,500 per ounce ($48.2 per gram), the platinum catalyst alone for a compact 100-kilowat vehicle would cost between $2,300 and $3,700—which is considerable given that an entire 100-kilowatt gasoline combustion engine costs about the same.

PEM fuel cells are currently at a competitive price point for a number of near-term commercial markets, such as material handling (forklifts) and power generation for specific markets. In the bus market, the fuel cell now accounts for less than a third of the vehicle price. However, for long-term commercial viability in some applications, such as cars and portable electronics, the industry would benefit from something less expensive, better performing and more durable.

This project is leveraging Canada’s expertise in materials science and engineering, electrochemistry, theory and modeling to develop catalysts that use less platinum and to explore alternatives to platinum that perform as well but are less expensive. Companies expect to begin testing new prototypes within five years.

“There’s a lot of room to manoeuvre in terms of cost reduction. There may only be one troy ounce (31 grams) in a fuel cell stack, but that’s still worth over $1,600. If you reduced the amount of platinum by half, you would be saving about $800 per stack, which makes these vehicles more commercially viable,” says Dr. Campbell.

Shanna Knights, Manager of Research at Burnaby, BC-based Ballard Power Systems, says the goal for their heavy-duty transit bus fuel cell application is to be cost competitive with diesel-hybrid buses on an initial capital basis. The superior fuel efficiency offered by fuel cells currently results in significant operating cost and greenhouse gas emission reductions. Further cost reductions will lead more transit agencies around the world to choose fuel cell buses as their fleet vehicles.

“Getting that price down for vehicles is an important goal of the fuel cell industry,” says Ms. Knights. “It will also open up new markets where we’re just over the competitive price point now, including some distributed generation products (e.g. generators).”

The research teams will also work towards improving the durability and efficiency of the platinum catalyst layer, which for fuel cell manufacturers like Ballard and AFCC, would mean longer-lasting fuel stacks.

“If we can develop a deeper understanding of the processes that are occurring in PEM fuel cells, we will be able to tweak existing fuel cell components to obtain higher power density, as well as improve durability, which lowers the overall cost,” says Dr. Steven Holdcroft, a chemistry professor at Simon Fraser University, and the principal investigator on the project.

Training for future jobs
Canada’s competitiveness in the green economy will depend in large part on its ability to produce scientists and engineers with the right skill sets and experience in working with industry. Funding provided through APC and other sources will provide that opportunity to 90 graduate students and post-doctoral fellows over the course of the project. The demand for fuel cell experts is expected to increase as the industry ramps up over the next few years.

“Students will have a chance to work in industry labs where they can apply their theoretical learning to real world challenges,” adds Dr. Holdcroft. “This next generation of researchers is essential if Canada is to remain at the forefront in this field.”

March 22, 2012 - 9:39 AM No Comments

« Older Entries