3.1.2011 SRS and USC focus on hydrogen
3.3.2011 USC Ford Hydrogen Bus and Honda FCX Clarity Event in Columbia, South Carolina
3.7.2011 Toyota says cost of fuel cells will plunge by 2015
3.9.2011 Fuel cell bikes a step closer
3.17.2011 Hydrogen is Down, But Not Out
3.17.2011 Mercedes to open fuel cell plant in Burnaby
3.18.2011 Plug Power pushes message of commercial viability for hydrogen fuel cell solutions
3.22.2011 Researchers claim fuel cell breakthrough
3.31.2011 London Black Cabs Going Hydrogen
SRS and USC focus on hydrogen
By Roddie Burris
The creation of a hydrogen economy center at USC in conjunction with the national laboratory at Savannah River Site was hailed Monday as a strong indicator the country is getting more serious about its energy problem.
Fluor Corp., parent company of Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, which manages SRS, cut a $1.5 million check to the university to assist in establishing the center, helping fund endowed chairs for two top researchers.
One will be a Discovery Chair in USC’s College of Engineering and Computing, tasked with developing joint research programs with the laboratory to advance hydrogen and renewable energy technologies.
The other will be an Innovation Chair in USC’s Darla Moore School of Business, an expert who will work with scientists and technologists to transfer technology from USC and the laboratory out into viable commerce and business.
“It will accelerate progress,” said USC president Harris Pastides.
“USC has been in the hydrogen business a long time, but America is in a hurry,” he said, particularly given rapidly rising gas prices and turmoil spreading throughout the oil-producing Middle East.
While people have seen hydrogen as a long-term solution to the nation’s energy shortage, “I think this investment by Fluor says it might be here sooner than you think,” Pastides said during the announcement of the partnership at USC.
Americans are looking for something that might be viable in two to three years, Pastides said.
“There’s not a bigger problem in the nation facing us right now,” said Terry Michalske, Savannah River National Laboratory director. “We lose our focus, but the eruptions (market volatility) are more frequent and more severe.”
The Savannah River National Laboratory, known throughout most its more than 50 years as Savannah River Technology Center, employs about 900 scientists and researchers.
It achieved the distinction of national laboratory in 2004, but until Monday’s announcement was the only one of the Department of Energy’s 10 national laboratories not affiliated with a public research university.
Fluor contributed $1.5 million to the effort, while USC pitched in a $3.5 million donation, and the South Carolina Centers of Economic Excellence added a $5 million gift.
USC plans to conduct a search for the research positions.
“I am pleased to be able to make this investment with the university that will enable the private sector and academic researchers to team together and uncover new and innovative ways of bringing the next generation of energy jobs to South Carolina and the region,” Fluor CEO David Seaton said.
“The fact of the matter is you have a national asset in the laboratory at Savannah River Plant and you have a great university in USC.”
March 3, 2011
USC Hydrogen Bus and Honda FCX Clarity Event in Columbia, SC
By Anna Newell
Columbia and University of South Carolina officials unveiled the new hydrogen powered Ford bus Wednesday, March 2, 2011. USC plans to put the bus into regular use starting next year with the transportation of handicapped students for one year. Speaker Mike Coman, Director of Sustainability at the University of South Carolina, hopes for a total fuel efficient fleet by 2015.
The event also highlighted the Honda FCX Clarity fuel cell electrical vehicle which stopped in Columbia to refuel. The Honda FCX Clarity is a zero emissions hydrogen powered vehicle.
The event was a huge success with remarks (and shout outs to the SCHFCA!) from Mayor Steve Benjamin, Bill Mahoney, CEO of SCRA, and Jim Gambrell, Director of Economic Development for the City of Columbia, who said he wants Columbia to be the “epicenter for hydrogen technology for the United States."
Honda FCX Clarity in downtown Columbia, SC
* Click the picture for additional pictures via Flickr.
Toyota says cost of fuel cells will plunge by 2015
By Hans Greimel
Toyota Motor Corp. aims to slash the cost of hydrogen fuel cell technology before it starts selling its fuel cell sedan in 2015, a top executive said.
The company plans to tackle costs several ways, said Shinzo Kobuki, senior managing director in charge of Toyota's battery technology. Toyota will:
-- Use less platinum in the fuel stack.
-- Use fewer components and simplify the design.
-- Lower the cost of the carbon fiber used to reinforce hydrogen tanks.
The goal is to bring the cost of the fuel stack and high-pressure hydrogen tank to one-twentieth of 2008 levels, Kobuki said last week at the International Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Expo in Tokyo.
Toyota has said the high cost of the fuel cell system today, including the fuel cell stack and hydrogen tank, drives the price of what would otherwise be a car people could afford into the $100,000 range.
Toyota already has reined in the cost of manufacturing the tank, for example, by changing the way it spools carbon fiber around it. Engineers sped up the process by moving the tank and the fiber spinners simultaneously rather than keeping the tank stationary, Kobuki said.
Toyota also is experimenting with replacing some of the platinum used in the fuel cell stack with less expensive manganese, he added.
In November, Toyota announced plans to launch sales of a fuel-cell sedan around 2015.
Kobuki said the sedan's production volume hasn't been determined.
Fuel cell bikes a step closer
Zero emission bikes are now a step closer to becoming commercially available. This after global clean power giant Intelligent Energy and Suzuki announced that their jointly developed Suzuki Burgman Fuel Cell Scooter has obtained Whole Vehicle Type Approval (WVTA) - the first time any fuel cell vehicle has achieved this level of certification.
WVTA qualifies the Suzuki Burgman Fuel Cell Scooter design as safe to use on public roads without having to be inspected and tested individually.
First exhibited at the 41st Tokyo Motor Show in October 2009, the Suzuki Burgman Fuel Cell Scooter, equipped with the latest version of Intelligent Energy's unique, air-cooled hydrogen fuel cell system, has been participating in a UK public road testing program run by Intelligent Energy and supported by the UK Government's Technology Strategy Board.
The Suzuki Burgman Fuel Cell Scooter design has now met with specified EU performance standards meaning that the vehicle and its components are approved for production and sale within Europe.
“Suzuki Motor Corporation is pleased to announce that the Suzuki Burgman Fuel Cell Scooter has become the world's first fuel cell vehicle to earn Whole Vehicle Type Approval in the European Union,” explained Mr. O. Suzuki, Chairman and CEO, Suzuki Motor Corporation.
“Our aim is to make eco-friendly fuel cell scooters increasingly common in Europe, in line with the establishment of hydrogen filling stations and other necessary infrastructure.”
The city-friendly Suzuki Burgman Fuel Cell Scooter was jointly launched in Europe at London's City Hall in February 2010. At the event, the Chair of the London Hydrogen Partnership and London's Deputy Mayor for Policing, Kit Malthouse, hailed the zero emission scooter as a “fantastic piece of kit which shows how we can combat climate change.” A fleet of the scooters will now undergo a further test program in various public road conditions at sites in the East Midlands and London.
“We're immensely proud that our five year partnership with Suzuki Motor Corporation has led to the Suzuki Burgman Fuel Cell Scooter becoming the world's first hydrogen fuel cell vehicle to achieve Whole Vehicle Type Approval.
This is an important day in the history of fuel cell technology and a huge step towards cleaner, more efficient vehicles being part of the mainstream,” said Dr Henri Winand, CEO, Intelligent Energy.
Suzuki Burgman Fuel Cell Scooter
Hydrogen is Down, but Not Out
By Chuck Squatriglia
For all the love battery-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids get these days, you’d think hydrogen is dead. It isn’t.
Oh sure, the Obama administration, smitten by cars with cords, wants to cut funding for hydrogen by 40 percent. California’s hydrogen highway has gone nowhere. We have no fueling infrastructure to speak of. And critics argue it could take decades for hydrogen to have an appreciable impact on gasoline consumption or CO2 emissions. But some big automakers remain convinced hydrogen is the technology best suited to moving us beyond petroleum, and they plan to start selling fuel cell vehicles in 2015.
“Hydrogen is the fuel of the future — and always will be,” goes the joke. But Mercedes-Benz, along with Honda and others, says the future is now. Three Mercedes-Benz F-Cell hatchbacks are rolling through the West Coast this week during an around-the-world road trip meant to prove the technology is ready for prime time.
“We are convinced of the great potential of fuel cell vehicles,” Christian Mohrdieck, the company’s director of fuel cell and battery development, said during a recent stop in San Francisco. “We want to convince the last few skeptics.”
Three neon-yellow F-Cell hatchbacks left Stuttgart, Germany, on Jan. 29, 125 years to the day after Karl Benz invented the automobile. They’ll roll through 14 countries in four months and rack up 20,000 miles apiece.
Automakers push hydrogen because it offers the benefits of battery electric vehicles — namely zero tailpipe emissions — without the drawbacks of short range and long recharge times. You can fill a car with hydrogen in minutes, it’ll go about 250 miles or so and the technology is easily adapted to everything from forklifts to automobiles to buses.
Mercedes plans to sell the F-Cell in 2015, though it is leasing them in limited numbers now. Toyota’s shooting for the same time frame for its first fuel cell vehicle, and Honda will be there with them with the FCX Clarity it currently leases to two dozen people in Southern California. General Motors still has the hydrogen Chevrolet Equinox, and Hyundai recently rolled into Washington, D.C., with the third-gen Tucson ix fuel cell vehicle.
These are real cars, not crazy concepts. The F-Cell is based on the B-Class sold in Europe. It has a 100 kilowatt (136 horsepower) motor that performs like a 2.0-liter gasoline engine. The car carries almost 12 kilos of hydrogen, stored at 10,000 psi in three carbon-fiber-reinforced tanks, and has a range of 250 miles. It gets the equivalent of 71 mpg. The hardware is packaged under the hood or under the floor, leaving plenty of room inside for five people and 15 cubic feet of cargo.
We took an F-Cell for a spin and found it … utterly ordinary. It drives, performs and handles like any nicely appointed small car. There’s nothing weird about it. To call the F-Cell unremarkable “is the highest compliment,” Mohrdieck says.
But the cars have never been the problem. Oh sure, they are wildly expensive. Earlier models would have cost $1 million or more had anyone actually sold them. That’s why automakers have leased the handful of fuel cell vehicles they’ve sent into the world. Even that’s expensive. The Clarity is $600 a month for 36 months; the F-Cell is $849 a month for 24. Both automakers include maintenance, insurance and unlimited hydrogen.
Toyota has said it has cut the cost of fuel cell vehicles more than 90 percent by using less platinum and other expensive materials. It plans to sell its first hydrogen vehicle for around $50,000. The F-Cell will play in the same ballpark.
“I can fully agree with Toyota’s projections on cost,” Mohrdieck says. “Fuel cell technology can be on the same level as diesel hybrids. That is my goal. That is Daimler’s goal.”
The biggest problem with hydrogen fuel cell vehicles has always been storing and distributing hydrogen on a large scale. Hydrogen, the most abundant element in the universe, is widely used in the aerospace, refining and food industries. We produce a lot of it, but it isn’t widely available.
Mercedes says there are just 200 hydrogen fueling stations worldwide, so Linde, the company providing the hydrogen for the F-Cells, built a mobile fueling rig for the trip. California, which has seen its much-touted love affair with hydrogen wax and wane, has four public stations. Nineteen more are planned by the end of 2012.
Clearly there is a long way to go, and even the most rudimentary infrastructure will cost billions. Advocates say we are — slowly — making progress.
The Hawaii Hydrogen Initiative plans to have 20 to 25 stations throughout Oahu by 2016. The Gas Company, the state’s major natural gas provider, produces hydrogen and synthetic natural gas and delivers it via pipeline. The idea is to divert the hydrogen to fueling stations using pressure swing adsorption. Advocates of the venture, backed by GM and others, call it a cost-effective way of producing and distributing hydrogen — one that could be duplicated elsewhere.
Hydrogen startup SunHydro wants to build a “hydrogen highway” from Maine to Miami using solar-powered electrolysis to produce hydrogen at privately funded stations. It opened its first station, in Wallington, Connecticut, last fall.
Honda, meanwhile, is exploring home fueling. The Solar Hydrogen Station uses a 6-kilowatt solar array to power an electrolyzer. It produces 0.5 kilograms of hydrogen in eight hours, enough to go 30 miles. Spokeswoman Jessica Fini says that’s enough for many people’s daily commuting needs, and Honda is refining the tech for home deployment.
Looking overseas, Norway has opened four hydrogen stations since 2006 and plans three more this year. Japan has a dozen stations and hopes to have 100 by 2015. Spain, Germany and Denmark have similar projects underway.
Proponents tout hydrogen as being truly renewable, and some of the stations slated for California will use solar electrolysis and other “green” methods of producing hydrogen. But most of our hydrogen is created by steam-reforming natural gas — and will be for the foreseeable future, says Spencer Quong of Quong & Associates, an advanced-automotive-engineering consultancy. Although energy-intensive, it is more efficient than refining gasoline, he says.
Hydrogen is most frequently distributed by truck, consuming still more fossil fuels. But a well-to-wheels analysis by the California Energy Commission found hydrogen still offers a net reduction in energy consumption and CO2 emissions compared to gasoline. The benefits are even greater when you’re using solar-powered electrolysis to produce hydrogen.
But at what cost? Proponents concede the technology, and the infrastructure that would support it, will require huge government investment. But the federal government is backing off. President Obama’s proposed 2012 budget reduces funding for the Department of Energy hydrogen technology program by 40 percent, or almost $70 million. DOE says the cuts are being made “in order to focus on technologies deployable at large scale in the near-term.”
Honda's solar hydrogen station prototype, installed at its R&D center in Los Angeles, uses solar-powered electrolysis to produce about 0.5 kilograms of hydrogen in eight hours. Photo by: Honda
Mercedes to open fuel cell plant in Burnaby
Mercedes-Benz has announced plans to build a hydrogen fuel cell plant in Burnaby, B.C., with the aim of developing its own line of cheaper and more efficient fuel cells for passenger vehicles.
When completed in 2012, the plant will first supply the company with fuel cell stacks for its small fleet of hydrogen powered vehicles. But Mercedes hopes to grow that fleet from about 200 to 10,000 in the next two to three years.
The company is also counting the Burnaby operation to find ways to bring down the cost of those cars to compete with hybrid, and gas powered vehicles. And by 2015, the company says it hopes to offer fuel cell cars to the public.
B.C. Premier Christy Clark was on hand for the announcement, saying the plant is a $50-million investment in the province's green economy.
"It's a day to celebrate the pioneering minds who dare to dream of cleaner, greener ways to create energy and to make fuel cell technology part of the everyday use for the cars and trucks and buses that are all around us," she said.
"Your investment in our province will contribute to a cleaner environment. It will create jobs, and those jobs will support hundreds of families," Clark told executives from Mercedes and its parent company Daimler.
No firm job numbers
But the company could not say how many people will actually work at the plant. Daimler Vice-President Herbert Kohler will only say he hopes to supply up to 10,000 vehicles two years from now.
"I am asking for understanding at the moment. It's not well decided, of course, what kind of capacity we will have in the years coming," said Kohler.
Gunter Walz, vice-president of planning international co-operations said the decision to build a new production facility under the aegis of Mercedes-Benz Canada was "the logical next step of Daimler's successful co-operation with partners in Vancouver."
The project builds on an existing joint venture also based in Burnaby called the Automotive Fuel Cell Co-operation. That venture between Mercedes-Benz's parent company German-based Daimler, Burnaby-based Ballard Power Systems and the Ford Motor Company has been building fuel cells and fuel cell hybrid buses since 2008.
Plug Power pushes message of commercial viability for hydrogen fuel cell solutions
During a time when rising fuel prices are on the minds of all Americans, everyone, including President Obama, is looking for alternative energy sources to help establish independence from foreign oil. Plug Power Inc. (Nasdaq:PLUG), a leader in providing clean, reliable energy solutions, works daily to remind our Country's top policy and business leaders that hydrogen fuel cell systems are not a solution for the future, but are a commercially viable alternative-energy-powered solution today.
Plug Power's GenDrive ® fuel cell units replace lead-acid batteries in material handling and industrial trucks for some of North America's largest distribution and manufacturing businesses. Customers include Walmart, FedEx Freight, BMW and Sysco. To date, over 1,000 units operate in the field and have accumulated over 2 million hours of runtime. At the same time, over 250,000 hydrogen fuelings have been performed by Plug Power's customers to date. That equates to over 7,500 fuelings performed by lift truck operators every week.
These impressive statistics are further proof that hydrogen fuel cells are being adopted and used at a commercial level, today. Businesses are phasing out incumbent, toxic technologies in favor of building out their facilities around a reliable hydrogen infrastructure.
"Not only are fuel cells delivering clean, reliable and efficient power to major corporations, military installations and college campuses across the country, they are generating high wage, green jobs, too," said Ruth Cox, president and executive director of the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association. "Fuel cells and hydrogen energy systems are American engineered, American manufactured and domestically fueled, supporting U.S. goals for energy independence and a robust clean energy economy."
"Americans are better than the fuel we import to put into our vehicles. That is why we should take a more serious look at fuel cells – units that we make in America, today. These are real products that are creating jobs, cleaning up our environment and increasing our global security. As if that's not enough, this product is export ready – to go from America to other countries around the globe. Instead of pouring billions of taxpayer dollars into foreign oil subsidies while consumers are still gouged at the pump, we should invest in domestic, clean and export ready technology right here in New York."
Plug Power is taking an aggressive approach to communicate this message of commercial viability for hydrogen fuel cells. On Friday, March 18, Plug Power will host Congressman Chris Gibson and David Connors, Regional Director (Capital Region) for New York State Senator, Kirsten Gillibrand. Both individuals will receive a tour of Plug Power's 50,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility, seeing GenDrive units assembled right here in Latham.
Demonstrating the reliability of GenDrive, Plug Power will be participating in the ProMat 2011 trade show in Chicago, IL on March 21-24. At North America's largest material handling expo, Plug Power will operate, live, a GenDrive fuel cell powering an electric lift truck at its booth space, #3550.
"Plug Power has established itself as the clear leader in developing today's hydrogen fuel cell industry, specifically for the material handling and industrial fleet vehicle industry," said Andy Marsh, CEO at Plug Power. "At Plug Power, we understand that the concrete foundation we are laying today for hydrogen fuel cells will make them viable for additional applications in the future. We are fully committed to lay those building blocks."
About Plug Power Inc.
The architects of modern fuel cell technology, Plug Power revolutionized the industry with cost-effective power solutions that increase productivity, lower operating costs and reduce carbon footprints. Long-standing relationships with industry leaders forged the path for our key accounts, including Wegmans, Whole Foods, and FedEx Freight. With more than 1,000 units in the field and over 2 million hours of runtime, Plug Power manufactures tomorrow's incumbent power solutions today. Visit us at www.plugpower.com.
Researchers claim fuel cell breakthrough
March 22 - Cleveland - U.S. researchers say they've made a breakthrough in the development of low-cost hydrogen fuel cells that one day could power electric cars.
Researchers at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland say catalysts made of carbon nanotubes dipped in a polymer solution can outperform traditional platinum catalysts in fuel cells at a fraction of the cost.
The scientists say the new technology can remove one of the biggest roadblocks to widespread cell use: the cost of the catalysts.
Platinum, which represents at least a quarter of the cost of fuel cells, currently sells for about $30,000 per pound, while the activated carbon nanotubes cost about $45 per pound, a Case release said Tuesday.
"This is a breakthrough," Liming Dai, a professor of chemical engineering and the research team leader, said.
Soaking carbon nanotubes in a water solution of the polymer for a couple of hours coats the nanotube surface and pulls an electron partially from the carbon, creating a net positive charge, researchers said.
When placed on the cathode of an alkaline fuel cell, the charged material acts as a catalyst for the oxygen-reduction reaction that produces electricity by electrochemically combining hydrogen and oxygen.
In testing, the researchers' carbon catalyst fuel cell produced as much power as an identical cell using a platinum catalyst.
Dai said he's confident his lab can increase the energy output of the new process.
"We have not optimized the system yet," he said.
One widely researched use for such cells would be to produce electricity to power an electric car, using hydrogen and oxygen from the air. The only emission from such a vehicle, researchers say, would be water.
London Black Cabs Going Hydrogen
Londoners are on track to receive free WiFi in all of their tube stations and soon they’ll be transported in brand new zero emission black cabs thanks to a hybrid Hydrogen fuel and battery pack system.
The taxis we’re developed by a clean energy consortium that includes Lotus Engineering, London Taxis International and TRW Conekt. They say the cabs will be able to complete a full days worth of driving on just one tank and charge, which equates to about 250 miles. Acceleration is less impressive, providing a 0-60mph in just 14 seconds.
The new hybrid, clean cabs have been awarded Road Legal status by the UK Vehicle Certification Authority, and should begin a full fleet roll out by 2012.
Road Legal Fuel Cell Black Cabs Make First Appearance on London’s Roads
(Posted 28th March 2011)
LOUGHBOROUGH, UK, 28th March 2011 - Intelligent Energy, the global clean power systems company, has announced that the Fuel Cell Black Cabs have taken to the roads of London for the first time since being awarded Road Legal status by the UK Vehicle Certification Authority (VCA). At an event on 22nd March 2011, one of the Intelligent Energy powered taxis travelled from Forbes House, headquarters of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) and the taxi’s base for the day, to some of London’s most iconic landmarks.
The project to deliver a fleet of the zero emission taxis to the streets of London in time for 2012 is on track, with the first Fuel Cell Black Cabs covering a combined total of over 8,000 miles in road and test track testing conditions. During its first tour of London’s roads, one of the Fuel Cell Black Cabs excelled in rush-hour traffic, with smooth and responsive acceleration provided by the fuel cell and electric motors.
Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, wants to make Britain a leader in fuel cell technology and has already announced plans to increase hydrogen refuelling stations around the capital. He said, “These prototype zero-emission taxis are a shining example of British ingenuity, combining revolutionary fuel cell technology with an iconic design classic. This marks an important milestone in my goal to create a cleaner cab fleet, firstly through introduction of the first ever age limits moving towards zero-emission vehicles as they come to market. Affordable and low polluting cabs are within our grasp and I urge manufacturers to accelerate efforts to produce them.”
The zero emission taxis have been developed by a consortium, led by Intelligent Energy, which includes Lotus Engineering, London Taxis International and TRW Conekt with part-funding from the UK Government’s Technology Strategy Board. The fuel cell and battery powered hybrid taxi provides a 250 mile driving range with rapid refuelling, all within the confines of the body of a conventional London taxi. Now that fully functional, validated, proven vehicles have been produced, the consortium plans to push ahead with the delivery of a fleet to London in time for 2012.
“The Fuel Cell Black Cabs are now road proven with thousands of miles of operation. Indeed, many people may have seen them as they have been driven around various parts of the UK, but we are now happy to formally announce their road legal status and that you will be seeing more of them in the coming months,” noted Dr. Henri Winand, Chief Executive of Intelligent Energy. “At a time when London will soon be demonstrating its commitment to excellence in the sporting arena, we are proud to show that the UK can also deliver world-leading zero emissions, fuel cell electric vehicle technology that will make a real difference both to lowering carbon emissions and improving air quality.”
Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne said:
“Green vehicles are taking to the streets in a big way. High petrol prices and the desire to clean up our air quality make them the smart choice. The zero emissions London taxi looks and performs just like a conventional taxi, even over long distances. It’s a great British innovation and I look forward to seeing them in service in London next year.”
Paul Everitt, Chief Executive of SMMT, said:
“The UK is at the heart of the global low carbon industry and is a leader for research and development into new technologies. Over the coming years the low carbon sector is set to become increasingly important for manufacturers and motorists. The Fuel Cell Black Cab is a terrific example of British engineering skills and pioneering innovation”.
About Intelligent Energy
Intelligent Energy is a global clean power systems company, with a range of leading fuel cell and hydrogen generation technologies. The company partners with leading global companies in the transportation, oil and gas, aerospace, defence, distributed generation and portable power markets. Current partners and customers include Scottish & Southern Energy plc and The Suzuki Motor Corporation, with whom Intelligent Energy built the Burgman Fuel Cell Scooter, a recent recipient of European WVTA (Whole Vehicle Type Approval) – a first for any fuel cell vehicle, which qualifies the scooter as safe to use on all EU public roads and another important commercial milestone on the path to clean, user friendly mobility for all. Other Intelligent Energy world’s firsts in recent years include the development of the world’s first hydrogen fuel cell motorbike and supplying the fuel cell system to Boeing which powered the world’s first manned fuel cell aircraft.
Picture of a London Black Cab
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