August 2011

8.1.2011 Fort Bragg Chosen for DOE Project
(view article)

8.1.2011 Hyundai Ranks As One of The World's Greenest Brands
(view article)

8.1.2011 TTSI to Purchase 100 Zero-Emission Class 8 Trucks
(view article)

8.2.2011 UVic to launch new `green ship` using fuel cell technology
(view article)

8.2.2011 BMW to use landfill gas to make hydrogen for forklifts
(view article)

8.3.2011 Bloom Energy attracts data center operators
(view article)

8.3.2011 Fuel Cell Firm To Open in Northeast Richland
(view article)

8.4.2011 FuelCell Energy Announces Signing of Two Long Term Service Agreements for Power Plants Purchased by a California Utility
(view article)

8.5.2011 The Florida Energy Summit to Replace Farm to Fuel
(view article)

8.7.2011 Fuel Cell Powers Organic Farm, Winery
(view article)

8.8.2011 AFC Energy completes fuel cell study
(view article)

8.9.2011 Department of Energy Awards Nearly $7 Million to Advance Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Storage Systems Research
(view article)

8.10.2011 UTC Power's Fuel Cell System Sets World Record - Achieving 10,000-Hour Durability in Transit Service
(view article)

8.10.2011 Air Products gets go-ahead for giant green gas plant
(view article)

8.10.2011 Daimler leads in fuel cell vehicle commercialisation
(view article)

8.11.2011 Future of Technology - Poop fuels hydrogen cars
(view article)

8.15.2011 Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-CELL Helps to Guide Aircraft
(view article)

8.15.2011 Military Fuel Cell Market to Reach $1.2 Billion by 2017
(view article)

8.15.2011 ORNL microscopy generates new view of fuel cells
(view article)

8.16.2011 FuelCell Energy Announces Co-Production of Renewable Hydrogen for Vehicle Fueling From a Direct FuelCell(R) Power Plant
(view article)

8.16.2011 Hydrogen Highway in the Deep Sea
(view article)

8.16.2011 Energy Department Applauds World’s First Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Station in Orange County
(view article)

8.17.2011 Fuel Cells, Hydrogen Storage Get DOE Bump
(view article)

8.17.2011 UVic scientists creating first North American ship to use batteries, fuel cells
(view article)

8.18.2011 Mercedes Citaro FuelCELL Hybrid Buses Now Operating in Hamburg
(view article)

8.23.2011 USC fuel cell project praised
(view article)

8.23.2011 ClearEdge Power to make fuel cell for data centers
(view article)

8.24.2011 Proton Onsite installs Pearl Harbor hydrogen generator
(view article)

8.26.2011 Sewage-powered hydrogen fueling station opens in CA
(view article)

8.31.2011 Toyota's Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle Ready for Market
(view article)

8.31.2011 Solar-powered hydrogen refueling station planned for Michigan
(view article)

August 1, 2011
(view original article)

Fort Bragg Chosen for DOE Project

Department of Defense will test emergency backup electricity system that uses fuel cells.

Fort Bragg is one of eight military installations where the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Defense will test an emergency backup electricity system.

Known as fuel cells, the system is design to deliver cleaner, more reliable energy than traditional systems.

“The shared vision of the Department of Energy and the Department of Defense for a safe, secure energy future provides us with a strong foundation to work together on specific technologies," said Energy Secretary Steven Chu in a prepared statement. "Projects like these fuel cell systems will help reduce fossil fuel use and improve energy reliability at military installations across the country.”

The fuel cells could have benefits in combat, too.

“America's military pays a high price in terms of added costs, risk of life, and lost operational flexibility to deliver fuel supplies and power to combat forces,” said a spokesperson in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. “Reducing or replacing fossil fuels with clean energy technologies like fuel cells can help address these vulnerabilities and improve energy security at military facilities across the U.S. and ultimately across the globe.”

The spokesperson asked that her name not be used in this report.

The experimental program will test how the fuel cells perform in real world operations, identify any technical improvements manufacturers could make to enhance performance, and highlight the benefits of fuel cells for emergency backup power applications, according to Secretary Chu’s statement. The ultimate goal is to hasten the day the systems are available for widespread use.

Compared with diesel generators, which are often used for backup power, fuel cells use no petroleum, are quieter and produce fewer pollutants and emissions. Fuel cells also typically require less maintenance than either generators or batteries, and can easily be monitored remotely to reduce maintenance time. Their cost has been an issue, but tests like the one at Fort Bragg are designed to bring down costs.

The other military installations that will receive the fuel cell backup power units are:

  • Fort Hood, Texas
  • The U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York
  • Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland
  • Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey
  • Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Base, Colorado
  • U.S. Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center 29 Palms, California
  • The Ohio National Guard, Columbus, Ohio

The eight installations were chosen based on responses from a joint DOD-DOE project proposal request, the statement said. LOGANEnergy of Sandy Springs, Ga., will manage the project, using fuel cells from four manufacturers: ReliOn, Inc. of Spokane, Washington; Altergy Systems of Folsom, California; Idatech, LLC of Bend, Oregon; and Hydrogenics Corporation of Ontario, Canada.

The $6.6 million project is a joint effort by DOD's U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

August 1, 2011
(view original article)

Hyundai Ranks As One of The World's Greenest Brands

Hyundai has ranked as one of the world's greenest brands, according to Interbrand, thanks to the Blue Drive eco-friendly strategy and zero-emissions hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle development.

Interbrand's global report ranks Hyundai in 11th place out of 50 of the agency's Best Global Green Brands. Out of the seven automotive brands, Hyundai came in fourth place.

Of Hyundai, the report said: "The company is so confident in its fuel efficiency that starting this year it is reporting monthly fleet fuel efficiency figures in the U.S.

"Hyundai has recently seen strong improvements in energy, GHG emissions, water, waste, and toxic emissions."

Over 10,000 respondents from 10 countries were questioned for the survey covering each company's environmental record as well as perception of the company by consumers. Factors included performance, environmental impact, sustainable growth strategy and corporate social responsibility programs.

Blue Drive, launched by Hyundai in 2008 covers all of the company's eco-friendly technologies and products which contribute to higher fuel efficiency and lower emissions including petrol, diesel, electric, hybrid and hydrogen fuel-cell engines.

August 1, 2011
(view original article)

TTSI to Purchase 100 Zero-Emission Class 8 Trucks

Vision Industries Corp. has announced that drayage and logistics company Total Transportation Services Inc. intends to purchase 100 of its zero-emission, hydrogen fuel cell-electric Class 8 trucks for about $27 million.

The purchase is contingent on a successful trial of the first truck, which was delivered to TTSI on July 22. The initial truck will be used for drayage operations and freight hauling at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Vision Industries said in a statement.

The heavy-duty electric truck features a battery that is recharged by a hydrogen fuel cell, Vision Industries said. The vehicle produces no air pollution and H20 is the only by-product, the company said.

“Up and above the benefit of zero emissions, we at TTSI feel that this fuel format is the only true way to break our dependence on imported fuel,” TTSI President Vic La Rosa said in the statement. “Hydrogen is the most abundant resource on the planet.”

August 2, 2011
(view original article)

UVic to launch new `green ship` using fuel cell technology

Ocean innovation and research at the University of Victoria has benefitted from a $1.19 million contribution in federal funding from Western Economic Diversification Canada.

The funding will help UVic to secure the powertrain equipment necessary to retrofit the former Tsekoa II into the world's first plug-in hybrid 'green ship' powered by electricity, hydrogen fuel cells and low-emission diesel fuel.

The hybrid system will provide energy for low-speed maneuvering and station-keeping and will also supply high-quality power for ship systems, communications and instrumentation.

The new green ship technology has been created by UVic's green transportation research team and BC's marine engineering and alternative power system sectors. Project partners include the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Province of British Columbia, Ballard Fuel Systems and Techsol Marine.

A hybrid system is quieter, more efficient and cleaner than traditional marine systems.

Formerly known as the Tsekoa II (pronounced 'Se-ko-uh'), ownership was transferred to UVic from Fisheries and Oceans Canada where it was used for maintenance and fishery patrols by the Canadian Coast Guard.

The ship is currently 26.7 metres long and 7.25 metres wide at the beam. For the refit, the ship will be cut in half and a new section will be inserted at mid-ship to bring the total length to 36.6 metres. This new section will include a science lab and additional berths to accommodate 15 crew and scientists.

The refit will transform the vessel into the world's first plug-in hybrid 'green ship' powered by electricity, hydrogen fuel cells and low-emission diesel fuel. Innovative power management software will optimize the use of the ship's generators and batteries during high-demand, long-distance cruising or submersible operations.

This green technology will reduce carbon emissions, enhance the ship's fuel efficiency and provide high-quality electric power to the research equipment onboard. It will also permit acoustically sensitive research operations-such as marine mammal observations or studies of sound in the ocean- without requiring power from noisy diesel engines.

The new green ship technology is a collaboration between UVic's green transportation research team in the Faculty of Engineering and BC's marine engineering and alternative power system sectors. The ship will be a floating testbed for this new hybrid technology and is expected to open new niche markets in the marine sector.

It is hoped that the ship will be relaunched and in service by late 2012. Its new name has not yet been determined.

'This support for our world-class coastal research vessel is greatly appreciated and helps maintain Canada's leadership in the design and application of clean energy technologies,' says UVic Vice-President Research Dr. Howard Brunt. 'This project is an excellent example of how governments, industry and universities are working together to enhance the well being of Canadians.'

August 2, 2011
(view original article)

BMW to use landfill gas to make hydrogen for forklifts

Automotive manufacturer BMW has announced plans to run its forklifts from hydrogen produced from landfill gas, in its plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, USA.

It has launched the first phase of work to validate economic and technical feasibility of converting landfill gas into hydrogen. This first phase is funded by South Carolina Research Authority.

If future phases go ahead (to actually implement the system), the project team will include BMW, Advanced Technology International (a subsidiary of SCRA), the Gas Technology Institute, Ameresco, Inc., and the South Carolina Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Alliance.

BMW has been using landfill gas since 2003, with methane being collected, cleaned and compressed and providing over 50 percent of the plant's total energy requirements. $12m was invested in the program in 2009. It saves about $5m energy costs annually.

Now the plan is to also use the methane to make hydrogen to directly power the forklifts.

BMW is already using fuels to power nearly 100 material handling vehicles in a 1.2m square foot assembly facility, where it produces the X3 Sports Activity Vehicle.

August 3, 2011
(view original article)

Bloom Energy attracts data center operators

Silicon Valley’s fuel cell maker Bloom Energy continues to add customers looking to power part of their data center operations with distributed, cleaner power in California. On Thursday, the U.S. division of Japanese telecom giant NTT, NTT America, said it will install five Bloom fuel cells at one of its data center facilities in San Jose, Calif.

Nine-year-old Bloom Energy sells an industrial-sized fuel cell (which looks like a large refrigerator) that uses a chemical reaction to produce electricity. The Bloom Boxes suck up oxygen on one side and fuel (usually natural gas or biogas) on the other side, and produce power on-site for companies in a more efficient and less carbon-intensive manner than using the grid (depending on what fuel the company uses).

NTT America says it will use biogas (gas generated by decomposing organic material) produced at a California dairy farm as fuel for the Bloom fuel cells. That means NTT’s fuel cells won’t emit as much carbon as many of the Bloom fuel cells that are being powered by natural gas. Updated: NTT America has corrected the source of the biogas to two landfills in Pennsylvania.

Five Bloom fuel cells have a capacity of 500 kilowatts, which is the equivalent power for about 500 houses or five large office buildings. Each Bloom fuel cell costs around $700,000 to $800,000 before subsidies, so NTT is spending a couple million dollars on the installation.

Data center operators are looking for ways to make their facilities more energy-efficient and greener as a way to cut growing energy bills and also to highlight company sustainability. While fuel cells are still not commonly used to power data centers, Bloom has been slowly growing its customer list of telcos and Internet companies that want to use the Bloom boxes for part of their data center operations.

Earlier this month, AT&T said it plans to install a whopping 7.5 MW worth of Bloom fuel cells (that’s 75 fuel cells) at 11 AT&T offices in California. AT&T said it would use the fuel cell power for data centers as well as administration offices and facilities that house network equipment.

Fuel cells likely won’t be used as a main, or stand alone, power source for a data center. As we pointed out on GigaOM Pro (subscription required) last year, data centers need a power source that is so-called “five nines” (99.999 percent). Google has said the Bloom Box it was using on its campus had an availability rating of 98 percent, which translates into around seven days of downtime a year: no good for a standalone power source for a data center running web sites that can’t go down.

Bloom has also found success with data center operators in California because state subsidies make the Bloom boxes a lot more economical in California. Customers in the state include Google, eBay and Adobe .

August 3, 2011
(view original article)

Fuel Cell Firm To Open in Northeast Richland

More jobs are coming to Northeast Columbia.

LOGANEnergy, a fuel cell firm based in Georgia, will open a branch at Midlands Technical College, according to a report from the Post and Courier.

The opening of the Columbia location will create about 25 jobs, according to a release from the USC-Columbia Fuel Cell Collaborative.

Columbia is already home to another fuel cell firm, Trulite, but it does not employ as many people as the new LOGANEnergy firm will. 

August 4, 2011
(view original article)

FuelCell Energy Announces Signing of Two Long Term Service Agreements for Power Plants Purchased by a California Utility

DANBURY, Conn. -- FuelCell Energy, Inc. a leading manufacturer of ultra-clean, efficient and reliable power plants, today announced the signing of two multi-year service agreements with Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) to operate and maintain two 1.4 megawatt Direct FuelCell(R) power plants previously purchased and located at two California universities. FuelCell Energy was contracted to install the plants and will maintain the power plants under the service agreements. Both plants are installed and have generated power with full operation expected within the next few weeks.

Utility-owned fuel cell power plants provide ultra-clean distributed baseload generation which lessens reliance on the electrical transmission grid and represents incremental capacity that avoids or reduces investment in the electric transmission and distribution system.

"Services are a key portion of our value proposition to our customers and a cornerstone of our business model," said Chip Bottone, President and Chief Executive Officer, FuelCell Energy, Inc. "Service agreements allow our customers to focus on their business while we focus our expertise on maintaining the power plants."

FuelCell Energy offers a comprehensive portfolio of services for fuel cell power plants ranging from one to 20 years. Technicians and engineers remotely monitor and operate Direct FuelCell power plants globally, 24 hours per day, seven days per week, 365 days per year from the state-of-the-art Global Technical Assistance Center, located at the Company's Danbury, Connecticut headquarters.

Mr. Bottone continued, "Services represents a long term and consistent source of revenue for the Company and is a key growth area, as demonstrated by this announcement."

About FuelCell Energy

Direct FuelCell(R) power plants are generating ultra-clean, efficient and reliable power at more than 50 locations worldwide. The Company's power plants have generated over 800 million kWh of power using a variety of fuels including renewable biogas from wastewater treatment and food processing, as well as clean natural gas. 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 clients around the world. For more information please visit our website at

This news release contains forward-looking statements, including statements regarding the Company's plans and expectations regarding the continuing development, commercialization and financing of its fuel cell technology and business plans. All forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected. Factors that could cause such a difference include, without limitation, general risks associated with product development, manufacturing, changes in the regulatory environment, customer strategies, potential volatility of energy prices, rapid technological change, competition, and the Company's ability to achieve its sales plans and cost reduction targets, as well as other risks set forth in the Company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The forward-looking statements contained herein speak only as of the date of this press release. The Company expressly disclaims any obligation or undertaking to release publicly any updates or revisions to any such statement to reflect any change in the Company's expectations or any change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any such statement is based.

Direct FuelCell, DFC, DFC/T, DFC-H2 and FuelCell Energy, Inc. are all registered trademarks of FuelCell Energy, Inc. DFC-ERG is a registered trademark jointly owned by Enbridge, Inc. and FuelCell Energy, Inc.

August 5, 2011
(view original article)

The Florida Energy Summit to Replace Farm to Fuel

Cocoa, FL – Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has announced plans for the 2011 Florida Energy Summit, which will be held October 26 through October 28 in Orlando.

Commissioner Putnam made the announcement during a visit to the Florida Solar Energy Center in Cocoa, where he explored the research and development of energy technologies to advance the production of biomass, hydrogen, fuel cell and solar energy.

August 7, 2011
(view original article)

Fuel Cell Powers Organic Farm, Winery

Stone Edge Farm grows organic Cabernet Sauvignon and a little bit of Merlot in California’s Sonoma Valley, producing wines that retail for between $30 and $60. The winery turned to Hillsboro, Ore.-based ClearEdge Power, for a cleaner and less expensive way to provide the energy it needs to pump water to its vines, keep fermentation-tank temperatures in line, transfer wine from tanks to barrels – all the things that go into making wine. What they got was a ClearEdge5 system, which uses a 5-kilowatt fuel cell hooked into an existing natural gas line to drive its electrochemical process for producing electricity and heat.

ClearEdge said the system installed will save Stone Edge Farm 49 percent on its electricity bill and keep 24,000 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) from rising into the atmosphere every year.  Over a 20-year period, the system will save the winery upward of $250,000 in energy costs, ClearEdge said.

While this was the first fuel cell we’d (Earth Techling) heard about going in at a winery, the announcement from CleanEdge prompted a little digging around and we found that Sutter Home, also in Napa Valley, recently had a Bloom Box installed on its estate, and that a Penn State professor was testing a wastewater-to-hydrogen-gas system at Napa Wine Company.

August 8, 2011
(view original article)

AFC Energy completes fuel cell study

Fuel cells developer AFC Energy announced today that its HAZOP study relating to its commercial-scale fuel cell system has been successfully completed.

The firm said improvements highlighted by the study have been incorporated into the ‘Beta’ system, which is currently being commissioned at AFC’s premises in the UK.

None of the improvements have involved any significant redesign work and the company said that it is on track with its plans to deploy a Beta system into the field for testing.

The firm’s low-cost alkaline fuel cell systems use hydrogen to produce clean electricity as well as heat and water. The fuel cells are targeted at large-scale industrial applications, with the objective of producing the lowest possible unit cost electricity.

AFC claims its cells have high efficiency levels: using readily-available hydrogen and air as the source of oxygen electrical efficiency is up to 60 percent, which compares to approximately 30 percent for conventional electricity-generating technologies.

The cells are also able to operate at temperatures of less than 100 degrees centigrade, enabling AFC to use low-cost polymer mouldings for many parts.

In early July, AFC reported interim results that showed post-tax losses for its first half were £1.8 million (H1 2010: £1.3 million). The firm explained that the increased operating loss was attributable to a planned increase in expenditure relating to the further strengthening of its technical team, expansion of its Dunsfold facilities and the construction of its first two Beta systems.

August 9, 2011
(view original article)

Department of Energy Awards Nearly $7 Million to Advance Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Storage Systems Research

California, Ohio, and Virginia Projects to Find Ways to Reduce Component and Manufacturing Costs

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Energy today announced nearly $7 million over five years for independent cost analyses that will support research and development efforts for fuel cells and hydrogen storage systems.  The four projects – in California, Ohio, and Virginia – will generate rigorous cost estimates  for manufacturing equipment, labor, energy, raw materials, and various components that will help identify ways to drive down production costs of transportation fuel cell systems, stationary fuel cell systems, and hydrogen storage systems.  These projects will provide important data that will help the Department focus future research and development funding on the fuel cell components and manufacturing processes that can deliver the greatest gains in efficiency.

“These projects will help advance our fuel cell and hydrogen storage research efforts and bring down the costs of producing and manufacturing next generation fuel cells,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “These technologies are part of a broad portfolio that will create new American jobs, reduce carbon pollution, and increase our competitiveness in today’s global clean energy economy.”

These projects will generate lifecycle cost analyses of existing and conceptual fuel cell systems for transportation and stationary applications.  The projects will analyze a range of system sizes, manufacturing volumes, and applications, including transportation, backup power and material-handling equipment such as forklifts.  Cost analyses are conducted by designing the system and conceptualizing its manufacturing process, selecting manufacturing equipment, determining labor and energy, and obtaining prices for materials and manufacturing equipment.  The design of systems and manufacturing process is guided and vetted through system models at National Laboratories, patent and literature research, presentation from developers, and peer review.

The four projects selected for award are:

  • Directed Technologies, Inc. – Arlington, VA – up to $3 million for two projects

    Directed Technologies will conduct two cost analyses under these awards – one focused on transportation fuel cell systems and the other on hydrogen storage systems. The transportation fuel cell systems project will analyze and estimate the cost of transportation fuel cell systems for use in vehicles including light-duty vehicles and buses. The cost analyses of hydrogen storage systems will also examine various cost parameters including capital equipment, raw materials, labor, and energy to gain an understanding of system cost drivers and future pathways to lower system costs. The analyses will include rigorous annual cost estimates of fuel cell power systems or hydrogen storage systems that will help industry optimize the design of components and manufacturing processes at various rates of production. Sensitivity studies will examine how total manufacturing costs are affected by changes to the fuel cell system design and cost parameters such as platinum price, cell power density, operating pressure, operating temperature or the number of cells in the fuel cell stack.

  • Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory – Berkeley, CA – up to $1.9 million

    Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will develop total cost models for low- and high-temperature stationary fuel cell systems up to 250 kilowatts (kW).  This project will yield accurate projections of current system costs and assess the impacts of state-of-the-art manufacturing technologies, increases in production volume, and design changes on system and life-cycle costs for several near-term and emerging fuel cell markets.

  • Battelle Memorial Institute – Columbus, OH – up to $2 million

    Over the course of this project, Battelle Memorial Institute will provide cost assessments for stationary fuel cell applications up to 25 kW, including forklifts, backup power units, primary power, and combined heat and power systems. The project will also provide cost analyses of large-scale fuel cell applications ranging from 100 to 250 kW, such as auxiliary power, primary power, and large-scale combined heat and power systems.  The analyses conducted under this project will provide a better understanding of performance, design and manufacturing options, and life-cycle costs, which will help optimize fuel cell designs, manufacturing methods, and target applications.

August 10, 2011
(view original article)

UTC Power's Fuel Cell System Sets World Record - Achieving 10,000-Hour Durability in Transit Service

SOUTH WINDSOR, Conn. -- UTC Power, a United Technologies Corp. company, today announced that one of its latest generation PureMotion® System Model 120 fuel cell powerplants for hybrid-electric transit buses has surpassed 10,000 operating hours in real-world service with its original cell stacks and no cell replacements. This powerplant is aboard an Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit) bus operating in the Greater Oakland, Calif. area.

UTC Power has provided fuel cells for fleet transportation since 1998, powering buses in the United States, Spain, Italy and Belgium.  The Model 120 was introduced into commercial service in 2005 and represents more than nine years of research and development. It is a quiet, efficient, zero-emission proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell system for heavy duty vehicles. 

"The exceptional performance of the PureMotion product is a testament to UTC Power's advanced fuel cell technology," said Dana Kaplinski, manager of UTC Power's transportation business. "The new technology we introduced in 2007 has surpassed our customers' expectations. Buses equipped with the Model 120 fuel cell system have traveled more than 630,000 miles, a significant accomplishment as we continue to make progress toward the commercialization of fuel cell buses."

There are now 18 transit buses in commercial service powered by PureMotion System Model 120 fuel cell powerplants. These buses are operating in California (AC Transit and SunLine Transit) and Connecticut (CTTransit). The Model 120 powerplants have consistently maintained 90 percent average availability while operating in commercial transit service since February 2008 – meaning the units are operational and available to power the buses on scheduled runs 90 percent of the time.  This reliability surpasses transit industry targets of 85 percent availability for conventional engines.

"Since late 2005, AC Transit has accumulated more than 400,000 miles of service and carried in excess of one million passengers on its fleet of fuel cell buses powered by UTC Power fuel cell power plants," said Jaimie Levin, AC Transit's Director of Alternative Fuels Policy and Hydrogen Fuel Cell Program Manager. "Our passengers love these buses, as well as our mechanics and drivers. We are extremely pleased and impressed with the performance of the UTC Power near-ambient pressure fuel cell system, and our entire staff is proud to be a part of the team that has reached this critical milestone."

CTTransit is also pleased with the performance of the PureMotion Systems aboard their fleet of fuel cell-powered hybrid-electric transit buses. "CTTransit has operated fuel cell buses since 2007 and we have seen remarkable progress in powerplant durability," said Steve Warren, assistant general manager-maintenance services for CTTransit. "We operate the newest fleet of four fuel cell buses in the same urban conditions and routes as our diesel fleet, from snowstorms to the recent heat wave, and their performance has been outstanding."

In October 2010, CTTransit unveiled four next-generation fuel cell-powered hybrid-electric transit buses at their headquarters in Hartford, Conn. The four new buses joined another bus that has been in service since 2007 that is also powered by a fuel cell from UTC Power. The durability and reliability of the previous generation powerplant proved that the technology works and encouraged CTTransit to invest further in buses powered by the PureMotion System. To accommodate its growing fuel cell bus fleet, CTTransit is building a new garage to store up to six fuel cell buses and is installing a hydrogen fueling station at their headquarters.

Buses powered by the PureMotion System are more than two times more fuel efficient than a diesel-powered bus and are emission-free, generating no soot or smog-forming pollutants. Compared to a diesel version, every bus equipped with a UTC Power PureMotion system reduces nitrogen oxide emissions equivalent to removing 77 cars from the road per year and creates the same carbon dioxide benefits as planting 31 acres of forest.

About UTC Power

UTC Power is part of United Technologies Corp. (UTC), which provides energy-efficient products and services to the aerospace and building industries.  UTC is a founding member of the U.S. Green Building Council and the Pew Center on Global Climate Change and has been named to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index each year since it was launched in 1999.  Based in South Windsor, Conn., UTC Power is the world leader in developing and producing fuel cells that generate energy for buildings and for transportation, space and defense applications.  For more information, please visit

About AC Transit

AC Transit serves more than 1.5 million people in 13 cities (including the cities of Oakland and Berkeley) and two counties in the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area. With a fleet of nearly 600 buses, it carries more than 61 million passengers annually.

About CTTransit

CTTransit is the state-owned bus transit system serving the Greater Hartford, New Haven, Stamford, Waterbury, New Britain, Meriden, Bristol and Wallingford areas.

August 10, 2011
(view original article)

Air Products gets go-ahead for giant green gas plant

Tees Valley Renewable Energy Facility could kick-start £1bn investment programme using advanced gasification technology

The UK's fledgling waste-to-energy sector has taken a major step forward after Air Products received a green light build the 49MW Tees Valley Renewable Energy Facility.

The company confirmed today that it has secured planning permission from Stockton on Tees Borough Council to build the plant, which is expected to be the first large-scale facility to use advanced gasification technology to create energy from waste.

The company is still awaiting consent from the Environment Agency, but is hoping to begin work on the site next year, leading to commercial operations starting in 2014.

Air Products is planning to use AlterNRG's Westinghouse gasification technology to convert pre-processed household and commercial waste into renewable power for up to 50,000 homes in the north east.

The process will also produce slag as a byproduct, which could be used to manufacture products such as floor tiles, insulation, landscaping blocks and road aggregate.

Significantly, Air Products also hopes to use the plant to generate a renewable source of hydrogen for commercial use, such as fuel for public transport.

Ian Williamson, European hydrogen and bioenergy director at Air Products, explained that the plant is currently being considered for a demonstration of Waste2Tricity's fuel cell technology.

"So our renewable energy facility could also play a part in the further development of the hydrogen economy, an area in which Air Products already has considerable experience," he said.

The company hopes that the Tees Valley plant will be the first of five built using AlterNRG technology. Total investment in the five plants would amount to £1bn, generating almost 250MW of electricity.

"The UK is seeking more sustainable ways to manage and dispose of its waste, and is looking to diversify its sources of electricity generation: our technology is able to deliver on both counts," added Williamson.

Climate change minister Greg Barker welcomed the news, noting that the plant could divert 300,000 tonnes of waste from landfill a year.

"Energy from waste leads to considerable reductions in waste going into landfill, and makes an important contribution to the UK's low-carbon energy supply," he said.

"This new technology will be an exciting addition to the energy from waste sector and I look forward to seeing the announcement of more of these projects."

Air Products said that 500 to 700 people will be employed during the project's construction phase with 50 permanent jobs being created once the facility enters commercial operation.

August 10, 2011
(view original article)

Daimler leads in fuel cell vehicle commercialisation

The future market for light duty fuel cell vehicles looks set to be dominated by a few key players who have embarked on aggressive programmes of development, the latest study from Pike Research suggests.

In recent years, auto makers have diverged in their development of fuel cell vehicles, some pushing ahead and others pulling back. At the same time, only a few new players have entered the arena, leaving a few key names in the best position in the formative stage of the market; Daimler and Honda.

A new Pike Pulse report reveals that Daimler scores the highest in the developing a path to commercialization of  fuel cell vehicles (FCV), thanks in part to its strong relationships with infrastructure and government partners and its recent announcement to partner with Linde on infrastructure development.  However, Daimler, the parent firm of smart and Mercedes-Benz among others, has made ambitious announcements on fuel cell technology readiness in the past, and these failed to come to fruition.  The company recently moved up its target date to 2014 from 2015, following its recent round the world trip in three prototype B-Class F-Cell fuel cell vehicles.  Pike warns if this new target slips then Daimler’s position could quickly change.

Honda is the runner-up in Pike Research’s analysis, based on the high-quality execution of its trial of the FCX Clarity fuel cell car, still under tests in Japan and the US. Despite being the first to produce a commercial fuel cell vehicle, the Japanese car takes second place to its German rival, although its efforts to lay the groundwork for a commercial launch were praised, and its continued public commitment to FCV commercialization. Yet, the market analysts firm suggests that Honda must be careful in regards to the slow rollout of its Clarity model; as if the rollout doesn’t speed up, it could lose its place in the market.

The 10 car makers in rated in order of fuel cell vehicle progress are:

1.  Daimler
2.  Honda
3.  Toyota
4.  Hyundai-Kia
5.  General Motors (GM)
6.  SAIC Motor Corp.
7.  Nissan/Renault
8.  Ford
9.  BMW
10. Riversimple

“Automakers will continue to refine their products between now and the 2014/2015 deadline for commercial launch,” says senior analyst Lisa Jerram.  “In order to meet this target, the OEMs must continue to test and refine their fuel cell systems as well as the vehicle integration and optimization.  They will also be focused on driving down vehicle costs.”

The “Pike Pulse Report: Light-Duty Fuel Cell Vehicles” evaluates 10 auto OEMs working on fuel cell vehicles and rates them on 12 criteria for strategy and execution, including go-to-market strategy, product portfolio, partnerships, innovation, reach, market share, pricing, and staying power.

August 11, 2011
(view original article)

Future of Technology - Poop fuels hydrogen cars

An experimental fuel cell at a wastewater treatment plant in California is turning poop flushed down the drain into hydrogen fuel for cars.

National Fuel Cell Research Center associate director Jack Brouwer at the new "sewage-to-hydrogen" fuel pump.

The novel fuel cell converts biogas — methane — produced in digesters at the plant into heat, electricity and hydrogen. The heat is fed back to the digesters, the electricity powers the plant, and the hydrogen is fuel for cars.

"It is a technology to generate hydrogen with a very low environmental impact," Scott Samuelson, director of the National Fuel Cell Research Center at the University of California, Irvine, told me today.

The use of stationary fuel cells at wastewater treatment plants and landfills to generate heat and electricity from biogas is nothing new, Samuelson noted, but this is the first demonstration of the technology to generate hydrogen for cars in parallel with the heat and electricity.

Traditionally, stationary fuel cells at wastewater treatment plants take biogas emitted by the digesters (bacteria that feast on sewage) and mix it with hot steam. This breaks down the methane to hydrogen and carbon dioxide.

Next, the CO2 is emitted while the hydrogen is fed into a fuel cell stack that generates electricity and a byproduct of water, Samuelson explained.

More gas

The new system at the Orange County Sanitation District'sFountain Valley sewage treatment plant is fed more biogas than it needs for electricity generation. The excess hydrogen produced when mixed with the hot steam is siphoned off for refueling cars.

"We discovered that by doing that we actually substantially increased the efficiency of the fuel cell so that it produces more energy per unit of fuel going in and it allows that hydrogen to be generated for refueling at almost no energy cost," Samuelson said.

The current system uses a 300-kilowatt fuel cell, though the same type of fuel cell is deployed elsewhere at 1.2, 2.4 and 5.6 megawatts, he noted. So, the process is scalable.

In fact, the so-called tri-generation technology (heat, electricity and hydrogen) should work just as well at landfills as wastewater treatment plants. If so, the collective piles of human waste could "power more than 30 percent of the automobile population" in Southern California, Samuelson noted.

Hydrogen clusters

The novel technology at the Orange County Sanitation District seems fitting for the once-lauded hydrogen highway of the future that has evolved into a series of clusters.

Already, several hundred hydrogen cars are on the road and by 2015 big name automakers such as Mercedes, Honda and Chevrolet plan to have some 50,000 hydrogen-powered deployed in southern California.

Instead of putting hydrogen fueling stations up and down and between the coasts, the government-subsidized industry is putting filling stations where people will buy and drive the cars, explained Chris White, a spokeswoman for the California Fuel Cell Partnership.

"You probably go to the same two or three stations most of the time. We look at the same thing for these fuel cell vehicles," she told me today. "Where do people live, work and play?"

That's where they put what are now called the clusters and one of these clusters is in Orange County, where the new station will officially open on August 16.

"The fact that it's also making hydrogen from sewage is an awesome, awesome, bonus," White added. "We talk about running out of fuel one day, I can tell you we are never going to run out of fuel that's made from [sewage]."

August 15, 2011
(view original article)

Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-CELL Helps to Guide Aircraft

In Stuttgart, the Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-CELL helps to guide aircraft around the runways. With an output of 136 hp and a top speed of 105 mph, it is locally emission-free and thus a true leader in its field, and not only of the planes on the airport. At the hydrogen filling station that was opened on the airport campus in 2009, the “follow me” vehicle can be refuelled with hydrogen in less than three minutes, giving it a range of around 400 kilometres. “So, as you can see, we are keeping up with the latest technological developments in ground-based drive systems”, commented Walter Schoefer, Managing Director of the company operating the airport, Flughafen Stuttgart GmbH.

The everyday viability and technical maturity of fuel cell-powered electric vehicles was put to the test by Mercedes-Benz only recently in its F-CELL World Drive. Between late January and early June, three Mercedes-Benz B-Class F‑CELL vehicles drove around the world – covering a distance of more than 30,000 kilometres across four continents and through 14 countries. With this circumnavigation of the globe, Daimler was also able to draw attention to the need for a broad-based hydrogen infrastructure. As a catalyst for this process, the company will therefore be working with Linde AG to establish an initial 20 hydrogen refuelling stations.

The B-Class F-CELL: the latest generation of fuel cell-powered electric vehicles

At the heart of the B-Class F‑CELL is the new generation of a fuel cell-powered electric drive system, which is compact, powerful, safe and absolutely practical for everyday use. The fuel cell generates the electricity needed for driving through a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen – within the vehicle itself. With a range of around 400 kilometres and fast refuelling times, the Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-CELL combines locally emission-free mobility with complete viability over long distances and impressive performance. In the process it produces no pollutant emissions whatsoever, just pure water. The 100 kW/136 hp electric motor in the current B‑Class F-CELL gives it effortless torque of 290 Nm right from the very first turn of the key, ensuring fun at the wheel and driving dynamics on a par with those of a 2.0-litre petrol engine. And with all this, the B-Class F-CELL achieves the equivalent of an NEDC consumption figure (New European Drive Cycle) of 3.3 litres of fuel (diesel equivalent) per 100 kilometres.

When the brakes are applied, or even as soon as the driver takes his or her foot off the accelerator, the electric motor uses a recuperation process to convert kinetic energy into electric energy, which is then stored in the battery. During manoeuvring or over short distances the electric drive motor takes its power from the battery. Should the capacity of the energy accumulator prove insufficient, the fuel cell is automatically activated. The decision as to whether the electricity is taken from the lithium-ion battery, the fuel cell or from a combination of both is determined by the intelligent drive management system according to what is most efficient and most beneficial to the customer.

August 15, 2011
(view original article)

Military Fuel Cell Market to Reach $1.2 Billion by 2017

Fuel cell manufacturers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) continue to benefit from an increased U.S. military emphasis on energy security and logistical efficiency associated with the complex and challenging operational conditions being encountered in remote wartime environments such as Afghanistan.  At the same time, an almost complete dependence on a fragile and commercial power grid and other national critical infrastructure places military and homeland defense missions at an unacceptably high risk of extended disruption.  These factors are leading the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and other military agencies to explore fuel cells as an increasingly important part of their energy strategy for a variety of applications.  According to a new report from Pike Research, the escalating adoption of fuel cells will create a $1.2 billion market for military fuel cells by 2017, up from only $9 million in 2011.

“Performance is the most powerful driving force for the adoption of fuel cells by the world’s armed forces,” says research analyst Euan Sadden.  “Enhancing the overall capabilities and performance of the U.S. armed forces is the leading priority for U.S. military agencies in considering new technologies and products for funding and potential integration into various military systems.  Low noise and low heat signature represent two good examples, providing specific benefits to military users that may not be as important to other customers.  Overall, though, the most attractive attribute of fuel cell systems is their high energy density, particularly when compared to standard military batteries.”

However, adds Sadden, formidable barriers still face fuel cell manufacturers in their pursuit of the military market.  Cost, durability, supply chain shortfalls, fuel availability, and serviceability are all factors that will pose serious challenges in the years ahead.  Military users are the world’s most demanding customers for fuel cells and, while they will be less price sensitive than the commercial market in the near term, their performance and production scale requirements may ultimately prove too high a hurdle for some vendors to overcome.

Pike Research’s analysis indicates that the largest opportunity for military fuel cells lies with soldier wearable and portable power applications for devices such as radios, ruggedized computers, and night-vision goggles, in which fuel cells are primarily used as a replacement for portable batteries.  The firm forecasts that this category will represent more than 50% of the total military fuel cell market by 2017.  The second largest category will be remote sensors and surveillance devices such as unmanned ground sensors (UGS).

Pike Research’s report, “Fuel Cells for Military Applications”, examines the stationary, transport, and portable power applications for fuel cell technologies currently being explored and validated by the U.S. Department of Defense, including a detailed analysis of market drivers as well as potential barriers to adoption.  Forecasts through 2017 are also provided for those technologies and applications that are deemed as offering a realistic possibility of being deployed within that timeframe.  An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the firm’s website.

Pike Research is a market research and consulting firm that provides in-depth analysis of global clean technology markets.  The company’s research methodology combines supply-side industry analysis, end-user primary research and demand assessment, and deep examination of technology trends to provide a comprehensive view of the Smart Energy, Smart Grid, Smart Transportation, Smart Industry, and Smart Buildings sectors.  For more information, visit or call +1.303.997.7609.

August 15, 2011
(view original article)

ORNL microscopy generates new view of fuel cells

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — A novel microscopy method at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory is helping scientists probe the reactions that limit widespread deployment of fuel cell technologies.

A new ORNL microscopy technique allows researchers to study key reactions in fuel cells at an unprecedented scale. The overlay shows electrochemical activity of platinum (Pt) nanoparticles on an yttria-stabilized zirconia (YSZ) surface, revealing enhanced activity along the triple-phase boundaries (TPB).

ORNL researchers applied a technique called electrochemical strain microscopy that enables them to examine the dynamics of oxygen reduction/evolution reactions in fuel cell materials, which may reveal ways to redesign or cut the costs of the energy devices. The team's findings were published in Nature Chemistry.

"If we can find a way to understand the operation of the fuel cell on the basic elementary level and determine what will make it work in the most optimum fashion, it would create an entirely new window of opportunity for the development of better materials and devices," said co-author Amit Kumar, a research scientist at ORNL's Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences.

Although fuel cells have long been touted as a highly efficient way to convert chemical energy into electrical energy, their high cost -- in large part due to the use of platinum as a catalyst -- has constrained commercial production and consumption.

Large amounts of platinum are used to catalyze the fuel cell's key reaction -- -the oxygen-reduction reaction, which controls the efficiency and longevity of the cell. Yet exactly how and where the reaction takes place had not been probed because existing device-level electrochemical techniques are ill suited to study the reaction at the nanoscale. ORNL co-author Sergei Kalinin explains that certain methods like electron microscopy had failed to capture the dynamics of fuel cell operation because their resolution was effectively too high.

"When you want to understand how a fuel cell works, you are not interested in where single atoms are, you're interested in how they move in nanometer scale volumes," Kalinin said. "The mobile ions in these solids behave almost like a liquid. They don't stay in place. The faster these mobile ions move, the better the material is for a fuel cell application. Electrochemical strain microscopy is able to image this ion mobility."

Other electrochemical techniques are unable to study oxygen-reduction reactions because they are limited to resolutions of 10's of microns - 10,000 times larger than a nanometer.

"If the reaction is controlled by microstructure features that are much finer than a micron, let's say grain boundaries or single extended defects that are affecting the reaction, then you will never be able to catch what is giving rise to reduced or enhanced functionality of the fuel cell," said ORNL's Stephen Jesse, builder of the ESM microscope. "You would like to do this probing on a scale where you can identify each of these defects and correlate the functionality of the cell with these defects."

Although this study mainly focuses on the introduction of a technique, researchers explain their approach as a much-needed bridge between a theoretical and applied understanding of fuel cells.

"There is a huge gap between fundamental science and applied science for energy-related devices like fuel cells and batteries," Kalinin said. "The semiconducting industry, for example, is developing exponentially because the link between application and basic science is very well established. This is not the case in energy systems. They are usually much more complicated than semiconductors and therefore a lot of development is driven by trial and error type of work."

Co-authors on the study are University of Heidelberg's Francesco Ciucci and Anna Morozovska from the National Academy of Science of Ukraine, whose theoretical analysis was critical in explaining the ESM measurements.

This research was conducted at the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences at ORNL. CNMS is one of the five DOE Nanoscale Science Research Centers supported by the DOE Office of Science, premier national user facilities for interdisciplinary research at the nanoscale. Together the NSRCs comprise a suite of complementary facilities that provide researchers with state-of-the-art capabilities to fabricate, process, characterize and model nanoscale materials, and constitute the largest infrastructure investment of the National Nanotechnology Initiative. The NSRCs are located at DOE's Argonne, Brookhaven, Lawrence Berkeley, Oak Ridge and Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories. For more information about the DOE NSRCs, please visit ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy's Office of Science.

August 16, 2011
(view original article)

FuelCell Energy Announces Co-Production of Renewable Hydrogen for Vehicle Fueling From a Direct FuelCell(R) Power Plant

First in the World, Wastewater Treatment Fuel Cell-Powered Hydrogen Energy Station

DANBURY, Conn. -- FuelCell Energy, Inc. a leading manufacturer of ultra-clean, efficient and reliable power plants, today announced a commissioning event for the Direct FuelCell(R) (DFC(R)) power plant that is providing renewable hydrogen for vehicle fueling along with ultra-clean electricity for the Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD) in Fountain Valley, California. The power plant efficiently converts biogas generated from the wastewater treatment process into ultra-clean electricity for use by OCSD and renewable hydrogen for an on-site vehicle fueling station operated by Air Products (NYSE:APD). Project participants include FuelCell Energy, Air Products and the National Fuel Cell Research Center at the University of California Irvine with support from California Air Resources Board (CARB), South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Southern California Gas Company.

An inauguration event will be held at the OCSD facility on August 16, 2011 to demonstrate the renewable hydrogen vehicle fueling station and the Direct FuelCell power plant. State and Federal legislators are expected to attend as well as leaders from the DOE, CARB, SCAQMD and OCSD.

"Hydrogen represents a viable fuel source for transportation that significantly reduces emissions and greenhouse gases compared to internal combustion engines and, as this project demonstrates, it can be generated domestically in a renewable manner pointing to sustainable U.S. energy independence," commented Ed Kiczek, Global Director -- Hydrogen Energy Systems at Air Products.

Biogas is generated continuously by the wastewater treatment process at OCSD. DFC power plants convert this biogas into hydrogen, which is then used to generate power in an electro-chemical process that is virtually pollution-free. The hydrogen obtained from the biogas that is not used to generate electricity is routed to the nearby hydrogen vehicle fueling station. The power plant is generating 250 kilowatts of ultra-clean power, enough to power about 200 average size homes and renewable hydrogen that can fuel approximately 25 vehicles per day.

"This project demonstrates how technology developed and manufactured in America can help to address our Nation's dependence on imported fuel sources by efficiently and cleanly converting waste biogas into renewable hydrogen for transportation needs of the 21st century," said Tony Leo, Vice President, Applications, FuelCell Energy, Inc. "Our Direct FuelCell technology is very versatile including the ability to provide renewable hydrogen as well as ultra-clean power and usable high quality heat from a waste stream."

FuelCell Energy manufactures stationary fuel cell power plants that provide continuous baseload power in a highly efficient and environmentally friendly process. DFC power plants are fuel flexible, using readily available fuel sources such as natural gas or renewable biogas. The electro-chemical power generation process does not utilize all of the hydrogen generated so the unused hydrogen can be used for other purposes such as vehicle fueling or industrial purposes. Due to the absence of combustion in the fuel cell power generation process, virtually no pollutants are emitted such as NOx, SOx, or particulate matter, resulting in ultra-clean power generation.

"Renewable, ultra-clean, baseload power from fuel cells operating on biogas is a powerful value proposition that FuelCell Energy offers to the market," continued Mr. Leo.

The power plant is operating under a three year contract and is maintained by FuelCell Energy.

About FuelCell Energy
Direct FuelCell(R) power plants are generating ultra-clean, efficient and reliable power at more than 50 locations worldwide. The Company's power plants have generated over 800 million kWh of power using a variety of fuels including renewable biogas from wastewater treatment and food processing, as well as clean natural gas. 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. For more information please visit our website at

August 16, 2011
(view original article)

Hydrogen Highway in the Deep Sea

Max Planck Researchers Discover Hydrogen-Powered Symbiotic Bacteria in Deep-Sea Hydrothermal Vent Mussels

The search for new energy sources to power mankind’s increasing needs is currently a topic of immense interest. Hydrogen-powered fuel cells are considered one of the most promising clean energy alternatives. While intensive research efforts have gone into developing ways to harness hydrogen energy to fuel our everyday lives, a natural example of a living hydrogen-powered ‘fuel cell’ has gone unnoticed. During a recent expedition to hydrothermal vents in the deep sea, researchers from the Max Planck Institute of Marine Microbiology and the Cluster of Excellence MARUM discovered mussels that have their own on-board ‘fuel cells’, in the form of symbiotic bacteria that use hydrogen as an energy source. Their results, which appear in the current issue of Nature, suggest that the ability to use hydrogen as a source of energy is widespread in hydrothermal vent symbioses.

Deep-sea hydrothermal vents are formed at mid-ocean spreading centers where tectonic plates drift apart and new oceanic crust is created by magma rising from deep within the Earth. When seawater interacts with hot rock and rising magma, it becomes superheated, dissolving minerals out of the Earth’s crust. At hydrothermal vents, this superheated energy-laden seawater gushes back out into the ocean at temperatures of up to 400 degrees Celsius, forming black smoker chimneys where it comes into contact with cold deep-sea water. These hot fluids deliver inorganic compounds such as hydrogen sulfide, ammonium, methane, iron and hydrogen to the oceans. The organisms living at hydrothermal vents oxidize these inorganic compounds to gain the energy needed to create organic matter from carbon dioxide. Unlike on land, where sunlight provides the energy for photosynthesis, in the dark depths of the sea, inorganic chemicals provide energy for life in a process called chemosynthesis.

When hydrothermal vents were first discovered more than 30 years ago, researchers were astounded to find that they were inhabited by lush communities of animals such as worms, mollusks and crustaceans, most of which were completely unknown to science. The first to investigate these animals quickly realized that the key to their survival was their symbiotic association with chemosynthetic microbes, which are the on-board power plants for hydrothermal vent animals. Until now, only two sources of energy were known to power chemosynthesis by symbiotic bacteria at hydrothermal vents: Hydrogen sulfide, used by sulfur-oxidizing symbionts, and methane, used by methane-oxidizing symbionts. “We have now discovered a third energy source” says Nicole Dubilier from the Max Planck Institute of Marine Microbiology in Bremen, who led the team responsible for this discovery.

The discovery began at the Logatchev hydrothermal vent field, at 3000 m depth on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, an undersea mountain range halfway between the Caribbean and the Cape Verde Islands. The highest hydrogen concentrations ever measured at hydrothermal vents were recorded during a series of research expeditions to Logatchev. According to Jillian Petersen, a researcher with Nicole Dubilier, “our calculations show that at this hydrothermal vent, hydrogen oxidation could deliver seven times more energy than methane oxidation, and up to 18 times more energy than sulfide oxidation”.

In the gills of the deep-sea mussel Bathymodiolus puteoserpentis, one of the most abundant animals at Logatchev, the researchers discovered a sulfur-oxidizing symbiont that can also use hydrogen as an energy source. To track down these hydrogen-powered on-board ‘fuel cells’ in the deep-sea mussels, the researchers deployed two deep-sea submersibles, MARUM-QUEST from MARUM at the University of Bremen, and KIEL 6000 from IFM-GEOMAR in Kiel. With the help of these remotely-driven submersibles, they sampled mussels from sites kilometers below the sea surface. Their ship-board experiments with live samples showed that the mussels consumed hydrogen. Once the samples were back in the laboratory on land, they were able to identify the mussel symbiont hydrogenase, the key enzyme for hydrogen oxidation, using molecular techniques.

The mussel beds at Logatchev form a teeming expanse that covers hundreds of square meter and contains an estimated half a million mussels. “Our experiments show that this mussel population could consume up to 5000 liters of hydrogen per hour” according to Frank Zielinski, a former doctoral student in Nicole Dubilier’s Group in Bremen, who now works as a post-doctoral researcher at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Leipzig. The deep-sea mussel symbionts therefore play a substantial role as the primary producers responsible for transforming geofuels to biomass in these habitats. “The hydrothermal vents along the mid-ocean ridges that emit large amounts of hydrogen can therefore be likened to a hydrogen highway with fuelling stations for symbiotic primary production” says Jillian Petersen.

Even the symbionts of other hydrothermal vent animals such as the giant tubeworm Riftia pachyptila and the shrimp Rimicaris exoculata have the key gene for hydrogen oxidation, but remarkably, this had not been previously recognized. “The ability to use hydrogen as an energy source seems to be widespread in these symbioses, even at hydrothermal vent sites with low amounts of hydrogen” says Nicole Dubilier.

August 16, 2011
(view original article)

Energy Department Applauds World’s First Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Station in Orange County

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Energy today issued the following statement in support of the commissioning of the world’s first tri-generation fuel cell and hydrogen energy station to provide transportation fuel to the public and electric power to an industrial facility, located at the Orange County Sanitation District's wastewater treatment plant in Fountain Valley, California. The fuel cell commissioned today is a combined heat, hydrogen, and power system that co-produces hydrogen in addition to electricity and heat, making it a tri-generation system. The hydrogen produced by the system is sent to a hydrogen fueling station that will be open to the public and can support between 25 and 50 fuel cell electric vehicle fill-ups per day.  The fuel cell also produces approximately 250 kW of power for use by the wastewater treatment plant. This on-site approach to hydrogen production advances hydrogen infrastructure technologies that will accelerate the use of this renewable fuel.

“Innovations like this demonstrate how American ingenuity and targeted investment can accelerate breakthroughs in the hydrogen and fuel cell industry while driving the clean energy economy forward,” said DOE’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Renewable Energy Steve Chalk. “By providing the added value of electricity and heat, this approach provides a significant step in overcoming economic challenges with hydrogen refueling infrastructure.”


The Fountain Valley tri-generation fuel cell and hydrogen energy station uses biogas from the municipal wastewater treatment plant as the fuel for a fuel cell.  The system is integrated with a hydrogen purification system to recover approximately 100 kg of hydrogen per day.  The project was developed as a partnership between the U.S. Department of Energy, California Air Resources Board, the Orange County Sanitation District, and private industry.  The project is managed by Air Products and additional partners include FuelCell Energy, Inc. and the National Fuel Cell Research Center at the University of California, Irvine.

The Fountain Valley fuel cell system could offer a pathway to low-cost hydrogen and also demonstrates the versatility of fuel cells to utilize multiple feedstocks, such as biogas and natural gas, to produce power and renewable hydrogen that can be used to fuel light duty vehicles such as forklifts or as backup power in applications such as cell phone towers.  Primarily running on biogas, the system can also use natural gas to sustain a consistent feedstock in the case of any disruption in biogas availability or quality.

DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy invests in clean energy technologies that strengthen the economy, protect the environment, and reduce dependence on foreign oil. Find out more about DOE’s support of research, development and deployment of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.

August 17, 2011
(view original article)

Fuel Cells, Hydrogen Storage Get DOE Bump

Four fuel cell and hydrogen storage research and development projects are getting a $7 million boost from the Obama administration. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) said the funding, to be spent over five years, will “provide important data that will help the Department focus future research and development funding on the fuel cell components and manufacturing processes that can deliver the greatest gains in efficiency.”

The funding will be used in projects in Ohio, California and Virginia. Manufacturing equipment, labor, energy, raw materials and various components will be looked at to identify ways to drive down production costs of transportation fuel cell systems, stationary fuel cell systems and hydrogen storage systems.

Direct Technologies, based in Arlington, Va., will receive up to $3 million dollars for two projects. The first will focus on transportation fuel cell systems for use in vehicles including light-duty vehicles and buses. The  second will analyze the cost of hydrogen storage systems and cost parameters including capital equipment, raw materials, labor and energy to gain an understanding of system cost drivers and future pathways to lower system costs.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif., will receive $1.9 million to develop total cost models for low- and high-temperature stationary fuel cell systems up to 250 kilowatts (kW). Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, Ohio, will receive up to $2 million to provide cost assessments for stationary fuel cell applications up to 25 kW, including forklifts, backup power units, primary power and combined heat and power systems.

August 17, 2011
(view original article)

UVic scientists creating first North American ship to use batteries, fuel cells

The University of Victoria is creating the first North American ship to integrate electric power.

The ship, which the university acquired from the Coast Guard for $1 and will refit with a 6.6-metre science lab and additional berths, will run off batteries, fuel cells and low-emission diesel generators. But the generators will only come into use when there is a need for high power, such as for long-distance cruising.

"It kind of shows you what you can do without having to re-invent the wheel," said Kim Juniper, a UVic professor and the leading scientist in the project.

The ship's design also makes it a quieter vessel, therefore less invasive on marine life.

The engines, or thrusters, that propel the ship were designed for cruise ships to please passengers who don't want noise.

"So we're kind of borrowing technology from a whole bunch of different places," said Juniper. "We've got cruise ship-style propulsion that's very quiet. We've got the bus fuel cell system and there's a lot of different technologies that are coming together on this ship to make something that's very quiet and very environmentally friendly."

There are already boats that run without fuel, like one in the Los Angeles harbour that uses batteries and a ferry on the Fraser River that runs off natural gas.

These environmentally friendly vessels aren't very common and are still seen as prototypes, said Juniper.

Juniper said the ship is also green because it was recycled — "otherwise it would have been cut up and used for scraps" — and there will be trash compactors and recycling bins on board that will be brought back to land.

"A true green ship is a sailboat," he said, but there is interest worldwide in making ships more environmentally friendly.

The tough part is that there is no incentive to make bigger ships more environmentally friendly, he said, adding that cargo ships try to transport goods as cheaply as possible.

"It's a very conservative industry. They're in this for the money, not to be innovative."

Aside from the deal the university got on acquiring the ship, Juniper is hoping it will be cheaper to operate because it will use less fuel.

They can draw power from the batteries during peak loads without having to fire up the generators, or if they do have to turn on generators and have excess power, we can dump it to the batteries and recharge them.

So there won't be wasted power and there will be fewer emissions.

It may, however, be a bit more expensive to build "because we're putting on things you wouldn't normally bother to put on a ship," said Juniper.

But the "greenness" made the case for funding even stronger and in June 2009, the Canadian Foundation for Innovation approved the funding.

Juniper expects the project to cost less than $20 million.

It's not just a green ship though, said Juniper.

The ship, formerly Oceans and Fisheries' Tsekoa II, will also be used to test electric-powered vessels, it will work as an oceanographic research centre, will train future marine scientists and it will have a submersible to service Venus and Neptune Canada, the university's underwater ocean observatory networks.

Design plans have delayed the date for use until March 2013. It was originally planned to go into service later this year.

August 18, 2011
(view original article)

Mercedes Citaro FuelCELL Hybrid Buses Now Operating in Hamburg

German auto giant Daimler announced today that Hamburger Hochbahn AG has acquired four Mercedes-Benz Citaro FuelCELL Hybrids under the German "NaBuZ demo" scheme to promote sustainable bus systems for the future, with three more units to follow next year.

The fuel cell stacks of the new Citaro FuelCELL Hybrid are identical to those of the Mercedes-Benz B-Class FCELL with fuel cell drive, which is also being put to the test by customers in Hamburg.

The concept behind the new FuelCELL bus essentially corresponds to that of the Mercedes-Benz BlueTec Hybrid buses which are in service in Hamburg. A key difference is that the latter derive their electric power from a diesel generator, while in the new FuelCELL buses the fuel cells generate the electricity for the drive motors, without producing any emissions whatsoever.

"With the new FuelCELL Hybrid vehicles, Hamburg is once again assuming a pioneering role in this field. This transport company has already made a name for itself and acquired good experience with its trials in Europe of fuel cell buses from the previous generation. Passengers and drivers were also delighted with the new technology," said Hartmut Schick, head of Daimler Buses.

"According to all the forecasts, 20 to 25 years from now mineral oil and, in turn, diesel will be in short supply and too expensive to be a viable fuel for buses. From the coming decade on, HOCHBAHN thus aims to purchase only electrically driven zero-emission buses. Commissioning this new generation of buses represents an important step on the road to electric mobility," explained Gunter Elste, CEO of Hamburger Hochbahn AG.

August 23, 2011
(view original article)

USC fuel cell project praised

COLUMBIA -- Energy Secretary Steven Chu stepped briefly into USC’s innovative energy research district Tuesday, touring a portion of the multimillion-dollar development the university hopes will spearhead the way to world leadership in fuel cell technology.

Chu voiced his support for fuel cells as an alternative energy, saying critics had misrepresented his position amid budget discussions.

Chu’s stop in downtown Columbia came on the tail end of a daylong swing through the region aimed at drawing attention to the relationship between small business and a clean energy economy, including two stops in Orangeburg.

Researchers at the University of South Carolina put on a full-court press to tout the practical uses of hydrogen and fuel cells, such as fueling buses.

“I am very excited by what I’ve seen today,” Chu said after the USC tour.

Chu was accompanied on the tour by 6th District U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., and officials representing the White House and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Chu heard a private presentation from USC president Harris Pastides, researchers and other hydrogen promoters in the Horizon Center at the corner of South Main and Blossom streets on several facets of the developing, first-of-its-kind integrated Fuel Cell District.

USC and its partners, including the public-private S.C. Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Alliance, have a 20-year strategy to put South Carolina at the forefront of a hydrogen and fuel cell economy.

Chu, a physicist appointed by President Obama in 2009, has been criticized by hydrogen proponents as being ambivalent about hydrogen’s viability as an alternative fuel source and was questioned by Congress about his views on hydrogen energy in April.

“There (are) some people who felt that I was trying to get rid of fuel cells, totally altogether. That is absolutely not true,” Chu said, speaking to reporters. “We still want to fund the research and development of these fuel cells.

“As financial pressures increase, we’re trying to look for what is the best way to apportion the precious research dollars we do have, and how much in these various technologies.”

Fuel cells give off electricity as long as they have a continuous source of hydrogen and water, experts say, giving them the capability, for instance, to enhance a battery’s range.

USC officials said they wanted Chu to understand both the state and university’s commitment to hydrogen and fuel cell technology as a viable answer to the worldwide energy problem. Some technical barriers remain, they said, and other solutions exist, including natural gas, which Chu has touted.

However, U.S. researchers should focus on all possible solutions, USC officials said, rather than picking winners and losers.

“We want to ask him to increase his attention to the hope of hydrogen fuel cells,” Pastides said.

August 23, 2011
(view original article)

ClearEdge Power to make fuel cell for data centers

ClearEdge Power is making what it hopes is the Goldilocks of fuel cells, a power source big enough for a business or school but less expensive than larger, high-end models.

The Hillsboro, Ore.-based company today said it has raised $73.5 million from institutional investors as well as Austrian energy supplier Gussing Renewable Energy and utility Southern California Edison.

ClearEdge Power's fuel cell delivers 5 kilowatts of electric power and the equivalent of 5.8 kilowatts of heat.

The series E round will be used to expand to the east coast U.S. and internationally, including into central Europe. The company also intends to expand its product line with a fuel cell designed specifically for data centers, a product which is being now tested with customers, according to CEO Russell Ford.

The data center fuel cell will provide power at about half the cost of grid energy and provide back up in the case power goes out, Ford said. The company is planning other derivative products from its core 5-kilowatt fuel cell, too.

ClearEdge Power makes smaller units than Bloom Energy and FuelCell Energy but the company sees the light commercial market, such as retail outlets and office buildings, as a larger available market worth about $100 billion globally, according to Ford.

A single ClearEdge unit generates 5 kilowatts of power by converting natural gas into electricity using a chemical process. Customers also use the heat generated from power production for space heating or to heat water.

With its latest funding, it intends to set up business in Eastern states, including New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, where there's a relatively high cost of electricity. A 5-kilowatt unit, which is about the size of a refrigerator, costs $56,000. When maintenance and operation costs are figured in, the cost is lower than getting power from the grid, Ford said.

Fuel cells are a reliable source of power when power goes out and are cleaner than grid power. ClearEdge's fuel cells don't emit any air pollutants and they reduce carbon emissions by 35 percent to 40 percent, according to the company. Because they generate both heat and power, they are 90 percent efficient.

One of the big barriers to fuel cell adoption has always been the upfront cost. Return on investment depends on power and fuel prices, but the company's current commercial customers usually see a payback in around six or seven years, Ford said.

ClearEdge Power is negotiating with financial institutions so it can provide financing, which would remove the upfront cost. Solar companies are using the solar lease model to accelerate sales. Bloom Energy also offers financing where it owns and maintains its fuel cells and customers pay for the power and heat produced.

"As we get a little more mature to add financing as the solar companies have we will absolutely see an inflection in the adoption rate," he said. "I expect to have something in place in the very near future."

The company expects to sell 1,000 units next year and then double volume every year through 2015, he added.

August 24, 2011
(view original article)

Proton Onsite installs Pearl Harbor hydrogen generator

Wallingford hydrogen energy manufacturer Proton Onsite will install a hydrogen generator at the historic Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam facility outside of Honolulu.

The generator to be installed Friday will be used for vehicle fueling at the base, the fourth such generator installed by Proton this year. The others were in Flint, Mich., Emeryville, Calif. and Tracy, Calif.

The fueling station will handle a variety of hydrogen fuel cell and hydrogen internal combustion engine cars, as well as buses. It will be powered by solar panels and electricity from the Hawaiian power grid.

The installation supports Hawaii's Clean Energy Initiative and promotes energy security for the island, which is vulnerable to fuel supply disruptions.

Hawaii has the highest retail electricity rates in the country. Connecticut is second.

August 26, 2011
(view original article)

Sewage-powered hydrogen fueling station opens in CA

A driver fills a fuel cell vehicle with hydrogen at the Orange County Sanitation District waste treatment facility.

Could sewage be the holy grail for clean fuel? The Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD) in Fountain Valley, Calif., recently opened the world's first tri-generation fuel cell and hydrogen energy station, which uses sewage biogas to produce heat, electricity, and hydrogen. The end result of the system is a constant stream of hydrogen that doesn't require large amounts of electricity to produce.

Sewage waiting to be processed at the OCSD treatment plant produces methane gas. A system designed by FuelCell Energy collects the methane and reformulates it into hydrogen, then sends it to a fuel cell. Electricity from the fuel cell is used to power the facility, and any leftover hydrogen is diverted to a hydrogen fueling station operated by AirPower.

AirPower takes the excess hydrogen and purifies it further into fuel-grade hydrogen that can power vehicles. The waste facility is expected to generate approximately 250 kilowatts of electricity daily, and produce enough excess hydrogen fuel to power 25 to 50 vehicles. Heat generated during the purification and conversion process may also be captured and directed for other uses.

The new system is a three-year demonstration project partly funded by the Department of Energy, and could serve as a model for generating renewable hydrogen fuel for vehicles. If all available feedstock sources of methane gas were captured, such as food, brewery wastes, and landfill gas, this new method of hydrogen fuel generation could theoretically be used to power up to 200 million fuel cell vehicles.

BMW is working on a similar pilot project to convert methane gas to hydrogen. The car maker is collecting gas from a landfill close to its Spartanburg assembly plant, and is developing a process to turn it into hydrogen that it will use to power vehicles in its manufacturing facility.

AirProducts recently worked with Toyota to open a hydrogen pipeline-fed hydrogen refueling station on its Torrance, Calif. corporate campus. Toyota, Kia, and Hyundai are some of the auto manufacturers who have said they will bring fuel cell vehicles to the mass market by 2015.

The hydrogen energy station at the Orange County Sanitation District municipal wastewater treatment facility.

August 31, 2011
(view original article)

Toyota's Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle Ready for Market

In its 20-year pursuit of an affordable hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, Toyota will finally launch its Highlander FCHV-adv by 2015.

In 1992, Toyota launched an initiative to design and market the world’s first fuel cell automobiles.  Coincidentally, this was the same year that the Earth Summit was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, highlighting among other things the negative effects of excessive CO2 emissions released into the atmosphere.  Toyota has been working to answer the call to develop lower or no-emission automobiles utilizing advanced fuel cell technology ever since.  

In its pursuit, the company has rolled out numerous prototype fuel cell vehicles.  In 1996, Toyota demonstrated its first in-house developed Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle (FCHV) at an exhibition parade in Japan. 

In 1997, Toyota released its landmark gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle, the Prius.  The company quickly realized the potential of leveraging the energy efficient technologies in the Prius hybrid system to achieve increased efficiencies in fuel cell vehicles.  Later in that same year, the company unveiled the world’s first methanol fueled FCHV.

It was four years later, in 2001, that Toyota introduced hydrogen as a fuel for its FCHVs.  The FCHV-3 prototype offered advanced power output, and later that year, the FCHV-4 was developed and undergoing testing on public roads in Japan.  Through its membership with the California Fuel Cell Partnership, Toyota introduced the FCHV-4 to American roadways for testing. 

It was also in 2001 that Toyota incorporated its fuel cell technology into public transportation, developing the FCHV-BUS1 in partnership with Hino Motors. 

As if rolling out two vehicle prototypes and a bus design in a single year wasn’t bold enough, Toyota collaborated with General Motors and Exxon to announce the development of Clean Hydrocarbon Fuel (CHF).  The fuel was used to run the FCHV-5—released the same year.

By 2005, Toyota had perfected its FCHV systems to the point of being on-par in terms of performance and power density with gasoline-powered vehicles.  The only problem the company faced was that each of its prototypes cost roughly $1 million.

Toyota’s FCHV’s most recent metamorphosis has taken the form of the company’s highly successful Highlander SUV.  While the Highlander is a practical family vehicle, no millionaire would drop $1 million on a car that looks like you’re picking the kids up from school.  A sexy Lamborghini perhaps, but a standard SUV, not likely.

It has taken over five years for Toyota to figure out how to bring the cost of the FCHV Highlander down to a marketable price range.  And while the money saved on fuel will likely reduce the lifetime cost of the vehicle—considering that the Highlander FCHV can travel 500 miles on a full tank of hydrogen—the company is still faced with a price tag well above other Highlander models.

Toyota is preparing to introduce the Highlander Advanced Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle (FCHV-adv) to the market by 2015 with an estimated price tag of $50,000.  The company claims it has reduced the cost of producing hydrogen fuel cell vehicles by 90 percent in the past five years and expects another 50 percent drop in price come 2015. 

The baseline gasoline-powered model of the 2011 Toyota Highlander sells for around $28,000, just over half the cost of the upcoming FCHV-adv.  The Toyota Highlander Hybrid, however, costs only about $6,000 less than the FCHV-adv will.  Presumably, the drastic price difference is made up for in fuel efficiency considering analysts predict the cost of hydrogen could be as low as $2 per gallon equivalent.  Compared to the ever-increasing price of gasoline, hydrogen fuel cells are looking pretty attractive.  However, there is one major problem to contend with.

A lack of hydrogen infrastructure is what has kept most vehicle manufacturers from fully committing to developing hydrogen vehicles.  BMW, for example, announced late in 2010 the end to the road-testing program for its hydrogen vehicles due to lack of infrastructure.  But Toyota is unwavering in its quest, and is one of about eight automakers to have signed a “letter of understanding” to market fuel cell vehicles within the next five years.  The company is road-testing more than 100 of its Highlander FCHVs in the U.S. between 2010 and 2013 to prepare for the 2015 launch.

To address the concern over fueling infrastructure, Toyota partnered with Shell, Air Products, South Coast Air Quality Management District and the U.S. Department of Energy to build the first pipe-fed hydrogen fueling station in the U.S.

“Toyota plans to bring a fuel-cell vehicle to market in 2015 or sooner, and as you see, we will not be alone in the marketplace,” said Chris Hostetter, vice president of strategic resources for Toyota Motor Sales. “Building an extensive hydrogen-refueling infrastructure is the critical next step in bringing these products to market. But infrastructure development is no easy task. It will require coordination and cooperation between vehicle manufacturers, government agencies, hydrogen producers and end users. This station, for example, is the result of years of planning and a truly collaborative effort.”

It looks like hydrogen is going to be a competitive new option to power the transportation sector very soon.  With compressed natural gas, biofuels, and electric cars all making headway as well in this crucial transition, the diversified fueling infrastructure likely to ensue will hopefully ease the troubles felt by our current single-fuel oil-driven economy.

Click here to watch Toyota Highlander FCHV YouTube Video.

August 31, 2011
(view original article)

Solar-powered hydrogen refueling station planned for Michigan

Michigan's Mass Transportation Authority isn't waiting around for the hydrogen highway to come to its neck of the woods. The transit organization is building an alternative fuel testing ground for its planned fleet of propane and hydrogen-electric buses. When it's completed, the entire facility will be powered by an on-site solar farm, including the hydrogen generators.

Mass Transportation Authority canceled its orders for electric buses that achieved only a 40-mile range, and instead will be purchasing hydrogen-electric buses that have a 300-mile range to meet its clean-energy needs, according to an article in the Flint Journal.

Working with students and researchers at the Kettering University, the MTA plans to generate the hydrogen fuel on site. Fuel cell critics often complain that hydrogen can be just as polluting as gasoline because the electricity required to create hydrogen fuel comes from coal-fired power plants. However, MTA plans to build a solar farm on its 20-acre facility that will provide energy for the entire transit facility, including the hydrogen generators.

The facility is expected to be completed in spring 2012, around the same time the order of 50 to 60 propane-fueled buses will arrive.

Back to Top

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for our Email Newsletter
For Email Marketing you can trust

© (H2) South Carolina Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Alliance. All Rights Reserved.