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Fuel Cell Europe and VDMA Fuel Cells cooperate on commercialising fuel cells

Fuel Cell Europe, the European association of fuel cells developers and users, and VDMA Fuel Cells, a group of manufacturers of systems and components for fuel cells in the German Engineering Federation have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to foster commercialisation of fuel cells.

The acceleration of the commercialisation of fuel cell technologies in Germany and Europe could be achieved through joining forces when it comes to networking and lobbying for fuel cells, the fuel cell organisations say.

Fuel Cell Europe and VDMA Fuel Cells commit themselves to:

* Share information related to industrial, scientific, political and regulatory developments;
* Promote policies that facilitate access for fuel cell technologies to markets, including the reduction of national entry barriers throughout Europe ; and
* To introduce instruments for market deployment among policy makers, the fuel cell industry, research and the general public.

Jean-Marc Tixhon, Chairman of Fuel Cell Europe, says: “This is an important step to coordinate efforts in Europe and we intend to replicate such agreements with interested partners throughout Europe.”

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May 26, 2009 - 4:50 PM No Comments

Made in China: Volkswagen’s hydrogen fuel cell vehicle

Volkswagen fuel cell

On the heels of the Obama administration’s announcement that it will move away from hydrogen fuel cell funding, Volkswagen confirmed that it remains committed to building fuel cells for hydrogen-powered vehicles.

To stress the company’s point, we were invited to the California Fuel Cell Partnership in Sacramento to test-drive Volkswagen’s fuel cell prototypes.

Currently, the automaker’s fuel cell efforts are housed under the sheet metal of Chinese-spec Passat Lingyus, which were built primarily for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. VW gave scientists at Tongji University in China free rein to create, implement and refine the fuel cell components within them.

All 22 Passat Lingyus are roadworthy, with a range of 186 miles per hydrogen top-up. However, according to John Tillman, program manager of Volkswagen’s Advanced Powertrain Research Program, the fuel cells are “still at least a generation out from being ready for public consumption.” You don’t say?

Despite this, the fuel cell vehicles were a lot more functional than we’d expected. Electric cars are silent, clean diesels have a torquey burble, but the fuel cell vehicle quietly whirred down the road, the ride punctuated by occasional noises that sounded similar to carnival ride hydraulics or something a Foley artist would create for a Will Smith movie set five minutes into the future.

Acceleration is akin to an electric car, where power builds slowly but steadily due to the single-gear transmission. Stomping on the gas pedal, er, hydrogen pedal, won’t get you anywhere fast, but the Lingyus never feels dangerously slow.

Minor gripes: The air conditioning can’t be turned on unless you find repetitive grinding from the electric motor soothing, and the vibrations from the fuel cell, which spans the entire length of the cabin, transmit into the seats. Think of it as driving with surround sound. Undoubtedly, the engineers are more concerned with fuel cell durability than the odd noise and burp here and there.

There is clearly a long way to go before fuel cells will be ready for mainstream applications, and the question of their viability remains. Still, those at VW – and many other automakers – want it known they consider research into this technology a fundamental aspect of alternative fuel development. Whether it’s throwing good money at a problem solution, only time will tell.

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May 26, 2009 - 12:48 PM No Comments

Self Healing Seals Improves Reliability of Solid Oxide Fuel Cells

Solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) have great potential for stationary and mobile applications. Stationary use ranges from residential applications to power plants. Mobile applications include power for ships at sea and in space, as well as for autos. In addition to electricity, when SOFCs are operated in reverse mode as solid oxide electrolyzer cells, pure hydrogen can be generated by splitting water.

This drawing shows the placement of the glass seals in the solid oxide fuel cells
This drawing shows the placement of the glass seals in the solid oxide fuel cells

But SOFCs have had a flaw – the integrity of the seals within and between power-producing units. “The seal problem is the biggest problem for commercialization of solid oxide fuel cells,” said Peizhen (Kathy) Lu (http://www2.mse.vt.edu/People/Faculty/KLu/tabid/533/Default.aspx), assistant professor of materials science and engineering at Virginia Tech.

So she has invented a solution.

Composed of ceramic materials that can operate at temperatures as high as 1,800 degrees F (1,000 C), SOFCs use high temperature to separate oxygen ions from air. The ions pass through a crystal lattice and oxidize a fuel– usually a hydrocarbon. The chemical reaction produces electrons, which flow through an external circuit, creating electricity.

To produce enough energy for a particular application, SOFC modules are stacked together. Each module has air on one side and a fuel on the other side and produces electrons. Many modules are stacked together to produce enough power for specific applications. Each module’s compartments must be sealed, and there must be seals between the modules in a stack so that air and fuel do not leak or mix, resulting in a loss of efficiency or internal combustion.

Lu has invented a new glass that can be used to seal the modules and the stack. The self-healing seal glass will provide strength and long-term stability to the stack, she said.

The U.S. Department of Energy has funded Lu’s SOFC and solid oxide elecrolyzer cell research to the tune of $365,000 so far. “For solid oxide fuel cells to run, we need to have a fuel. Hydrogen is the cleanest fuel you can ever have since the by-product is water. However, there is no abundant source of hydrogen and it has to be made. The solid oxide elecrolyzer cell process for splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen is one very desirable way of doing it,” Lu said.

“Our interest is to work on the critical material problems to enable power generation and hydrogen production in large quantity and low cost,” said Lu, whose expertise includes material design and material synthesis and processing. (Learn more about her work at www.lu.mse.vt.edu)

“The invented glass seal materials are free of barium oxide, calcium oxide, magnesia, and alkali oxides, and in addition contain almost imperceptibly low amounts of boron oxide,” said Mike Miller senior licensing manager with Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties. “This is important because the seals must be both mechanically and chemically compatible with the different oxide and metallic cell components as they are repeatedly cycled between room and operating temperatures,” said Miller.

An article relevant to her research, which appeared in the Oct. 6, 2008 issue of the Journal of Applied Physics is “Network structure and thermal stability study of high temperature seal glass,” by Lu and Virginia Tech materials science and engineering doctoral student M. K. Mahapatra of Egra, Purba Medinipur, India.

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May 26, 2009 - 12:41 PM No Comments

Ceramic Fuel Cells launches modular generator product

Melbourne-based clean energy company Ceramic Fuel Cells Limited (ASX/AIM: CFU), a global leader in fuel cell development, today officially launched a new modular generator product.

The new unit – called BlueGen – is a ‘mini power station’ for homes and other buildings. It produces low emission electricity and hot water, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and saving on home energy bills.

About the size of a dishwasher, the BlueGen unit converts natural gas to electricity and heat via ceramic fuel cells.

The Company plans to make the BlueGen product available in Victoria from early 2010. The Company is in discussions with potential local manufacturing partners. The Company is also in discussions with potential purchasers of the BlueGen product in other markets including Europe and North America.

Compared to Victoria’s current brown coal electricity generators, each BlueGen unit can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 75% – or 18 tonnes per unit, per year.

The BlueGen product is being officially launched today by the Premier of Victoria, John Brumby, at Ceramic Fuel Cells’ head office in Melbourne. During the launch Managing Director Brendan Dow will demonstrate a working BlueGen unit, connected to a hot water unit producing electricity and hot water. V

ictorian Premier John Brumby will say today at the BlueGen launch: “Innovation is vital to Victoria’s response to climate change. Local innovations like Ceramic Fuel Cells’ technology will help to play an important part in reducing the carbon intensity of Victorian homes and businesses. Ceramic Fuel Cells’ technology is a great example of local business delivering sustainable, ‘green’ jobs and exports for our State.”

“Importantly, our units are far more efficient and produce far less carbon dioxide and other emissions than traditional electricity generators like coal-fired power stations,” said Ceramic Fuel Cells’ Managing Director Brendan Dow. “If our units replaced just 7% of Victoria’s electricity from brown coal, the State would achieve the Federal Government’s target of a 5% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, well before 2020. Currently, coal-fired power stations produce 95% of Victoria’s electricity.”

Ceramic Fuel Cells has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with VicUrban to showcase the BlueGen units in VicUrban housing developments. Subject to agreeing final terms, Ceramic Fuel Cells will install the first BlueGen unit in VicUrban’s Sustainable and Affordable Living Centre in Dandenong to be opened towards the end of 2009, and will install up to three more demonstration units in other VicUrban developments next year.

VicUrban is the Victorian Government’s sustainable urban development agency. One of Victoria’s largest residential land developers, VicUrban has a diverse portfolio of projects including house and land developments in metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria.

VicUrban’s current portfolio of projects includes over 50,000 new homes over the next 20 years. VicUrban is a leader in demonstrating sustainable technologies for homes, to encourage broader market awareness and commercial take up of innovative and energy saving products.

Pru Sanderson, CEO of VicUrban explained their long standing commitment to sustainable energy. “Our Aurora project in Epping, which now has over 1000 residents, was the first 6 star energy efficient community in Australia. VicUrban is delighted to be partnering with a Victorian business to help promote a product which could become the next generation of sustainable energy technology in Australian homes” Ms Sanderson said.

The Company’s modelling of the Victorian market shows that widespread deployment of the BlueGen product has significant potential benefits:

  • The BlueGen units can generate electricity more than twice as efficiently as the current Victorian power grid, at a cost of up to 40% cheaper than the current average retail electricity price, which could save up to $1,100 off the average home’s annual energy bill.
  • When mass produced, the BlueGen products are forecast to cost around $8,000 each with a payback period of seven years and a product lifetime of 15 years.
  • The BlueGen unit produces up to 75% less carbon dioxide emissions than Victoria’s current coal-fired generators – saving up to 18 tonnes per unit per year.
  • Over the course of a year each 2kW BlueGen unit can produce up to 17,000 kilowatt hours of power – more than twice the electricity needed to power an average Victorian home.
  • The unit also produces heat, to make up to 200 litres of hot water a day, enough to meet the hot water needs of the average Victorian home.
  • The unit has an overall efficiency of up to 85%, compared to about 25% efficiency of Victoria’s current coal-fired power stations.
  • The BlueGen unit also uses up to 95% less water than Victoria’s current coal-fired power stations to generate the same amount of electricity.

Mr Dow says his company’s technology could play a big part in reducing Victoria’s greenhouse gas emissions. “Victoria’s greenhouse gas emissions have increased by 6% since 2000 and the State’s energy demands are forecast to increase by 50% by 2030,” he says. “By 2050, Victoria is targeting a 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2000 levels. We believe our technology will play an important part in the future of electricity production.”

Rupert Posner, Director of The Climate Group, said: “Ceramic Fuel Cell’s clean domestic power station is proof of the new jobs that can be created by a low carbon economy. There is a whole host of existing and emerging technologies that will enable us to make substantial cuts in greenhouse gas emissions at low cost and maintain, indeed enhance, our quality of life.”

Dr David Brockway, Chief of CSIRO’s Energy Technology division, said: “CSIRO is delighted that a technology that originated in CSIRO research has now progressed to the stage where it has been converted into a combined heat and power system. This is a major achievement for an Australian company and CSIRO congratulates Ceramic Fuel Cells on this success.”

In addition to its modular BlueGen product, Ceramic Fuel Cells continues to develop fully integrated micro CHP products with some of the world’s leading utility and appliance partners in Europe and Japan, including E.ON, GdF/Suez, EWE and Paloma (maker of the Rheem and Solahart brands). The BlueGen product is an additional offering for market segments that may not require a fully integrated product.

From this afternoon (Melbourne time) a presentation of the BlueGen launch will be available at www.cfcl.com.au/news,  and a webcast interview with Managing Director Brendan Dow will be available at www.cfcl.com.au/webcasts.

Specifications of the BlueGen product are also available at www.cfcl.com.au/BlueGen

For further information please contact:

Ceramic Fuel Cells
Andrew Neilson
Tel: +613 9554 2300

AIM Nomad and Broker
Nomura Code Securities

Juliet Thompson, Chris Golden
Tel: +44 (0) 207 776 1200

Australia Media enquiries
Richard Allen
Oxygen Financial Public Relations
Tel: + 613 9915 6341 or 0403 493 049

About Ceramic Fuel Cells Limited:

Ceramic Fuel Cells Limited is a world leader in developing solid oxide fuel cell technology to provide highly efficient and low-emission electricity from widely available natural gas and renewable fuels. The company is developing micro combined heat and power and distributed generation units that generate electricity and heat for homes and other commercial buildings. Ceramic Fuel Cells is developing products with leading appliance partners and utility customers in Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Japan. Headquartered in Melbourne, and with operations in the UK and Germany, the Company is listed on the London Stock Exchange AIM market and the Australian Securities Exchange (code CFU). www.cfcl.com.au

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May 26, 2009 - 12:34 PM No Comments

UltraCell Adds $3.8 Million in New Funding

LIVERMORE, CA– UltraCell Corporation, a leading producer of fuel cells for mobile power applications, today announced $3.8 million in new funding.

UltraCell will use the new capital to scale manufacturing at the company’s facility in Dayton, Ohio — the first and only volume-production micro fuel cell facility in North America — and expand sales, marketing and field trial testing of its flagship product, the UltraCell XX25™ portable fuel cell. Recognized as the first commercial fuel cell system to be authorized by the U.S. Military for portable devices, the XX25 is designed to run a ruggedized laptop computer for up to eight hours on a single 250cc fuel cell cartridge. The system can also be configured for weeks of runtime in stationary applications such as remote video monitoring, surveillance and communications equipment.

The round of new funding was led by existing investors BASF Venture Capital GmbH, OnPoint Technologies, Espirito Santo Ventures (ES Ventures) and Miami Valley Venture Fund. To date, UltraCell has attracted $30 million in investment since it was founded in 2002.

“Over the past year we have seen an increase in field use of our XX25 product and success in building our products in our Dayton facility,” said UltraCell CEO Keith Scott. “Our founding vision was to bring fuel cells out of the labs and into mass manufacturing — and we’re thrilled to be succeeding in this goal. This new funding will help us expand our market presence significantly, and enable us to respond even more quickly to increased market demands.”

“UltraCell has impressed BASF, pushing the boundaries of next-generation power in innovative ways,” said Keith Gillard, Principal, BASF Venture Capital America, Inc. “UltraCell is the premiere example of fuel cell technology realizing new markets by enabling new products, rather than mere incremental improvement over incumbent technologies. Increased market penetration and proven manufacturing capabilities distinguish UltraCell in the fuel cell industry.”

About BASF Venture Capital GmbH BASF Venture Capital GmbH was established in 2001 as a wholly owned subsidiary of BASF Future Business GmbH, Ludwigshafen, Germany and participates in start-up companies and funds. In doing so, it focuses on companies with innovative business models and technologies in which chemistry is an important key to success. Additional information is available at www.basf.com.

About OnPoint Technologies

OnPoint Technologies is a strategic venture investor with a mission to discover, invest in and support companies at the intersection of Army and commercial marketing needs. OnPoint is funded by the U.S. Army and acts as a bridge between the Army and the innovation community (entrepreneurs, established companies, universities, researchers, and venture capitalists). For more information, please visit www.onpoint.us.

About Espirito Santo Ventures (ES Ventures)

Espirito Santo Ventures (ES Ventures) is a venture capital firm of Espirito Santo Group, providing equity financing, management support and market expertise to promising companies with talented and ambitious entrepreneurs who have developed innovative products, services and business models. For more information, visit www.es-ventures.com.

About Miami Valley Venture Fund II (MVVF II)

Miami Valley Venture Fund II (MVVF II) is a geographically targeted early- and growth-stage fund investing in companies located in the 12-county region surrounding Dayton, Ohio. The Fund is one of three funds managed by the Dayton Development Coalition, its General Partner, and River Cities Capital, its Investment Manager. The Coalition is a collaborative effort of private and public sector organizations and individuals focused on the attraction and growth of technology companies in the Dayton Region, with a primary emphasis on emerging technologies in aerospace, information technology/data management, advanced materials and human sciences.

About UltraCell

UltraCell is a leading producer of fuel cell systems for mobile devices. With an exclusive license with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories for micro fuel cell technology, the company has developed new technologies and intellectual property in the field of methanol-based fuel cells. Its patented, award-winning portable fuel cell, the XX25™, achieved Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 7 status, a significant U.S. Army milestone and certification for military use and commercial production. For more information about UltraCell, please visit http://www.ultracellpower.com/.

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May 26, 2009 - 12:31 PM No Comments

Rail Conference to Feature U.S. DOT official

A U.S. Department of Transportation official will be keynote speaker at the fifth International Hydrail Conference, June 11-12 at UNC Charlotte.

Hydrail is emerging technology that uses hydrogen fuel cells instead of diesel-electric generators to power rail transit, such as streetcars and commuter rail. Supporters of the technology in Mooresville, who hoped hydrogen could power a light rail line to Charlotte, have brought previous international conferences to Charlotte and Salisbury.

This year’s conference, to be hosted by UNCC’s Charlotte Research Institute, will highlight the trend away from overhead electrical power for streetcars. The keynote speaker will be Walter Kulyk, director of the Office of Mobility Innovation at the Federal Transit Administration.

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May 26, 2009 - 12:18 PM No Comments

Border to Border: Fuel Cell Vehicles Demonstrate the Future of Transportation from California to Canada

Beginning today, Americans and Canadians will have a unique opportunity to see what the transportation future holds with the launch of a nine-day caravan of clean, efficient hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

The California Air Resources Board, California Fuel Cell Partnership (CaFCP), Powertech Labs (on behalf of British Columbia), the National Hydrogen Association and the U.S. Fuel Cell Council are organizing the second annual Hydrogen Road Tour 09. Vehicles from seven major automakers will turn heads as they make the trek from border to border. The Tour will stop in 28 cities along the route, with special focus on the communities where hydrogen-powered technology—passenger vehicles, transit buses and hydrogen stations—will likely enter the market first.

“The Hydrogen Road Tour showcases the progress of hydrogen programs in the U.S. and Canada,” said CaFCP executive director Catherine Dunwoody. “These vehicles are comfortable, perform great, refuel in minutes and will travel the distance with zero tailpipe emissions, zero petroleum and greatly reduced greenhouse gases. Thousands of people will get a chance to try these vehicles for themselves.”

H2RT will depart early in the morning today, Tuesday, May 26 from the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista and arrive at the Hydrogen + Fuel Cells Conference in downtown Vancouver in the morning of Wednesday, June 3. The caravan will stop at 28 locations to provide people with a first-hand experience with the vehicles and fuel. High-tech fuel cell vehicles from Daimler, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai-Kia, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen—including several new models—will make the journey, and will be joined by fuel cell transit buses at several stops. In addition to using many of the existing stations along the route, Air Products and Powertech Labs are providing mobile refueling stations and hydrogen fuel.

“Fuel cell technology is on the verge of becoming a practical alternative to burning gasoline,” said Air Resources Board Chairman Mary D. Nichols. “This year’s road tour demonstrates how far the industry has come and how near we are to putting these cars in the public’s hands.”

Currently, 250 zero-emission fuel cell vehicles have been placed on California’s roads, building anticipation for plans released by automakers, energy companies and government agencies to collectively roll out 4,300 passenger vehicles to customers in California by 2014. In addition, transit agencies operate fuel cell buses, including BC Transit in Vancouver which will operate a fleet of 20 fuel cell buses for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. Cities, businesses and military bases in California, Oregon and Washington are implementing other projects that use fuel cells, including forklifts and stationary power.

About the California Fuel Cell Partnership
CaFCP is a public-private collaboration of organizations including auto manufacturers, energy providers, fuel cell technology companies and government agencies working together to promote the commercialization of fuel cell vehicles. Hydrogen and fuel cell vehicle technology are a central part of a long-term strategy for air quality, climate protection and energy diversity.

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May 26, 2009 - 12:14 PM No Comments

Ceres Power Meets Targets; Gets GBP2M From Centrica

LONDON (Dow Jones)–AIM-listed fuel cell module company Ceres Power Holdings PLC (CWR.LN) said Tuesday it will receive GBP2 million from Centrica PLC (CNA.LN) unit British Gas after testing of its combined heat and power unit met all of the targets under the Alpha phase.

The 1-kilowatt CHP unit, which produces heat and electricity and is more efficient than conventional boilers, was tested on mains natural gas under representative residential operating conditions.

“This significant achievement underpins the potential mass market opportunity of the Ceres CHP product for the U.K. residential market,” said Gearoid Lane, Managing Director of British Gas New Energy.

Analysts said completion of the Alpha phase was positive news for the company as it continues developing its product, but cautioned that there were still challenges ahead.

“It’s important to note that the launch of the product is expected to be in the second half of 2011, thus it still has many hurdles to overcome before it is adopted in the residential market,” said Ambrian clean technology analyst Gurpreet Gujral.

British Gas witnessed key tests and verified data during the Alpha phase trials along with an independent third party.

“The successful completion of the Alpha phase is a very significant achievement and we are now investing in the company’s operational capabilities to deliver the residential CHP product in volume,” said Ceres Power CEO Peter Bance.

The company has already begun design and procurement for the Beta phase of the CHP program, which will produce Beta CHP units for in-field trials.

Preparation of the new manufacturing plant in Horsham, Southern England, is underway with operations scheduled to begin in the second half of 2009. The company is on track to launch the residential CHP product with British Gas in the second half of 2011.

Ceres Power already has a supply and distribution agreement with British Gas for 37,500 units and a second agreement with Calor Gas Ltd. for CHP units that operate on liquefied petroleum gas.

Ceres Power’s fuel cell modules convert natural gas directly into electricity and heat using a clean and efficient electrochemical process.

The module is part of a special boiler, or CHP unit, which is more energy efficient and produces less carbon dioxide.

British Gas, which has a 9.999% stake in the company, has said the fuel cells have the potential to reduce a typical customers household emissions by 2.5 tons a year and reduce domestic energy bills by several hundred pounds.

At 0959 GMT, Ceres shares were up 4.8% or 8 pence, at 180 pence, outperforming AIM.

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May 26, 2009 - 12:08 PM No Comments

Research on Hazelnuts Might Reap Big Rewards

May 26–PLATTSMOUTH, Neb. — If the folks at the Arbor Day Foundation go a little nutty talking about hazelnut trees, it’s because they just might be on the verge of producing a phenomenal hybrid.

Research by the foundation, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Rutgers State University of New Jersey and Oregon State is on track to develop a second-generation hazelnut hybrid with a variety of commercial benefits.

Tom Molnar, an assistant professor of plant biology at Rutgers, said the hybrid hazelnuts could be available for commercial planting within a decade or two.

“This program could take 15 or 20 years, but I know that we will have plants that can be produced for commercial use and be grown in a variety of climates,” Molnar said. “They will also be more sustainable than soybeans.”

Molnar had been working on hazelnut hybrids on his own for about 10 years before joining forces with UNL, Oregon State and the Arbor Day Foundation.

“The first step is to find one or two good plants and see how they do in a lot of different locations, from New Jersey to Nebraska, up into Minnesota and across the Northeast.”

Only the Wilmette Valley in Oregon grows commercially viable hazelnut trees in the United States. The Oregon growers produce 99 percent of the U.S. crop but meet only 3 percent to 5 percent of the world demand.

Determining the hybrid with the highest yield per acre would be next, he said.

Research has shown that the hazelnut tree can provide food for humans as well as livestock, that it has potential as a bio-fuel and is an easily sustainable crop that doesn’t require large amounts of energy to grow.

Doug Farrar, vice president of the Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, stood on a wind-swept hill recently outside Plattsmouth as second generation hazelnut hybrids were planted on Horning State Farm, which is managed by the Nebraska Forest Service.

Farrar said hazelnuts produce twice as much oil as soybeans and have many cooking uses.

They produce a cooking oil, he said, that has a similar composition to extra virgin olive oil but without the fatty acids.

The hazelnut also has the potential to help solve energy problems because it has a dense shell that makes excellent fuel and, when burned, creates hydrogen that could be used for fuel cells in electric cars.

Not having to plant the crop every year is another factor in the hazelnut’s favor.

A producer doesn’t have to use the energy to till the soil, Farrar said.

“We have put a lot of time — over 10 years — into this project,” Farrar said. “We would not have put all this energy into the project if we did not believe it had great benefits for agriculture and the environment.”

The hope is that this and subsequent generations of hybrids will be hearty enough to withstand native diseases and Nebraska’s climate while producing hazelnuts in quantities suitable for commercial sale.

The challenge is to crossbreed those native hazelnut trees grown in Oregon with hardier eastern European varieties.

Scott Josiah, director of the Nebraska Forest Service, is in charge of about two acres of hazelnut hybrids at the Horning farm near Plattsmouth. Another 9 1/2 acres of hazelnuts are being grown at Arbor Farm and two more acres at UNL’s East Campus.

Josiah carefully monitors the various hybrids to determine which version can produce the biggest, best and most abundant nuts.

“Our first-generation hybrids are already doing very well in terms of survival,” Josiah said. “The thinking is that if they can survive in Nebraska, they can survive anywhere.”

Farrar said the Arbor Day Foundation is already receiving inquiries from farmers eager to plant hazelnut trees. More than 90,000 trees have been distributed to Arbor Day Foundation members to grow and observe.

“We don’t want to make any promises before we can deliver,” Farrar said, “but we feel strongly that it’s only a matter of time and we will have a new crop that can be grown even on less than the best soil and produce a wonderful product.”

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May 26, 2009 - 12:04 PM No Comments

South Korea to Spend Big on New Growth Engines

SEOUL, May 26, 2009 — South Korea said Tuesday it plans to spend 24.5 trillion won (US$19.4 billion) in the next five years to develop “star brands” that can fuel the country’s long-term economic growth.

The plan calls for concerted efforts to build up 62 star brands in 17 key growth sectors such as green technology, high-tech convergence and value-added services, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said.

“Star brands refer to products and technologies that have the highest potential to grab future markets and create new businesses opportunities down the line,” said Cho Seok, a deputy minister.

The state support aims to boost the country’s competitiveness in advanced fuel cells, clean transportation, convergence, robotics, biotech, nuclear energy and advanced information technology by 2013, he said.

Funds will also be allocated to bolster competitiveness in healthcare and software and organize industry events.

“South Korea currently does not lead in these areas, but because they are new and cutting-edge there is little technological gap with other advanced industrialized countries,” the official said.

He stressed the government and business community will share R&D information and detailed plans for full-scale production.

The growth plan could help create 700,000 new jobs over the next 10 years and establish 300 small and medium enterprises by the target year, the ministry said (Yonhap)

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May 26, 2009 - 11:58 AM No Comments

Brookhaven wins clean energy research grants

Brookhaven National Laboratory will be the site of a clean energy research project that scientists believe will help lower the cost of fuel cells, federal officials have announced.

The program, which will cost about $3.8 million in federal funds, is also expected to speed up the introduction of fuel cells into the marketplace, lab and federal Department of Energy officials said.

Fuel cells are devices that produce electricity by combining an oxidant and a fuel, such as oxygen and hydrogen. Some scientists view fuel cell technology as more efficient than traditional burning fuel, but fuel cells are not yet widely regarded as cost effective.

Jim Misewich, an associate lab director for basic energy sciences at Brookhaven National Lab, said the new research project “could make them much more practical because they would be cheaper.”

The lab plans to use “a range of fuels” in its research under the new program, he said.

“Today most of them are using pure hydrogen. We could develop ways to use a more wide variety of fuels,” he said.

The federal Department of Energy will phase the funding for the project over four years, beginning with about $400,000 this year, officials said.

In other funding news, Brookhaven Lab is set to receive one of five grants awarded to energy research centers around the state, including one at Stony Brook University.

The centers will receive $95.5 million over five years from the federal government, to be matched by state grants totaling $10.55 million. Stony Brook will receive $17 million from the federal government and $1.7 million from the state. Brookhaven gets $25 million from the federal government and $2.5 million from the state.

Paul DeCotis, New York’s deputy energy secretary, said the effort would create 300 to 400 jobs in the state over the five-year grant period. At Stony Brook, much of the research will focus on ongoing projects with lithium ion batteries, including their use in transportation and diagnostics, said Stony Brook professor Clare Grey.

Public officials lauded the research as a method of attracting skilled labor to Long Island.

“Brookhaven National Laboratory will continue to play a leading role in ending America’s dangerous dependence on Middle Eastern oil and creating the clean energy economy of the future,” said Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton), whose district includes the Upton lab, in a statement.

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May 26, 2009 - 11:47 AM No Comments

New Report Shows Hydrogen Vehicles Will Drive Change

Washington DC–Today, the National Hydrogen Association released a new report called the “Energy Evolution:  An Analysis of Alternative Vehicles and Fuels to 2100.”  The Energy Evolution shows that a scenario which initially includes a mix of alternative vehicles, and is later dominated by hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles sales is the only way to simultaneously cut U.S. greenhouse gas pollution by 80% below 1990 levels; reach petroleum quasi-independence by mid-century; and eliminate nearly all controllable air pollution by the end of the century.  The report also shows that an expansion of hydrogen stations is more affordable than most people think.

In all, the report compares more than 15 of the most promising fuel and vehicle alternatives over a 100-year period, using data and models to create scenarios where one fuel and vehicle alternative becomes dominant in the mix of vehicles over time. The scenarios evaluate the performance and viability of the 15+ alternatives in terms of greenhouse gases, oil imports, urban air pollution and societal costs.

A task force of experts conducted the “Energy Evolution” analysis under the leadership of Xcel Energy’s Frank Novacheck, with significant input from H2Gen Innovation’s Dr. Sandy Thomas.  To verify the objectivity of the methods and conclusions, experts from organizations such as the U.S Department of Energy, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and U.S. Fuel Cell Council have reviewed the report.

Quite honestly, the results surprised even us, but the data speak for themselves. They show quantitatively why it is absolutely critical that we continue significant efforts make hydrogen vehicles and stations more widely available to consumers,” said Jeff Serfass, President of the National Hydrogen Association.

Most people forget that hydrogen technologies like fuel cells are compatible with the other alternatives.  For example, development of plug-in hybrid technology advances the development of the same electric drive technology used in hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles.  So the point we want to make today is that we need to work on all the best alternatives together, not one as a replacement for another.  And hydrogen is essential to get us to the desired environmental and energy endpoints.”

The task force assumed success for the various alternative vehicle technologies and fuels, including advancements in batteries, commercialization of non-corn biofuels, “greening” of the electric grid and increased efficiencies in conventional combustion engines.  These assumptions were made to fairly compare the hydrogen vehicle scenario to fully mature alternative technologies.  The conclusions of the “Energy Evolution” complement previous studies such as the National Research Council’s “Transitions to Alternative Transportation Technologies-A Focus on Hydrogen” and the California Fuel Cell Partnership’s “Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle and Station Deployment Plan: A Strategy for Meeting the Challenge Ahead.”
To obtain a copy of the full report or the four-page brief, visit:

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May 2, 2009 - 4:47 PM Comments (3)

“F-Cell” 2009: Fuel cells in the market – Japan shows the way

The ninth forum for producers and users of fuel cells, “f-cell”, on September 28 and 29, 2009, in Stuttgart will be presenting the entire bandwidth of stationary, mobile, and portable fuel cell applications. Focal points in 2009: “Fuel cells in vehicles.” Also: “How Japan is driving forward the market entry of fuel cells.”

Stuttgart (eos) –  On September 28 and 29, 2009, Stuttgart will once again become the hub of the international “fuel cell community”: The ninth specialist forum “f-cell” –  congress and trade fair – will show the status of development and marketing of stationary, mobile, and portable fuel cell applications. “The focus this year will be on fuel cells in vehicles, and another main aspect will be activities in Japan,” explains Peter Sauber, managing director of the “Peter Sauber Agentur Messen und Kongresse GmbH”, which is organizing this industry-specific event jointly with the “Wirtschaftsförderung Region Stuttgart GmbH (WRS – regional economic promotion).

Main topic: Japan
The event organizer has intensified his good contacts to Japan, enabling him to acquire interesting speakers for the f-cell, including Nissan and Daihatsu, even at this early stage. “Japan is one of the countries that are setting the pace in the deployment of fuel cells,” says Sauber. He recently organized a joint booth for German companies at the FC Expo in Tokyo. “The trade fair with a total of 450 exhibitors made clear that fuel cell technology has already found a place in the everyday life of a great many companies in Japan. That creates the critical mass that enables market entry for the technology, placing Japan far ahead of us.” In order to provide f-cell visitors with comprehensive insight into Japanese activities, one or two speakers from Japan will make presentations in each of the specific f-cell forums. “We will schedule the presentations in such a way that those who are interested can switch between the forums and hear all the Japanese lectures,” explains the event organizer, who is also organizing a one-week delegation trip to Baden-Württemberg for representative from Japanese companies and research facilities, which will include not only the “f-cell”.

Information on “f-cell”
Those who are interested can find more information on the “f-cell” on the internet at: www.f-cell.de The Peter Sauber Agency can be reached by telephone at 0711-656960-50. The current program for the “f-cell” 2009 will be available on the event homepage from around the end of May onwards.

Stuttgart, March 2009


“f-cell” event organizer Peter Sauber (left), managing director of the Peter Sauber Agentur Messen und Kongresse GmbH, maintains personal contact to speakers and visitors. In Japan, he recently acquired exciting lecture topics for the “f-cell” 2009 on September 28 and 29 in Stuttgart.
Photo: Peter Sauber Agency / Hindley

The development and marketing of fuel cell applications in Japan will be one of the focal issues of this year’s specialist forum f-cell on September 28 and 29 in Stuttgart. Last year, Takehiko Kato (photo), President of the Interlink Corporation in Tokyo, Japan, clearly illustrated the pioneering role of his country with regard to stationary applications.
Photo: Peter Sauber Agency / Fabry

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May 2, 2009 - 4:14 PM Comment (1)

CTC Donates Hydrogen Fuel Cells

Phase one is complete….. We found some hydrogen fuel cells – thanks to CTC (Concurrent Technologies of Johnstown Pa). The good folks at CTC believe in Project GreenHouse and have graciously donated 3 fuel cells to the cause. We will be working with an operational 1kw and 2kw hydrogen fel cell and a 1kw parts fuel cell that no longer works (perfect for learning about their nuts and bolts).
Next step, locate some good solar and wind people to help get the Alternative Energy Learning Center off the ground.

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May 2, 2009 - 12:14 PM No Comments