The Estonian fuel cell manufacturer Elcogen was named the winner of the Award for Innovation at Europe’s biggest and most prestigious business competition European Business Awards on 4 December.
Elcogen is the manufacturer of the world’s most efficient fuel cells, which make it possible to generate electricity without the need for internal combustion. The production of electricity by means of fuel cells is efficient and safe, and does not release pollutants. In addition, solid oxide cells can be used to produce environmentally friendly hydrogen, which is considered a highly promising approach in the field of energy storage. Elcogen technology enables the world’s most advanced industries to offer green energy production and storage solutions for the mass market.
Elcogen started to develop the fuel cell that won them the innovation award in collaboration with the University of Tartu. To develop medium-temperature solid oxide fuel cells, Elcogen established contacts with Enn Lust, Professor of Physical Chemistry of the University of Tartu, in 2001 already. This collaboration resulted in creating a new synthesis method, which was patented in 2005 in the USA, Russian Federation, and 15 member states of the European Union, including Estonia. Based on the patent also the methodology for unit cell production was developed. The University of Tartu and Elcogen have jointly participated in implementing Estonian energy and materials technology projects.
According to Professor Enn Lust, the University of Tartu continues research and development collaboration with Elcogen. “The goal is to find a solution to use fuels containing sulphur and silicon compounds – biogas, wood gas, synthesis gas, and untreated natural gas,” he said. Also, porous materials for high-temperature co-electrolysis of carbon dioxide and water steam are developed. “Collaboration is even more efficient as Freddy Kukk from Elcogen is currently a doctoral student at the University of Tartu. Kukk defended his master’s thesis on the long-term stability of solid oxide fuel cells and electrolyser cells,” Lust added.
European Business Awards have been issued since 2012. Their primary purpose is to support and develop a stronger, more successful, innovative and ethical business community because businesses play a key role in addressing issues faced across the world.
Elcogen is the first Estonian company to win this competition. The competition started out in July when 2753 participants were selected in the first round. After a rigorous selection process, 363 companies were announced as National Winners in September and had the possibility to introduce their company to a high-level jury in the grand final.