12.1.2011 Fuel Cell Lift Trucks: A Grocer's Best Friend
12.1.2011 Ballard and Anglo American Unveil 150kW Fuel Cell System Demonstration at COP17 Conference
12.2.2011 Gasoline Fuel Cell Would Boost Electric Car Range
12.2.2011 BIC acquires Angstrom Power, plans fuel cell chargers for portable devices
12.2.2011 UPS Systems lights Trafalgar’s iconic Christmas tree
12.5.2011 Military Fuel Cell Shipments to Reach 272,000 Units Annually by 2017, According to Pike Research
12.7.2011 Plug Power announces new multi-site Gendrive fuel cell customer
12.7.2011 Opening up the market to fuel cell technologies
12.8.2011 New energy sources fuel interest from Secretary of the Navy
12.9.2011 Fuel Cells, Solar, Wind — Head-to-Head Clean Tech Comparison
12.9.2011 Vodacom tests fuel-cell powered base-station at COP17
12.9.2011 SF State, PG&E dedicate fuel cell plant
12.12.2011 Energy Department Awards More Than $7 Million for Innovative Hydrogen Storage Technologies in Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles
12.12.2011 FuelCell Energy Enters Into Partnership Agreement With Abengoa to Develop Localized Fuel Cell Power Plants for Europe and Latin America
12.14.2011 Ballard Signs Supply Agreement With A Major European OEM For Fuel Cell Bus Modules
12.14.2011 New Berlin Airport Gets Fuel Cell Vehicle To Go With CO2 Neutral Gas Station
12.16.2011 Fuel Cell Powers Up Festivities at Secretary Chu’s Holiday Party
12.19.2011 Green Gardening with the Fuel Cell EcoMotion Truck
12.20.2011 Ballard Clean Energy Fuel Cell Modules Power BC Transit Bus Fleet Thru 1-Million Miles of Service
12.21.2011 First APFCT Scooter Completes 15,000 km on the Road
12.26.2011 Hydrogen-fuel Battery" May Keep Future iPhones, iPads and Macbooks Powered for Weeks
12.27.2011 Ballard Signs LOI To Power 25 Clean Energy Hydrogen Fuel Cell Buses in Sao Paulo, Brazil
12.28.2011 Never Mind Solyndra: Fuel Cell Industry Growing with Government Support
12.30.2011 CES Preview: Fuel Cells Coming To Gadgets, Finally
12.31.2011 What the H?: Everything You Need to Know About a Hydrogen-Fueled Future
Fuel Cell Lift Trucks: A Grocer's Best Friend
Baldor Specialty Foods, located in the Bronx, New York, has a mission—to provide the finest and the freshest seasonal produce from local farms in the northeast region of the United States and from around the globe. Established in 1991, Baldor has two locations and a successful online ordering system that covers all of New York City and the greater Boston area and is committed to meeting the highest quality standards.
So what keeps Mike Muzyk, Baldor President, up at night?
The thought of all that fresh food going to waste. And the fastest way for that to happen? Not being able to transport it from the warehouse to the store floor.
Enter Oorja Protonics, a fuel cell manufacturing company located in Fremont, California. Founded in 2005, Oorja Protonics has developed a fuel cell that uses a common, readily-available liquid fuel, methanol. Today, Oorja Protonics provides fuel cells for the material handling industry, including 50 lift trucks at Baldor Specialty Store.
Oorja’s fuel cell operates as an on-board battery charger for the lift trucks and the sensors keep the vehicle's battery at a constant state of charge. By eliminating the need for battery swapping and rapid charging, these fuel cells ensure food is transported swiftly and efficiently. Refueling takes less than one minute, improving productivity and supplying enough power for an entire shift.
“Baldor Foods is excited to be working with Oorja to help us achieve our corporate sustainability goals,” said Muzyk. “We are very impressed by the technology, as it is environmentally-friendly and will also help us save costs and improve productivity.”
The Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy funded efforts that helped develop the components that go into the fuel cells that power these lift trucks. By funding the demonstration of a limited number of fuel cell lift trucks, the Department helped establish the viability of these products, which has ignited a new market and led to the deployment of hundreds of lift trucks at several locations across the United States.
Working in conjunction with National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), the Department has been analyzing the performance of Oorja’s fuel cell lift trucks at grocery distributors around the country, including Unified Grocers in the Western United States, Earp Distribution in Kansas City, and Testa Produce, in Chicago. So far, NREL data has shown that Oorja’s fuel cell powered lift trucks can operate for 14 hours -- more than double the autonomy of a battery powered lift truck. In addition, fuel cell powered lift trucks avoid deep discharges —- extending battery life by 50%.
What does this mean for grocers around the country and businessmen like Mike Muzyk? Fresher products... and a good night’s rest.
For more information about fuel cells, visit the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Fuel Cell Technologies Program.
Baldor Specialty Foods relies on fuel cell technology from Oorja Protonics to power lift-trucks like the one pictured above, refueling takes less than one minute | Photo Courtesy of Oorja Protonics.
Ballard and Anglo American Unveil 150kW Fuel Cell System Demonstration at COP17 Conference
VANCOUVER - Ballard Power Systems announced that a 150 kilowatt (kW) fuel cell system supplied by Dantherm Power, Ballard's backup power company, to Anglo American Platinum Limited (www.angloamericanplatinum.com) has been deployed near The 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, a high-level summit on climate change being held in Durban, South Africa (http://www.cop17-cmp7durban.com/). Sale of the system was announced in October.
Neville Nicolau, CEO of Anglo American Platinum Limited said, "This demonstration highlights the importance of fuel cells to our business. Fuel cell power systems in commercial production can increase the energy efficiency of our mining operations, make efficient use of by-product hydrogen in South Africa and provide growth in global platinum demand. Fuel cells further highlight the green credentials of platinum - in this case as an enabler of energy efficiency."
The zero-emission fuel cell system is demonstrating clean energy production during COP17, which runs from November 28 to December 9, by supplying power to the local electricity grid. Following COP17 Anglo American Platinum plans to redeploy the system to provide power at one of its mining operations in South Africa.
"With approximately 20,000 delegates participating in the Conference, this deployment is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the benefits of fuel cell backup power systems and raise awareness of the readiness of fuel cell technology for a range of new vertical market applications, including mining," said John Sheridan, Ballard's President and CEO.
During COP17, fuel for the system is being provided by Air Products South Africa (Pty) Limited, a subsidiary of U.S.-based Air Products and Chemicals Inc. which operates an extensive hydrogen pipeline network around the globe and is investing in development of commercial hydrogen production in South Africa. Some of the hydrogen generated by Air Products in South Africa and elsewhere is a by-product of industrial chlor-alkali production, which enhances the cost-effectiveness of power produced by fuel cell systems.
About Ballard Power Systems
Ballard Power Systems (TSX: BLD) (NASDAQ: BLDP) provides clean energy fuel cell products enabling optimized power systems for a range of applications. Products are based on proprietary esencia™ technology, ensuring incomparable performance, durability and versatility. To learn more about Ballard, please visit www.ballard.com.
Gasoline Fuel Cell Would Boost Electric Car Range
The advanced fuel cell could eliminate range anxiety and make electric cars more practical, while keeping carbon-dioxide emissions low.
If you want to take an electric car on a long drive, you need a gas-powered generator, like the one in the Chevrolet Volt, to extend its range. The problem is that when it's running on the generator, it's no more efficient than a conventional car. In fact, it's even less efficient, because it has a heavy battery pack to lug around.
Now researchers at the University of Maryland have made a fuel cell that could provide a far more efficient alternative to a gasoline generator. Like all fuel cells, it generates electricity through a chemical reaction, rather than by burning fuel, and can be twice as efficient at generating electricity as a generator that uses combustion.
The researchers' fuel cell is a greatly improved version of a type that has a solid ceramic electrolyte, and is known as a solid-oxide fuel cell. Unlike the hydrogen fuel cells typically used in cars, solid-oxide fuel cells can run on a variety of readily available fuels, including diesel, gasoline, and natural gas. They've been used for generating power for buildings, but they've been considered impractical for use in cars because they're far too big and because they operate at very high temperatures—typically at about 900 ⁰C.
By developing new electrolyte materials and changing the cell's design, the researchers made a fuel cell that is much more compact. It can produce 10 times as much power, for its size, as a conventional one, and could be smaller than a gasoline engine while producing as much power.
The researchers have also lowered the temperature at which the fuel cell operates by hundreds of degrees, which will allow them to use cheaper materials. "It's a huge difference in cost," says Eric Wachsman, director of the University of Maryland Energy Research Center, who led the research. He says the researchers have identified simple ways to improve the power output and reduce the temperature further still, using methods that are already showing promising results it the lab. These advances could bring costs to a point that they are competitive with gasoline engines. Wachsman says he's in the early stages of starting a company to commercialize the technology.
Wachsman's fuel cells currently operate at 650 ⁰C, and his goal is to bring that down to 350 ⁰C for use in cars. Insulating the fuel cells isn't difficult since they're small—a fuel cell stack big enough to power a car would only need to be 10 centimeters on a side. High temperatures are a bigger problem because they make it necessary to use expensive, heat-resistant materials within the device, and because heating the cell to operating temperatures takes a long time. By bringing the temperatures down, Wachsman can use cheaper materials and decrease the amount of time it takes the cell to start.
Even with these advances, the fuel cell wouldn't come on instantly, and turning it on and off with every short trip in the car would cause a lot of wear and tear, reducing its lifetime. Instead, it would be paired with a battery pack, as a combustion engine is in the Volt, Wachsman says. The fuel cell could then run more steadily, serving to keep the battery topped without providing bursts of acceleration.
The researchers achieved their result largely by modifying the solid electrolyte material at the core of a solid-oxide fuel cell. In fuel cells on the market, such as one made by Bloom Energy, the electrolyte has to be made thick enough to provide structural support. But the thickness of the electrolyte limits power generation. Over the last several years, researchers have been developing designs that don't require the electrolyte to support the cell so they can make the electrolyte thinner and achieve high power output at lower temperatures. The University of Maryland researchers took this a step further by developing new multilayered electrolytes that increase the power output still more.
The work is part of a larger U.S. Department of Energy effort, over the past decade, to make solid-oxide fuel cells practical. The first fruits of that effort likely won't be fuel cells in cars—so far, Wachsman has only made relatively small fuel cells, and significant engineering work remains to be done. The first applications of solid oxide fuels in vehicles may be on long-haul trucks with sleeper cabs.
Equipment suppliers such as Delphi and Cummins are developing fuel cells that can power the air conditioners, TVs, and microwaves inside the cabs, potentially cutting fuel consumption by 85 percent compared to idling the truck's engine. The Delphi system also uses a design that allows for a thinner electrolyte, but it operates at higher temperatures than Wachsman's fuel cell. The fuel cell could be turned on Monday, and left to run at low rates all week and still get the 85 percent reduction. Delphi has built a prototype and plans to demonstrate its system on a truck next year.
BIC acquires Angstrom Power, plans fuel cell chargers for portable devices
BIC Group reports that its Canadian subsidiary has acquired the assets of Angstrom Power in Vancouver, which is developing portable fuel cell technology.
For nearly a decade the French-based BIC Group has been developing hydrogen fuel cartridges, which produce hydrogen on demand using patented BIC technology. These cartridges can be connected to a fuel cell device, and replaced once the fuel is depleted.
Angstrom Power has been developing portable fuel cell devices over a similar timescale.
The acquisition is expected to show that BIC’s hydrogen fuel cartridge technology and the Angstrom thin-film fuel cell technology work very well together. BIC and Angstrom prototype designs have both demonstrated high levels of performance and efficiency.
Companies whose devices rely on rechargeable batteries have shown strong interest in the promise of such fuel cell technology. BIC expects to bring a portable fuel cell device and fuel cartridge to market in two to five years.
By offering instant, constant and extended power, portable fuel cells will give the consumer convenient access to power whenever and wherever they need it, as an alternative to plugging into a wall socket.
Angstrom Power’s innovative Micro Hydrogen™ technology – which integrates novel fuel cell, energy storage, and microfluidic components – has demonstrated superior performance at scales equivalent to lithium-ion batteries in today’s mobile devices.
‘Angstrom has advanced its fuel cell technology to the point where investment is required in new areas, including marketing and distribution,’ says Paul Zimmerman, CEO of Angstrom Power. ‘BIC’s complementary capabilities in these areas – combined with their state-of-the-art fuel cartridge technology – make BIC the ideal acquirer for Angstrom.’
UPS Systems lights Trafalgar’s iconic Christmas tree
UPS Systems has donated a fuel cell system to light Trafalgar Square’s Christmas tree. The fuel cell will power the star on top of the tree throughout December and the New Year.
Military Fuel Cell Shipments to Reach 272,000 Units Annually by 2017, According to Pike Research
BOULDER, Colo. -- The U.S. military is the single largest consumer of energy in the world. As such, the volatility of the international oil markets represents a significant strategic risk to the operational capabilities of the U.S. Armed Forces. Realizing the need to mitigate this strategic vulnerability, U.S. military leaders are actively promoting the development of new technologies, including fuel cells. The increased emphasis on energy security and efficiency, particularly under the complex and challenging operational conditions encountered in remote battlefield environments such as Afghanistan, represents a significant opportunity for fuel cell manufacturers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). According to a recent report from Pike Research, shipments of fuel cells for military applications will increase to more than 272,000 in 2017, from just over 1,200 in 2011.
That will translate into revenues of $1.2 billion for military fuel cells in 2017, up from only $9 million in 2011, the cleantech market intelligence firm finds.
"Fuel cells will be used in a range of applications by military agencies, including stationary power, mobile electric power, auxiliary power units, unmanned vehicles, and non-tactical vehicles," says research director Kerry-Ann Adamson. "The largest opportunities for military fuel cells, however, lie in 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, and in power for unmanned sensors and surveillance systems."
The strongest drivers for the adoption of fuel cells by the world's armed forces are performance and energy density, particularly for use by individual troopers. On average, each soldier carries around nine pounds of disposable batteries in their kit, used for powering a range of portable electronics such as imaging and communications equipment. The burden on today's soldiers to carry more and more high-tech equipment is increasing, and the batteries required to power all this equipment already constitutes an impractical percentage of total weight. Fuel cells, with a far greater energy density than conventional military batteries, represent an excellent means of lightening the load for soldiers and systems in the field.
Nevertheless, fuel cell manufacturers face formidable barriers in their pursuit of the military market. 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 difficult for some vendors to meet.
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 www.pikeresearch.com or call +1.303.997.7609.
Plug power announces new multi-site gendrive fuel cell customer
Fuel Cells to Power Lift Trucks at Three P&G Manufacturing Facilities
LATHAM, NY – Plug Power Inc., a leader in providing clean, reliable energy solutions, today announced that Procter & Gamble Co. (P&G) has selected its GenDrive® fuel cell products to power lift trucks at three P&G manufacturing facilities across the United States. Plug Power will supply P&G facilities in California, Louisiana and North Carolina with more than 200 GenDrive fuel cell units combined for its electric lift truck fleet, helping to drive down operating costs and improve process efficiencies.
Plug Power’s GenDrive fuel cell products directly address lead-acid battery degradation and operating efficiency issues. Over a shift, lead-acid batteries quickly lose charge, resulting in decreased lift truck performance. Plug Power GenDrive fuel cells provide material handling facilities with a constant and reliable power source, ensuring that lift trucks run at full speed for the entire work period. On average, GenDrive customers increase productivity by up to 15 percent and lower operational costs by up to 30 percent.
GenDrive fuel cells are powered by hydrogen and can be re-fueled in two to three minutes - minimizing down time for the truck and its operator. Lead-acid batteries need to be changed, charged, stored and maintained, a process that is timely, involves costly infrastructure, occupies valuable floor space and taxes an already inefficient electric grid.
Finally, because GenDrive is fueled by hydrogen, only heat and water are generated as byproducts of electricity creation. P&G estimates greenhouse gas emission reductions of up to 60 percent.
“Plug Power’s GenDrive product is delivering increased fleet productivity, decreased facility operating costs and reduced greenhouse gas emissions at customer sites throughout North America,” said Andy Marsh, CEO at Plug Power. “By deploying GenDrive fuel cell products at multiple facilities, P&G will lessen its environmental impact while realizing increased productivity, reduced operating costs and better predictability of its fleet performance.”
About Plug Power Inc.
The architects of modern fuel cell technology, Plug Power revolutionized the industry with cost-effective power solutions that increase productivity, lower operating costs and reduce carbon footprints. Long-standing relationships with industry leaders forged the path for Plug Power’s key accounts, including Wegmans, Whole Foods, and FedEx Freight. With more than 1,500 GenDrive units shipped to material handling customers, accumulating over 5 million hours of runtime, Plug Power manufactures tomorrow’s incumbent power solutions today. Additional information about Plug Power is available at www.plugpower.com.
Opening up the market to fuel cell technologies
Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies co-founder Taras Wankewycz has an interesting proposition – he wants people to ‘hack’ his company’s technology.
In simpler terms, he wants to challenge entrepreneurs to take apart his company’s products, which were on display at last month’s Clean Energy Expo Asia 2011 in Singapore,and adapt them for their own uses – an approach called open source innovation. A well-known example of this approach is the way Smartphone makers encourage phone users to develop their own phone applications and share them within a user network.
To make it easy for people, the company sells a kit on its website, called the ‘Open source application development kit’ which contains fuel cell components in addition to an Arduino Uno electronics board.
Arduino micro-controller boards are one of the most widely used electronics control devices that people can use to build their own electronics innovations. Software for the boards is available to download for free, and fans of the system have uploaded over 45,000 YouTube videos with information and instructions for different uses.
In a recent interview with Eco-Business, chief marketing officer Mr. Wankewycz said this initiative is one of the ways the company is creating a vibrant fuel cell industry.
A French national, Mr. Wankewycz worked in business development, research and marketing across Europe and the United States before coming to Asia to work at Eastman Chemical in China. There, he met one of his Horizon co-founders, George Gu.
Horizon’s founders decided to take advantage of the relatively low costs of setting up a business in Asia, and started the company in 2003 with its R&D centre in western Singapore’s Pandan Loop and its manufacturing centre in China.
The company is already leading the industry with its innovative approach to doing business. The firm says that its sales have surpassed its target for the greatest number of fuel cells sold within the industry.
Currently, its offerings include a range of portable chargers, fuel cell packs and fuel cell generators for household and industrial use. The firm also makes a series of science kits that teach children about different renewable energy technologies.
Horizon’s products can all be charged or fuelled using readily-available sources. In the case of the industrial back-up generators – sold as a cheaper, more reliable alternative to diesel generators for low power purposes – the system uses compressed hydrogen tanks that are widely available for industrial uses. Other products, such as an emergency power supply, use refillable cartridges that – unlike batteries – do not lose power when stored on a shelf.
Now with five divisions spread acrossAsia and, more recently, San Francisco, Horizon has turned its Singapore location into a specialized research and development (R&D) centre for aerospace technology. Fuel cell power packs, charged using portable chemical cartridges, perform three times better than lithium batteries for running the unmanned aerial vehicles used by the military, noted Mr. Wankewycz.
The firm’s innovative approachall started with a toy car.
Horizon crafted its business strategy from a run-of-the-mill investor meeting, for which they had built a toy-size model car to demonstrate the technology.
By miniaturizing its products, the firm discovered it could create awareness and critical mass for the technology without many of the pitfalls that befall larger projects. Horizon’s products are designed to be used conveniently and safely – since they do not require hydrogen to be transported in its explosive, gaseous form – from day one. By getting the products into everyday use, through hobby shops for instance, Horizon increased public exposure to the technology.
Larger projects, such as fuel cell passenger cars, have so far failed to break into the market, he explained, because there was no affordable, readily available hydrogen fuel supply. The scale of infrastructure needed to support fuel cell vehicles – which would be on par with the current system of petrol stations – cannot be done with government support, he added.
The toy car that Horizon developed to demonstrate the technology of its larger cousins, by contrast, could be quickly displayed on the shelves of stores that sold science kits and model cars, and without the need for an additional fuel source. The car, which comes with a miniature solar panel to charge the fuel cell, is now sold on Amazon.
Its success led it to be named a Time Magazine ‘Best Invention’ in 2006, and it went on to become one of the best-selling fuel cell products on the market, said Mr. Wankewycz.
But inventing new products with only 150 employees globally is hard to do, so Horizon’s founders are looking for new ways to innovate.
In addition to the open source innovation it plans to foster, the firm has partnered with independent companies in 25 countries around the world, which now have access to its brand and core technologies. These companies develop the market for Horizon fuel cells for distribution within their own countries, help identify new uses for the technology and create new partnerships.
Mr. Wankewycz said that some of those companies undertake R&D to create their own Horizon products, which they can then market through Horizon’s global network.
To succeed in the marketplace, fuel cell products have to perform better and provide cheaper energy than the alternatives, said Mr. Wankewycz, who added that the company’s marketing strategy did not focus on the environmental benefits of fuel cells.
He believes that Horizon has nearly solved the cost issue.
Within the next year, Horizon will launch its home countertop refueling station, which will use electricity to extract hydrogen from water to refuel its fuel cell cartridges. Called ‘Hydrostiks’, the cartridges absorb hydrogen into a metal filling that can be safely transported and contains no hazardous chemicals. For powering personal electronic devices, which is done through a portable charger equipped with USB ports, one Hydrostik holds the energy equivalent of 10 batteries.
Horizon expects to sell millions once the product is officially launched. Initially, the product will be sold in Australia, the Czech Republic and the US, as well as on Amazon.
This version has an electrical plug, but eventually, he said, he hoped to cut the cord and have it run using electricity generated on site through renewable sources.The company plans to develop larger versions to refuel cars in garages, and also for industrial uses.
Mr. Wankewycz considers the home power generation a ‘game changer’. “For every commercial hydrogen station that gets built, Horizon can equip hundreds of thousands of homes with hydrogen stations,” he said.
To make hydrogen fuel cell power completely emissions-free, however, the industry will need new innovations in fuel sources.
Horizon’s industrial fuel cell generators require canisters of compressed hydrogen that is usually derived from natural gas, a fossil fuel that, while cleaner and more widely available than oil, still produces greenhouse gas emissions. The water-based fuel cell charging systems do not need natural gas, but they do require electricity which, unless derived from a renewable energy source such as solar or wind, will have a carbon footprint.
Horizon is actively seeking out new partnerships that might lead to carbon-freeenergy sources.
Earlier this year, technology firm Pilus Energy announced a partnership with Horizon to explore using biogas generated from waste and wastewater to produce hydrogen for fuel cells.
Mr Wankewycz said that this announcement was “only a sign of things to come” and that other innovators will join Horizon to develop additional green hydrogen options, including hydrogen produced as a by-product of artificial photosynthesis.
Some of those innovators may come from the next generation of scientists that Horizon is helping to train. The firm uses its science kits in partnershipwith multimedia companies to run educational programs in a growing number of communities around the world. The education programs, along with national science competitions, are part of a Horizon outreach campaign aimed at helping young scientists understand how different energy technologies fit together.
Mr. Wankewycz said that Horizon has a mission to be a world leader in clean technology innovation and education. “Our generation has a limited time to make an impact (on reducing climate change). We need to get the younger generation moving on clean energy technology,” he said.
Horizon’s open attitude towards sharing its technology stands out in a sector notable for problems with intellectual property and competitors copying technology.
But Mr. Wankewycz said he is not worried about competitors. He noted that Horizon has established a cost-competitive business model and added that he welcomes competition because he wants to encourage take-up of the technology.
“If we make it easy for people to create fuel cell products, undoubtedly some of them will,” he noted.
New energy sources fuel interest from Secretary of the Navy
Underscoring the importance of alternative energy for the military, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus visited Marine Corps Base Hawaii Dec. 7 to learn about possible Department of the Navy-wide applications for Office of Naval Research (ONR)-funded fuel cell vehicles (FCV) and high-efficiency trash disposal technology.
Mabus, who also attended events marking the 70th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, was updated on progress with General Motors Equinox FCVs sponsored by ONR, five of which are located in Hawaii. The vehicles are being tested for possible use at Department of the Navy (DON) installations, and fuel cell technology is being considered as a potential power source for unmanned undersea vehicles (UUV), auxiliary power units, pier-side generators and other applications.
"To meet the secretary's energy goals, we need alternative, clean and reliable energy sources," said Dr. Richard Carlin, director of ONR's Sea Warfare and Weapons department, which has a focus area in alternative fuels. "Fuel cells provide a means to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels by using sustainable alternative fuels and by increasing energy efficiency. They also provide advantages to tactical platforms, including ships and unmanned vehicles, by increasing platform ranges and reducing detectable heat and acoustic signatures."
The FCV program at Marine Corps Base Hawaii has increased the percentage of "green" vehicles at the base to 30. It is anticipated that by the end of 2012, more than 50 percent of the base vehicle fleet will use alternative fuels, with that number increasing to 70 percent by 2015.
A significant hurdle to making fuel cells widely available is the difficulty of cost-effectively producing and delivering hydrogen in large quantities. ONR is working with researchers at the University of Hawaii at Manoa's Hawaii Natural Energy Institute, the Department of Energy and other public and private organizations to tackle this challenge.
Once solved, FCV deployment could be part of the answer to replacing gasoline-powered vehicles in on-base transportation fleets. This would help achieve the secretary's goal of reducing fossil fuel use in DON's commercial vehicle fleet.
In addition to the FCV, Mabus heard firsthand about the Micro Auto Gasification System (MAGS), a high-tech trash disposal process that can reduce a 50-gallon bag of waste to a half-pint jar of harmless ash. The MAGS unit is currently undergoing evaluation by U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific at Camp HM Smith, Hawaii.
Hydrogen fuel cells create electricity through a chemical reaction between hydrogen and an oxidizing agent, typically oxygen from the air, or a stored oxygen source when air is not available. The byproduct, or emission, is water. Because of their fuel efficiencies, fuel cells offer an attractive alternative to gasoline and other fossil fuels.
Other ONR-funded research efforts with fuel cells include the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL)-developed Ion Tiger unmanned aerial vehicle, which set an endurance record for a fuel cell-powered aircraft after more than 24 continuous hours of flight. NRL is also testing this technology as a potential power source for long-endurance UUVs.
Future ONR research will test the viability of using fuel cells—as well as alternative fuels, including biofuels—as a stationary source of off-board power. Fuel cell technology is just one component of ONR's energy research portfolio aimed at helping DON meet its goal of generating 50 percent of shore energy—land-based power used for docked vessels—from alternative sources by 2020.
Two Office of Naval Research (ONR)-sponsored Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCVs) are operating at the Marine Corps base at Camp Pendleton, Calif. FCVs represent a radical departure from vehicles with conventional internal combustion engines, potentially generating more than twice the amount of energy without the noise or emissions. ONR and its partners across the Department of Defense and private industry are looking at fuel cell power to expand warfighter capabilities, whether to reduce the size and weight of man-portable devices or to meet the megawattage requirements for shipboard power.
Credit: US Navy photo by Scott Brierley/RELEASED
Fuel Cells, Solar, Wind — Head-to-Head Clean Tech Comparison
Fuel cells offer a highly efficient, reliable and increasingly durable means of generating clean electrical energy independent of the grid or integrated with grid power. Installations are growing across a wide range of applications, from combined heat and power (CHP) generation at commercial, industrial, government and educational facilities to hybrid electric vehicles and consumer electronics.
They’re also being evaluated as a means of storing intermittent electricity production from wind power farms and wastewater-to-energy treatment plants, as well as capturing CO2 and NOX emissions from coal-fired power plants.
Fuel cells’ “green” credentials continue to be questioned, however, especially when the fuel used to produce the hydrogen used by alkaline fuel cells is methane in the form of natural or biogas. According to the infographic above, which was provided by fuel cell systems designer and manufacturer UTC Power, these criticisms are misplaced.
Vodacom tests fuel-cell powered base-station at COP17
Vodacom has tested a hybrid base-station powered by renewable energy and fuel-cells, providing coverage to delegates at COP17
Over the past two weeks, Vodacom used a base-station powered by renewable energy and fuel-cells to provide cellphone service to over 15 000 delegates at the COP17 conference in Durban.
The hybrid-energy base-station uses wind, solar and fuel-cell energy to operate.
Vodacom developed a hybrid energy system which gets 30 percent of its energy from solar and wind power, and 70 percent from fuel-cell technology. The fuel cells used to power the tower are quiet, produce no particulate matter and produce very little emissions of carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide.
When used in combination with renewable energy, the hybrid system produces only 35 percent of the carbon dioxide a diesel generator would – or about 55 percent of the carbon dioxide that an average South African power grid typically produces.
The service available at COP17 included both GSM and HSDPA, which delivered voice and mobile broadband coverage to delegates and visitors. The company also provided UN officials with 500 handsets and SIM cards to ensure that they stayed connected during the conference.
This recent trial of going “green” follows similar tests by Vodafone, Vodacom’s parent company, at the GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier this year.
SF State, PG&E dedicate fuel cell plant
San Francisco State University and Pacific Gas and Electric on Thursday dedicated a new fuel cell plant that will generate clean power for the utility's electricity grid -- and lower the University's heating costs.
SF State is working collaboratively with PG&E, which will own and operate the plant. The demonstration project was approved by the California Public Utilities Commission and includes the construction of fuel cell facilities on several California State University and University of California campuses.
"For SF State, this fuel cell plant represents the latest step in our longstanding and comprehensive commitment to sustainability," President Robert A. Corrigan said at Thursday's dedication ceremony. "Four years ago, when the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment was launched, this campus was one of the first to sign on. I knew that we were being asked to set ambitious goals for ourselves, but I had no doubt that we had the heart and the talent to do it."
The plant consists of two fuel cell systems and technologies that generate a total of 1,600 kilowatts or 1.6 megawatts of electrical power connected directly to PG&E's local distribution grid -- enough to power about 1,200 homes. SF State invested $550,000 to connect the fuel cell plant with the campus's heating infrastructure. The waste heat captured from the fuel cell system is used to heat campus buildings. The University will earn back its investment through an estimated $250,000 in annual savings from lower heating costs.
There are educational benefits as well. Corrigan noted the University has built sustainability into its academic life and a growing number of classes from a wide range of disciplines focus on the topic.
"Appropriately, this fuel cell plant will itself become a research and learning center for our faculty and students," Corrigan said.
For more information about the fuel cell project, visit http://www.sfsu.edu/~build/construct/fuelcell.htm.
Energy Department Awards More Than $7 Million for Innovative Hydrogen Storage Technologies in Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles
The U.S. Department of Energy today announced more than $7 million to fund four projects in California, Washington, and Oregon to advance hydrogen storage technologies to be used in fuel cell electric vehicles. The 3-year projects will help lower the costs and increase the performance of hydrogen storage systems by developing innovative materials and advanced tanks for efficient and safe transportation. These investments are a part of the Department's commitment to U.S. leadership in advanced fuel cell technology research to help domestic automakers bring more fuel cell electric vehicles into the mainstream market.
"Targeted investments in cutting-edge hydrogen storage technologies will spur American ingenuity, accelerate breakthroughs, and increase our competitiveness in the global clean energy economy," said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "As we focus on energy security, strengthening our portfolio to include domestically-produced hydrogen and American-made fuel cells for transportation and energy storage applications will create new jobs and reduce carbon pollution."
The Energy Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is providing more than $7 million to the selected organizations, which are in turn providing close to $2 million in cost share. The projects focus on lowering the cost of compressed hydrogen storage systems and developing advanced materials for hydrogen storage. Compressed hydrogen storage provides a near-term pathway to commercialization, and reducing the costs of compressed tank systems will accelerate their market availability and adoption. Advanced materials-based hydrogen storage technologies will enable more efficient storage at lower pressures than current compressed hydrogen tanks.
As part of DOE's portfolio of zero-emission electric vehicle technologies that reduce dependence on foreign oil, the innovations achieved through these projects will address technical barriers to storing hydrogen onboard fuel cell electric vehicles. The research may also advance energy storage applications that could enable more efficient use of renewable energy sources like wind and solar power.
The four projects selected for award are:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory – Richland, Washington – Up to $2.1 million
DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, in collaboration with Ford Motor Company, Lincoln Composites, Toray Carbon Fibers America, Inc. and AOC Inc., will use a coordinated approach to reduce the costs associated with compressed hydrogen storage systems. The project will focus on improving carbon fiber composite materials and the design and manufacture of hydrogen storage tanks. Through these advances, the team expects to lower the cost of manufacturing high-pressure hydrogen storage vessels by more than a third relative to current projections.
HRL Laboratories, LLC – Malibu, California – Up to $1.2 million
HRL Laboratories will investigate an innovative approach to hydrogen storage using engineered liquids that can efficiently absorb and release hydrogen gas. Liquids confined in porous structures have been shown to absorb significantly more gas and could create sites for hydrogen molecules that did not exist in the bulk liquid alone. HRL will use this concept to develop composite materials capable of dissolving up to 50 times greater quantities of hydrogen than in the bulk liquid, with the goal of enabling a high density, compact hydrogen storage option.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory – Berkeley, California – Up to $2.1 million
DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, partnering with the National Institute of Standards and Technology and General Motors, will use a theory-guided approach to synthesize novel materials with high hydrogen adsorption capacities. The team will develop and test "metal-organic framework" materials that have surfaces allowing high density of hydrogen, as well as materials with pores engineered to enable hydrogen storage at near-ambient temperatures.
University of Oregon – Eugene, Oregon – Up to $2.0 million
The University of Oregon, along with The University of Alabama, DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Protonex Technology Corporation, will develop and test promising new materials for hydrogen storage. The proposed chemical hydrogen storage materials could enable liquid refueling, and regeneration of the hydrogen storage material, within temperature and pressure ranges suitable for both onboard mobile and stationary fuel cell applications.
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.
FuelCell Energy Enters Into Partnership Agreement With Abengoa to Develop Localized Fuel Cell Power Plants for Europe and Latin America
Targeting Renewable Biogas and Bioethanol Market Opportunities in Europe and Latin America
300 Kilowatt Pilot Project to be Installed at Abengoa Headquarters in Seville, Spain
DANBURY, Conn. -- FuelCell Energy, Inc. a leading manufacturer of ultra-clean, efficient and reliable power plants, today announced a partnership agreement with Abengoa S.A. to develop localized stationary fuel cell power plants for markets in Europe and Latin America. Abengoa will develop, manufacture and market stationary fuel cell power plants using fuel cell modules provided by FuelCell Energy. The initial pilot installation will be at the Abengoa headquarters in Palmas Campus Palmas Altas, Spain using a 300 kilowatt proprietary Direct FuelCell(R) (DFC(R)) module supplied by FuelCell Energy and balance of plant designed and manufactured by Abengoa. Renewable biogas markets will be targeted and the parties will cooperate to enhance the capability and market opportunities for DFC power plants operating on liquid biofuels.
"FuelCell Energy has developed leading edge carbonate fuel cell technology that is unsurpassed for meeting utility-scale power needs for ultra-clean baseload distributed generation" said Javier Brey, General Manager of Abengoa Hidrógeno. "The fit is natural between our organizations and we look forward to growing the market for ultra-clean and efficient distributed generation fuel cell power plants in Spain as well as in Europe and Latin America, where we already have a presence. We will develop and manufacture in Spain stationary carbonate fuel cell plants by starting from FCE technology, and it will increase also the value of our partnership. In the short term, we plan to develop technology together."
The partners will target markets in Europe and Latin America for megawatt-class DFC power plants, focusing on municipalities, large industrial power users and facilities that generate renewable biogas. These markets value high efficiency, distributed generation and the ability to generate virtually emission-free clean power from renewable fuels, all attributes of DFC power plants. DFC power plants are fuel flexible, capable of operating on clean natural gas or renewable biogas.
Under the partnership, Abengoa will use its experience with biofuels to develop a fuel processing system that will support the use of liquid biofuels as a fuel source for DFC power plants. Ultra-clean, efficient and reliable fuel cell power plants that can operate on liquid biofuels are attractive in Latin American markets such as Brazil where sugar cane is widely used as a feedstock to create ethanol.
"Abengoa has experience developing fuel cell systems with value added capabilities" said Chip Bottone, President and Chief Executive Officer for FuelCell Energy, Inc. "When combined with their European and Latin American business and marketing reach through the Abengoa organization, we see excellent prospects for market expansion in Europe as well as developing the Latin American market for ultra-clean baseload distributed generation fuel cell power plants."
Fuel cells generate power through an electrochemical reaction that does not require combustion. Due to this lack of combustion, fuel cells emit virtually no pollutants, resulting in the generation of ultra-clean electricity. Fuel cells can achieve up to 90 percent efficiency when configured to use the high quality heat generated by the power plant in a combined heat & power (CHP) mode. High efficiency reduces fuel costs and carbon emissions and producing both electricity and heat from the same unit of fuel drives economics while simultaneously promoting sustainability. Biogas producers require heat in their processes so the ability for DFC plants to use biogas as a fuel and produce both ultra-clean power and usable heat helps convert a waste disposal challenge into an economical and environmentally friendly power generation solution.
The world-class Direct FuelCell technology of FuelCell Energy will be combined with the extensive customer network and service expertise of Abengoa to sell DFC fuel cells in the target geographies. FuelCell Energy will export fuel cell modules manufactured at the Company's production facility in the USA and Abengoa will supply Spanish designed and built balance of plant to complete the fuel cell power plant. Completion of a distribution agreement is expected to follow this announcement within the next six months.
Abengoa (mce:ABG) is an international company that applies innovative technology solutions for sustainable development in the energy and environment sectors, generating electricity from the sun, producing biofuels, desalinating sea water and recycling industrial waste. For further information: www.abengoa.com
About FuelCell Energy
Direct FuelCell(R) power plants are generating ultra-clean, efficient and reliable power at more than 50 locations worldwide. With over 180 megawatts of power generation capacity installed or in backlog, FuelCell Energy is a global leader in providing ultra-clean baseload distributed generation to utilities, industrial operations, universities, municipal water treatment facilities, government installations and other customers around the world. The Company's power plants have generated over 900 million kWh of power using a variety of fuels including renewable biogas from wastewater treatment and food processing, as well as clean natural gas. For more information please visit our website at www.fuelcellenergy.com
Ballard Signs Supply Agreement With A Major European OEM For Fuel Cell Bus Modules
Second sale to Van Hool, strengthening relationship with one of Europe's largest original equipment manufacturers of buses
21 FCvelocityTM-HD6 modules to power zero-emission buses
VANCOUVER - Ballard Power Systems announced that it has signed an equipment supply agreement with Van Hool NV, Europe's fourth largest bus manufacturer, for 21 of the company's latest-generation FCvelocityTM-HD6 fuel cell power modules.
The 21 FCvelocityTM-HD6 modules will power zero-emission buses to be deployed in several European cities, which will be named following completion of the associated contracts between Van Hool and public transit authorities in these cities. It is expected that the majority of the modules will be shipped in 2012.
Van Hool is a Belgian-based independent bus, coach and industrial vehicle OEM with a long history of innovation in bus manufacturing. The company previously engineered and produced five hybrid fuel cell buses, using Ballard power modules, for deployment in Oslo, Norway.
Mr. Leopold Van Hool, Managing Director of the company said, "We are very pleased to be utilizing Ballard fuel cell modules, building on its proven track record of reliability and durability. These modules are compact and offer integration flexibility, while delivering the high performance required for heavy duty city buses. Ballard's commitment to the European fuel cell bus market is second to none."
These bus deployments are being supported by European Joint Technology Initiative (JTI) funding provided under the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCHJU) program, which is a part of Europe's Sustainable Energy Technology (SET) Plan. The SET Plan provides a framework to accelerate development and deployment of cost-effective low carbon and zero-emission technologies.
John Sheridan, Ballard's President and CEO added, "This agreement represents an important step toward fuel cell bus commercialization and strengthens our position with Van Hool in the fuel cell bus market. Moreover, it is a strong indicator of positive growth potential for clean fuel cell-powered buses within the larger global transit marketplace."
Ballard's sixth generation FCvelocityTM-HD6 fuel cell module features a control unit which interfaces with a system controller to make this a "plug-and-play" product for any fuel cell or hybrid fuel cell bus platform. The module also offers significant advances in durability, power density and fuel efficiency compared to earlier generation products. Ballard has actively participated in previous successful European fuel cell hybrid bus field tests, including the CUTE (Clean Urban Transport for Europe) and HyFLEET:CUTE projects.
About Ballard Power Systems
Ballard Power Systems (TSX: BLD) (NASDAQ: BLDP) provides clean energy fuel cell products enabling optimized power systems for a range of applications. Products are based on proprietary esencia™ technology, ensuring incomparable performance, durability and versatility. To learn more about Ballard, please visit www.ballard.com.
New Berlin Airport Gets Fuel Cell Vehicle To Go With CO2 Neutral Gas Station
The under-construction Berlin Brandenburg Airport will soon be home to a GM-powered fuel cell vehicle, courtesy Opel.
Opel will be providing the airport with a zero-emissions HydroGen4 vehicle, which is based on the Chevy Equinox and features a range of 320 kilometers. The vehicle will be used on a trial basis. According to Opel, the new Berlin airport was a perfect choice for the HydroGen4 since it will also be home to the world's first CO2 neutral gas station upon its completion.
The gas station produces hydrogen from wind energy.
"We fully intend to develop the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport into the most modern airport in Europe with a leadership role in environmental and resources protection," Dr Manfred A. KÃ¶rtgen, general manager of airport manager BBI, said. "Of course the same is true for the use of alternative propulsion in the airport vehicle fleet."
The new international airport is expected to open on June 3, 2012.
Fuel Cell Powers Up Festivities at Secretary Chu’s Holiday Party
Employees at the Energy Department’s annual holiday party were greeted with many familiar sights – festive decorations, sugar cookies, and a tree in sparkling lights. In addition to the traditional holiday fare, guests were presented with something new. For the first time ever, the lights used to decorate the holiday tree were powered by a clean, efficient fuel cell.
Fuel cells produce clean electricity from a number of domestic fuels, including renewables, natural gas, and hydrogen, and can provide power for virtually any application—from cars and buses to holiday lights. Fuel cells work like batteries, but they do not run down or need recharging. They produce electricity and heat as long as fuel is supplied.
The portable fuel cell used at this year’s holiday party is made by Trulite. The fuel cell generates about 150 watts of power—making it ideal for recharging laptops, cell phones, and other everyday appliances.
Continued widespread use of hydrogen and fuel cells could play a substantial role in overcoming our nation’s key energy challenges—including reducing greenhouse gas emissions and oil consumption as well as improving air quality. Energy Department funding has led to over 300 U.S. hydrogen and fuel cell patents and directly contributed to bringing over 30 commercial technologies to the market place.
Incorporating clean, renewable technologies into time-honored traditions right at the Energy Department’s headquarters is something that resonates with employees. “It’s great to see fuel cells used in a more domestic setting that people can relate to,” said Kristen Abkemeier. Shannon Shea, another holiday party attendee, added, “It’s one of the ways DOE is walking the walk.”
A clean, efficient fuel cell powered the tree lights at the 2011 Energy Department holiday party
Green Gardening with the Fuel Cell EcoMotion Truck
Four Danish companies joined forces to develop the fuel cell powered EcoMotion Truck, which has been very successful in a number of test applications and is seeing its first sales.
The EcoMotion Truck is a mobile power station, powered by two high-temperature polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (HT-PEMFC) that run on methanol. The HT-PEMFC allow for a simplified balance of plant and improved carbon monoxide tolerance, which makes it possible to use liquid methanol as fuel. This is reformed into hydrogen-rich gas internally in the system. The system developed by Serenergy is the first commercially available mobile RMFC (reformed methanol fuel cell) system in the world, based on HT-PEMFC technology.
The fuel cell truck was tested by gardeners in the grounds of Holstebro Cemeteries, where it has three key advantages: its near-silent operation, low emissions and the fact that it does not require constant recharging. Gardeners can operate the EcoMotion for up to a week before the ten litre fuel tank needs refilling. The truck also produces power for an inverter and two built-in 230 VAC power outlets so that the gardeners don't need long cables for equipment such as electric hedge trimmers.
The gardeners at Holstebro Cemeteries were so impressed by the demonstration that they ordered a customised EcoMotion Truck for the cemetery, which was delivered in September.
The EcoMotion also proved useful in Aalborg Zoo, where the baboons had their daily meals delivered by it. The green keepers at the Danish Odder Golf Club used it for mowing the green and at the large Danish Skanderborg Festival the truck was used for transportation of equipment and musicians between the different stages. A special towing truck for luggage hauling is being produced for Billund Airport.
The use of methanol in fuel cells allows for reduced carbon dioxide and other emissions, and becomes carbon-neutral when the methanol is produced from biomass or using renewable energy such as wind power. This is the route that the consortium behind EcoMotion is advocating.
The EcoMotion consortium was formed when companies GMR maskiner, Serenergy and Energiselskabet OK joined forces with the Danish Technological Institute. The consortium works to develop fuel cell electrical vehicles powered by reformed methanol. Although GMR maskiner began back in 2003 to investigate opportunities for an environmentally friendly work truck, the consortium was formally created in 2010 with support from the Danish Energy Agency and Danish Development Funds (EUDP, EnergiTekMidt). The EcoMotion Prototype Truck is the first commercial result of the partnership and four other trucks are now also under development. GMR maskiner constructs the trucks and integrates the fuel cells. Oil and energy company OK supplies fuel and logistics, while Serenergy A/S develops and produces the fuel cell systems. The Danish Technology Institute handles tasks such as project coordination, construction, tests and data collection.
The EcoMotion Truck will be on display at the Group Exhibit Hydrogen + Fuel Cells at HANNOVER MESSE 2012 from 23 to 27 April.
See www.ecomotion.dk/engelsk/ for more information on EcoMotion.
Ballard Clean Energy Fuel Cell Modules Power BC Transit Bus Fleet Thru 1-Million Miles of Service
First-ever fuel cell bus fleet to achieve this milestone
VANCOUVER, CANADA– Ballard Power Systems (TSX: BLD) (NASDAQ: BLDP) announced that the 20-bus fleet operated by BC Transit in the Resort Municipality of Whistler, British Columbia and powered by Ballard FCvelocityTM-HD6 fuel cell modules recently surpassed 1-million miles (1.6-million kilometers) of revenue service.
The BC Transit fleet has been the largest hydrogen fuel cell-powered bus fleet in operation anywhere since it went into service approximately 2-years ago and is the first hydrogen fuel cell bus fleet to achieve the 1-million mile revenue service mark. The buses went into service in January, 2010 prior to the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, and have been an effective showcase for clean transportation alternatives.
Paul Cass, Ballard’s Vice-President of Operations said, “We are pleased with the continued improvement in overall bus fleet performance over time and are delighted with BC Transit’s ongoing support of this important initiative. Many decision-makers in the global bus market are following the Whistler experience closely and will be interested in the results to date.”
By end-November 2011 a number of important results had been achieved:
• The 20-bus fleet had operated a total of 80,000 hours;
• More than 9,600 safe refuellings had been completed, by which 220,000 kilograms of hydrogen was dispensed to the fleet’s buses; and
• 2,200 tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were avoided, in comparison to diesel buses, which is equivalent to removing approximately 400 passenger vehicles from the roads.
About Ballard Power Systems
Ballard Power Systems (TSX: BLD) (NASDAQ: BLDP) provides clean energy fuel cell products enabling optimized power systems for a range of applications. Products are based on proprietary esencia™ technology, ensuring incomparable performance, durability and versatility. To learn more about Ballard, please visit www.ballard.com.
First APFCT Scooter Completes 15,000 km on the Road
Asia Pacific Fuel Cell Technologies (APFCT) has announced that one of the fuel cell scooters in its demonstration fleet has become the first to complete 15,000 km on the road.
The ten scooter fleet is being tested in the Demonstration and Verification Program of Hydrogen Energy Industry, sponsored by the Bureau of Energy, Taiwan. Under this, six scooters are allocated to an on-road test drive of 5,000 km. One scooter was durability tested for 5,000 km by the Taiwan Automotive Research and Testing Center (ARTC), which was completed in October of this year. The remaining three scooters must each complete 15,000 km on the road; the second scooter is expected to reach the target this week. The project will be complete in January 2012.
APFCT’s Zero Emission fuel cell Scooter (ZES) is being developed for commercial sale, primarily in Asia. A deal to develop a commercial canister refuelling system using Acta’s electrolyser stack technology was announced earlier this month (see our news story).
For more information on APFCT and the scooters, visit: www.apfct.com
Hydrogen-fuel Battery" May Keep Future iPhones, iPads and Macbooks Powered for Weeks
Technology giant Apple's products are well known for design and functionality but Apple fans have an age-old wish - a better battery life. And, this wish could be fulfilled soon as Apple is developing a battery that will run on hydrogen-fuel, a battery that can keep all portable Apple devices including iPhone, iPad, iPod and Macbook powered, not for days, but for weeks.
According to Apple's two 'epoch-making' patent applications to US Patent and Trademark Office( USPTO) , titled "Fuel Cell System to Power a Portable Computing Device" and "Fuel Cell System Coupled to a Portable Computing Device", the company is developing cutting-edge batteries, which use hydrogen-fuel. Hydrogen is known as the lightest and most common chemical element in the Universe. Using this element, Apple wants to make Eco-friendly, long-lasting battery, which is also light and small in size. Once developed, the batteries are expected to last for weeks without needing a re-charge. This could be a dream come true for Apple fans, especially iPhone users, as the latest iPhone 4S is dogged by battery drain issues.
"Our country's continuing reliance on fossil fuels has forced our government to maintain complicated political and military relationships with unstable governments in the Middle East, and has also exposed our coastlines and our citizens to the associated hazards of offshore drilling. These problems have led to an increasing awareness and desire on the part of consumers to promote and use renewable energy sources." Apple stated in its filing.
However, Apple faces a big challenge - it not only has to implant the hydrogen-fuel cell system, which is bulky, into its portable and compact computing devices, but also ensure that it's cost-effective. Hydrogen fuel is currently used to power spacecraft and can also run cars, boats and airplanes.
If Apple's project becomes a success, this hydrogen-fuel cell can be another platform for future gadgets to run on. And to Apple, this could be one more time to show the world that Apple does what Apple thinks. Though Steve Jobs has passed away, under Tim Cook's new leadership, Apple is set to welcome 2012. Can Cook live up to the expectations of Apple fans? Let's wait and watch.
Ballard Signs LOI To Power 25 Clean Energy Hydrogen Fuel Cell Buses in Sao Paulo, Brazil
VANCOUVER - Ballard Power Systems has signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) with The City of Sao Paulo, Brazil for 25 FCvelocityTM-HD6 fuel cell modules to power 25 buses in that city. Delivery of the modules is planned for 2012. A final agreement with The City of Sao Paulo is now in negotiation.
Silvano Pozzi, Ballard's Director - Brazil Market Development said, "We are very pleased with The City of Sao Paulo's intention to deploy an initial fleet of 25 clean energy buses."
John Sheridan, the Company's President and CEO added, "In combination with our recently announced supply agreement for 21 modules to power buses in Europe, this points to significant progress toward commercialization of zero-emission fuel cell buses in 2012."
Brazil's National Plan on Climate Change is a set of inter-ministerial programs designed to cut emissions in the transportation, forestry, industrial and energy sectors. Under the plan the Brazilian government has committed to significant use of zero-emission transit technology. Initiatives will be implemented during the lead-up to the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympic Games being held in that country, and beyond.
Sao Paulo is Brazil's largest city, generating significant emissions of particulate matter together with 3 million tons of greenhouse gases annually, 85% of which are created by vehicles. As a result, clean energy transportation is a high priority for the city, which has established a goal of reducing fossil fuel use within the bus fleet by at least 10% annually over the next several years.
Ballard's sixth generation FCvelocityTM-HD6 fuel cell module features a control unit which interfaces with a system controller to make it a "plug-and-play" product for any fuel cell or hybrid fuel cell bus platform. The module also offers significant advances in durability, power density and fuel efficiency compared to earlier generation products.
About Ballard Power Systems Ballard Power Systems (TSX: BLD) (NASDAQ: BLDP) provides clean energy fuel cell products enabling optimized power systems for a range of applications. Products are based on proprietary esencia™ technology, ensuring incomparable performance, durability and versatility. To learn more about Ballard, please visit www.ballard.com.
This release contains forward-looking statements concerning anticipated government funding, customer commitments and product shipments. These forward-looking statements reflect Ballard's current expectations as contemplated under section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Any such forward-looking statements are based on Ballard's assumptions relating to its financial forecasts and expectations regarding its product development efforts, manufacturing capacity, and market demand.
These statements involve risks and uncertainties that may cause Ballard's actual results to be materially different, including general economic and regulatory changes, detrimental reliance on third parties, successfully achieving our business plans and achieving and sustaining profitability. For a detailed discussion of these and other risk factors that could affect Ballard's future performance, please refer to Ballard's most recent Annual Information Form. Readers should not place undue reliance on Ballard's forward-looking statements and Ballard assumes no obligation to update or release any revisions to these forward looking statements, other than as required under applicable legislation.
Further Information Public Relations: Guy McAree, +1.604.412.7919, firstname.lastname@example.org Investor Relations: Lori Rozali, +1.604.412.3195, email@example.com
SOURCE Ballard Power Systems Inc.
Never Mind Solyndra: Fuel Cell Industry Growing with Government Support
So much political hay has been made over the collapse of Solyndra, which was supported by government funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Government isn’t qualified to pick technological winners and losers, said detractors; support for renewable energy is political, they said. But government has a long history of encouraging emerging technologies, and that continues, from energy storage to fuel cells.
Beginning in April 2009, the Department of Energy (DOE) invested $41.6 million in ARRA funding for fuel cell technologies for auxiliary power, backup power, combined heat and power, lift truck, and portable-power applications.
Fuel cells convert hydrogen, natural gas or other fuel into electricity through an electrochemical process. They promise lower emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, particulate matter, and carbon dioxide (CO2). And as a distributed technology, located at the user’s site rather than a central power plant, their use can potentially save money and energy on transmission and distribution.
By the end of fiscal year 2011, ARRA funding had helped to install 830 fuel cells. So has this investment had an effect on the market? Probably.
In 2010, several countries invested in fuel cells and hydrogen. The United Kingdom and the United States topped the list, with the U.K. investing $15.3 million and the U.S. investing $13.7 million, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (PDF).
A report from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (PDF) earlier this year found that government support for fuel cells has led to cost reductions in the United States and other countries. The report found:
•The United States, Japan, Germany, South Korea, and other countries have publicly funded R&D and market transformation programs to develop domestic fuel cell industries. In the United States, that industry is supported by the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and California’s Self‐Generation‐Incentive‐Program as well as ARRA.
•Manufacturers have achieved cost reductions over the past two-to-five years on the order of 50 percent. However, costs must be further reduced by 40 percent to 50 percent to compete successfully in the market.
•Manufacturers expect continued cost reductions though economies of scale and supply chain cost reductions. Doubling output would reduce costs by 20 to 30 percent, they estimated. Technological advances would play a smaller role than in the past.
For U.S. manufacturers, the key domestic markets are in California and the northeast states, which have policies to address climate change, such as the Northeast Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and California’s 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act.
While a June report from Black & Veatch reported that utilities believed fuel cells to have among the least significant impact on the industry among several other green technologies, California’s Pacific Gas & Electric has invested in some pilot programs.
Once such installation has come to my backyard. Earlier this month, a new fuel cell plant was dedicated at San Francisco State University (SFSU). A FuelCell Energy installation at California State University East Bay in Hayward, Calif., is also part of PG&E’s pilot, and together the two installations cost $20.3 million, plus $9 million in operations and maintenance costs for their estimated 10-year life span. The installations will total about 3 MW, enough to power about 3,000 Bay Area homes annually, according to Joe Molica, a public relations officer for PG&E.
FuelCell Energy also installed a 1MW unit at California State University, Northridge, in 2007 in partnership with Southern California Gas Company and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
PG&E owns and operates the plant at SFSU, which consists of two fuel cell systems and technologies: one manufactured by FuelCell Energy that generates 1400 KW, and the other by Bloom Energy, producing 200 KW. Power generated by the fuel cell systems will be connected to PG&E’s local distribution grid via a step-up transformer.
To date, PG&E has supported the installation of 84 fuel cells for residential and commercial/industrial applications that will total 19 MW, said Molina. The first 70, totaling 17 MW, cost the utility $60 million in incentives.
FuelCell Energy builds molten carbonate fuel cells (MCFCs), and Bloom builds solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC). Both are high-temperature designs that promise higher operating efficiencies. The technologies do not require hydrogen but can use various fuels, such as propane, coal gas, natural gas, and anaerobic digestor. The SFSU fuel cells will use natural gas.
The university invested $550,000 to connect the fuel cell plant with the campus’ heating infrastructure to capture waste heat to warm campus buildings. The school expects to earn back its investment through an estimated $250,000 in annual savings from lower heating costs.
PG&E will be studying the fuel cells, as will faculty and students at SFSU.
“We do demonstration projects like this to test, monitor, and assess how these technologies work over their lifetime,” said Molina
CES Preview: Fuel Cells Coming To Gadgets, Finally
Fuel cells for consumer electronics are one of those technologies that always seem poised for mainstream adoption but never quite make it. A New York-based chemicals company says that will finally change in 2012 with the release of a portable fuel cell charger that can power up cellphones and other mobile devices. Two recently published patent applications also indicate that Apple is investigating similar technology for its portable computing devices. That could prompt other gadget makers to adopt fuel cell charging.
The soon-to-be-released portable charger, called POWERTREKK, is slated to debut at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January and go on sale in Europe in early 2012 and in the U.S. in the spring. Prices have not yet been determined but Michael Lefenfeld, Chief Executive of SiGNa Chemistry, which designed the cartridges in POWERTREKK’s fuel cells, says the fuel cells will cost less than a 4-pack of AA batteries. (POWERTREKK is manufactured and distributed by a Swedish company called myFC.)
POWERTREKK is a hybridized fuel cell system, meaning it recharges gadgets’ existing batteries rather than replaces them. It consists of a 5 watt-hour battery cartridge and replaceable 3-5 watt fuel packs, each of which should produce enough energy to charge an iPhone at least once. Lefenfeld says POWERTREKK can also charge other kinds of cellphones, digital cameras, GPS devices and some tablets. It connects to the gadgets via USB or mini-USB connectors.
This type of charger has been years in the making. Companies including Motorola and Duracell spent millions researching fuel cells for gadgets before shuttering their research initiatives, says Lefenfeld. Other companies also pursued the technology only to give up in the mid to late 2000s, he says. POWERTREKK itself took nearly two years to develop; SiGNa has been working with myFC on the product since early 2010.
Fuel cells have been successfully applied to machines like indoor forklifts, where they replace propane and gasoline. But shrinking fuel cells to be truly portable was challenging since hydrogen gas is particularly tricky to store. “The chemical solutions in the past all stored hydrogen,” explains Lefenfeld. “You’d need a thick, steel, pressurized container to store it.”
SiGNa’s solution is to use sodium silicide, which doesn’t store hydrogen but reacts with any kind of water (salt, sea, even polluted water) to create hydrogen gas. The hydrogen is fed into a fuel cell to produce electricity that can be transmitted to gadgets through cords. “Add water, you get hydrogen; turn off [the water], you get nothing,” says Lefenfeld.
The need for a fuel cell makes the system bulkier than a regular, battery-powered external charger. Lefenfeld says consumers may opt for fuel cell chargers, however, because they are lighter than battery-operated chargers, don’t discharge power or degrade over time and work quickly. (An iPhone should charge in an hour or hour and a half using POWERTREKK.) SiGNa also removed another longtime fuel cell hurdle by getting its setup approved by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), which sets standards for electrical and electronic technology. That will enable users to bring the POWERTREKK onto planes.
As its name indicates, POWERTREKK is primarily targeting outdoor enthusiasts — hikers and campers who need a lightweight backup charger to power their gadgets off the grid. SiGNa sees a lot more applications for the technology, though. It hopes business travelers, emergency/disaster relief workers and the military will adopt fuel cell chargers. To increase the technology’s appeal, SiGNa is developing higher-capacity, portable fuel cells as well as solutions suited for outdoor power equipment like lawn mowers and leaf blowers. Lefenfeld says SiGNa will announce additional partnerships in the spring and early summer of 2012.
Eventually, SiGNa would like to see its fuel cell technology embedded directly into devices. Lefenfeld says that will take time, in part because gadget makers grew skeptical of fuel cells after earlier hype failed to produce viable commercial products. “A lot of [those companies] spent a lot of money on this years ago,” says Lefenfeld. “They want to see something hit the market before they go back to the well.”
Despite those disappointments, Lefenfeld says he sees renewed interest in fuel cells. As evidence, he cites the late November acquisition of portable fuel cell maker Angstrom Power by a Canadian subsidiary of BIC Group and Apple’s patents, which were filed in 2010 and published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last week.
One Apple patent relates to embedded fuel cells and one to external rechargers. Though the recharger idea is similar to POWERTREKK, Lefenfeld contends that the patents and the attention they have attracted are positive for SiGNa and the industry in general. “We want to see big players coming back to the market,” he says. “Throughout the 2000′s, lots of people got excited about fuel cell power but then dumped the business.”
There’s another reason Lefenfeld is heartened by the Apple patents: SiGNa now sees the iPhone and iPad maker as a potential customer. “We want to be a supplier to them,” he adds. “They’re the partner everyone wants to have.”
Long in the making, the POWERTREKK portable fuel cell charger for gadgets will go on sale in 2012.
What the H?: Everything You Need to Know About a Hydrogen-Fueled Future
By the end of the decade, fuel-cell vehicles from GM, Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, and Toyota are due to start trickling into dealers. They’ll be reliable and versatile, though they’ll cost a small fortune, and refueling them will be difficult. Clearly, fuel-cell vehicles have a lot of hurdles to clear as they make their way to consumers. Here’s how they’ll get there:
HOW A FUEL CELL WORKS
Pumping hydrogen and oxygen through anode and cathode channels into contact with a platinum catalyst causes a chemical reaction yielding water and an electrical current. A stack of multiple cells is required to raise the 0.7 volt per cell that’s produced to a higher, more useful voltage. Fuel cells can be up to 80 percent efficient.
WHERE WE'LL GET THE HYDROGEN
The fuel-cell revolution can’t begin without filling stations, and a marked lack of infrastructure still dogs hydrogen. The old “chicken and egg” excuse seems less credible now that fuel-cell cars such as the Honda FCX Clarity are transporting folks to and from work every day [see “Fuel Cells in the Field”]. So where are the stations?
Depending on where you live, you may have to wait awhile. Five years ago, the conventional wisdom was that “hydrogen highways” would fuel the future, with stations planned along the California coast and the I-95 corridor from Maine to Miami.
Now, a new model is taking hold: building local clusters of stations to serve a metro area until the clusters merge together. Using such a plan, it’s easier to initially saturate a particular market with fueling stations, making hydrogen a more attractive option for nearby car buyers.
Where the hydrogen will come from also will depend on where you live and what resources are available. In the near future, stations will be fueling cars with hydrogen that is brought in on tankers from large reformers, much as gasoline is tanked in from refineries today. In the long term, local hydrogen-processing plants will take advantage of nearby sources and renewable energy.
Steam methane reforming separates hydrogen from a fossil fuel, usually natural gas, by heating it and exposing it to a catalyst. Natural gas isn’t renewable, but it is available domestically, and the Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that a fuel-cell vehicle running on reformed hydrogen still has half the total well-to-wheel carbon emissions of a gasoline-fueled vehicle. Reformed hydrogen also is produced on a large scale and is currently cheaper than hydrogen from other sources.
Hydrogen can also be obtained from biomass, such as agricultural byproducts, animal waste, and sewage. Using a process called gasification, the biomass is exposed to heat, steam, and oxygen to form a gas that, after further processing, eventually yields pure hydrogen. “There are landfills that are ready sources of gas that would otherwise be wasted and that can be a source of hydrogen,” says the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association’s (FCHEA) policy director, James Warner.
There’s also electrolysis, the process of separating hydrogen from water using an electric current. It sounds enticing when compared with fossil fuels and animal waste, but it has its drawbacks. Currently, electrolysis is competitive in areas of the country where electricity is cheap, but that power usually comes from coal-fired plants. Solar- and wind-powered electrolyzers exist [see illustration above], but renewable-energy costs haven’t come down enough for them to be viable.
“Once we have a market for hydrogen and a demand for it, as for the various ways of getting at it, we’ll see what shakes out in the marketplace,” says Warner. “Some of it will require some regulations. If there’s a renewable requirement, then you’ll see more of a push to have landfill gas or electrolyzed water.
GETTING COST DOWN AND RANGE UP
Currently, the tallest hurdle facing automakers is the cost of existing technology. For example, the fuel-cell stacks used in cars up to this point have relied on platinum as a catalyst. If you’ve shopped for an engagement ring lately, you’ll know how pricey that can get.
Researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory have demonstrated that it’s possible to substitute more-common materials such as iron and cobalt for some of the catalyst, and scientists at Case Western Reserve University have developed a carbon nanotube catalyst that’s 650 times cheaper than platinum. Recycling catalysts may bring down costs even further, though automakers aren’t yet talking dollar amounts.
Mercedes is also looking at compressing hydrogen to more than 10,000 psi so that more fuel could be stored onboard a vehicle, with advanced lithium-ion batteries for additional energy storage. With such improvements, Dr. Herbert Kohler, Daimler’s vice-president of future mobility, estimates that upcoming vehicles could have ranges topping 600 miles.
There are additional efficiencies to be gained from refining the stack architecture. Already, the DOE estimates that the cost to build an automotive fuel cell has come down 30 percent in the past three years and 80 percent in the past decade. At the same time, durability doubled—but it needs to double again. Today’s fuel-cell vehicles are expected to run for at least 2500 hours (about 75,000 miles), and that’s not good enough. “We still need to be at 5000 hours to compete with other technologies,” says Sunita Satyapal, the DOE’s fuel-cells program manager.
Toyota hopes to sell a hydrogen-powered sedan for $50,000, less than half of what its FCHV-adv prototype vehicle currently costs to build. Although technology advances might bring down costs eventually, real short-term savings will come from volume production, according to the FCHEA. Since fuel-cell cars have no existing parts-supply chain, even production cars like the FCX Clarity can’t take advantage of volume pricing. The hope is that manufacturers can install fuel cells in high-end vehicles to early adopters, thereby minimizing their losses. “We might end up with a luxury-like price point, and the market will respond to that, while at the same time, we ramp up the volume,” says Steve Ellis, Honda’s manager of fuel-cell vehicle sales.
FUEL CELLS IN THE FIELD
Starting in 2008, Honda began a limited lease program for 200 hydrogen-fuel-cell FCX Clarity sedans. Ultimately, 24 customers in Southern California paid $600 per month for a three-year lease. As those leases have ended, Honda has re-leased some of the cars to customers and dissected the others for research. Here’s what the company learned:
FCX Clarity drivers commuted over short distances throughout Los Angeles and Orange counties without difficulty (Honda claims the FCX has a 270-mile range).
The lack of infrastructure was a major inconvenience for lessees who didn’t live by one of California’s seven hydrogen stations. The stations are all near Los Angeles, effectively tethering the cars to a 150-mile radius.
Drivers averaged 12,000 miles per year. One early lessee just passed the 36,000-mile mark.
Dealerships that lease the FCX Clarity go through rigorous training to educate customers. “These salespeople are being asked questions they’ve never been asked before,” says Honda’s manager of fuel-cell-vehicle sales and marketing, Steve Ellis.
WILL OUR GOVERNMENT SUPPORT IT?
Automakers and infrastructure builders agree that one way to lower costs in the short term is through government intervention. In the U.S., though, that seems unlikely.
With Energy Secretary Steven Chu, the Obama administration moved quickly to put all its eggs into the battery basket and repeatedly tried to slash fuel-cell funding, but those cuts have so far been largely overturned by Congress.
The focus on battery technology seems shortsighted to hydrogen proponents. “These are complementary technologies,” says Honda’s Steve Ellis. Tech developed for the FCX, for instance, is now being deployed on the Fit EV. “You could almost say fuel-cell electric vehicles have advanced battery-electric cars.”
The 2012 Senate Appropriations Bill may not contain that much money for hydrogen vehicles and fuel-cell research, but it does include language that supports validation and infrastructure. “It’s going to take a congressional push, and we’re starting to see the inklings to do that,” the FCHEA’s Warner says.
As far as infrastructure is concerned, those who are paying out of their own pockets to build stations say they could use some help while waiting for increased demand and lower-cost renewable energy.
Tom Sullivan believes in energy independence so strongly that he’s pouring the money he made from starting the Lumber Liquidators flooring-superstore chain into SunHydro, a firm that builds solar-powered hydrogen refueling stations. He thinks that targeted tax cuts would encourage entrepreneurs like him to build more stations. “You need something to spur it on,” he says. “People who are sane probably wouldn’t build a station.”
For Honda’s Ellis, it’s a practical issue as well as a political one. “These technologies strike at societal concerns,” he says. “If that’s the case, then will society help us transition?”