11.1.2011 Fuel Cells Energize America's Top Companies
11.1.2011 WEYLCHEM SUSTAINABLE MATERIALS Announces New Production Unit in Columbia, South Carolina, to Support Growing Fuel Cell Industry
11.2.2011 Firm plans new production line in Elgin
11.2.2011 Hydrogen-powered taxis coming to London
11.4.2011 1st green hydrogen filling station opens in Taiwan
11.8.2011 Baldor powers forklifts through fuel cells
11.11.2011 Could your pee power the next generation of fuel cells?
11.14.2011 PostBus to use fuel cell technology in public transport
11.14.2011 Researchers develop fuel cell truck
11.14.2011 SunLine's new first-of-its-kind bus ready to go
11.15.2011 FuelCell Energy Announces World's Largest Fuel Cell Park Operating in South Korea
11.16.2011 CT Transit awarded $5.7M for fuel cell
11.17.2011 Ballard To Provide Fuel Cells For Two Additional SunLine Transit Buses Under FTA Award
11.17.2011 SCM going green with hydrogen fuel cells in vehicles
11.18.2011 Next-Generation Flex-Fuel Cells Ready to Hit the Market
11.18.2011 U.S. Army Unveils Backup Power Fuel Cells at Aberdeen Proving Ground
11.23.2011 Santa's warehouse workers go green with fuel cells
11.25.2011 Home and commercial use fuel cells to be sold in the UK from 2014
11.25.2011 Hydrogenics Awarded Swiss Hydrogen Fueling Station Equipment Order by Air Liquide
11.28.2011 Investment in Fuel Cells for Auxiliary Power Unit Applications to Reach $400 Million by 2020, According to Pike Research
11.29.2011 ClearEdge Designs Fuel Cells To Replace Power From The Grid
11.29.2011 More Companies Bypassing Electric Grid Inefficiencies With Fuel Cells
11.30.2011 Tokyo 2011: Toyota FCV-R Concept Previews Production Fuel Cell Car
Fuel Cells Energize America's Top Companies
WASHINGTON -- In a little more than a year, 34 corporate customers have installed, deployed or purchased more than 250 fuel cell power systems and hundreds of backup power units, totaling more than 30 MW of power, plus more than 1,000 fuel cell-powered forklifts.
"The Business Case for Fuel Cells 2011: Energizing America's Top Companies," a new report released today by Fuel Cells 2000, a non-profit education and outreach organization based in Washington, DC., profiles 24 new corporate fuel cell customers as well as revisiting 10 companies that have installed or ordered additional systems for several North American locations since last year.
"Companies are collectively saving millions of dollars in electricity costs while reducing carbon emissions by hundreds of thousands of metric tons per year using fuel cell forklifts and power systems," said Jennifer Gangi, program director, Fuel Cells 2000. "The U.S. is the world leader in both fuel cell-forklift deployments and combined heat and power installations, with both markets dominated by American fuel cell manufacturers, helping provide jobs and opportunities for export. All the companies profiled in this report are using fuel cells from suppliers with headquarters in the U.S."
In 2010, Fuel Cells 2000 profiled 38 companies that collectively ordered, deployed or installed 15 MW of stationary power, 1,000 forklifts and 600 backup power units. This new 2011 report includes 24 new customers and 10 companies previously profiled that purchased additional units. Companies leading the charge with fuel cell deployment include:
-- Walmart -- 6.8 MW at 17 stores; 70+ forklifts
-- Coca-Cola -- 2.1 MW at four locations; 72 forklifts at two bottling facilities
-- Sysco -- 500+ forklifts at several locations, hundreds more on order
-- Whole Foods -- 1.2 MW at four grocery stores, 60+ forklifts
"Fuel cells are not only helping businesses boost their environmental and economic bottom lines, they are also providing a much-needed assist to American manufacturing," says Gangi. "Newcomers like NBCUniversal, Kroger, and Kaiser Permanente and repeat customers such as Coca-Cola, Walmart and AT&T are helping keep the U.S. at the head of the pack in the clean technology game."
To download the full free report, please click here.
SOURCE: Fuel Cells 2000
WEYLCHEM SUSTAINABLE MATERIALS ANNOUNCES NEW PRODUCTION UNIT IN COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA, TO SUPPORT GROWING FUEL CELL INDUSTRY
WeylChem to Produce Multi-Purpose Compound to Power Fuel Cell Devices
Orlando, FL -- November 01, 2011 WeylChem Sustainable Materials (WCSM), a subsidiary of WeylChem US Inc., located in Elgin, South Carolina, announced the launch of its commercial scale production in the Columbia, SC, region of hydrogen-rich ammonia borane, a multi-purpose compound that can be used to efficiently power fuel cell devices among other commercial uses during a presentation with the USC-City of Columbia Fuel Cell Collaborative today at the 2011 Fuel Cell Seminar & Exposition in Orlando, FL. This news comes one year after WCSM was awarded first place in the 2010 Greater Columbia Fuel Cell Challenge, an annual innovation-based business plan competition organized by the award-winning USC-City of Columbia Fuel Cell Collaborative, for their innovative and cost-effective method of producing the fuel with a high level of purity, its potential for multiple market applications, and the unique partnership the firm formed with a local Columbia group.
WCSM is leveraging its proprietary production process to create commercial scale quantities of the compound, which will reduce its overall cost and provide a steady supply to commercial consumers. The reduced cost will make the chemical a more attractive fuel option for fuel cell driven devices such as those manufactured by Columbia-based Trulite, Inc., a portable fuel cell solutions firm.
WeylChem, based in Germany with operations in the US, first partnered with Columbia-based Boroscience International in 2009 to develop a viable process to produce commercial quantities of the compound. The compound is primarily considered a break-through environmentally-friendly fuel for fuel cell driven devices. However, it can also be used as a high energy additive to satellite and jet fuel propellants and has applications in the pharmaceutical, electronic, ceramic and nanotechnology industries.
“The initiation of commercial production shows the industry that we’ve produced a product ready to enter the commercial market,” said Dr. Andreas Maier, managing director for WeylChem International, GmbH. “The demand for viable fuel cell solutions and a continuous supply of ammonia-borane is increasing rapidly, and we believe WeylChem will be the premier supplier of the compound as an affordable and scalable commercial solution to meet that demand.”
The new process will benefit end users seeking to integrate the compound in industrial applications by producing large quantities of ammonia borane at a purity of over 99%, a feat WeylChem claims it is the first to do in the industry. As a fuel source, the compound’s high purity will deliver a more even burst of energy making it more efficient when compared to less pure version of the compound. Additionally, the high purity makes the product more stable for safer storage in comparison to other products. The production unit will be a retrofit of a current WeylChem US facility located in Elgin, SC. As market demand increases for the product line, WCSM will continue to scale-up the pilot production.
“We’re thrilled WCSM has been able to continue its success since winning the Greater Columbia Fuel Cell Challenge,” said Don Herriot, director of Innovista at the University of South Carolina, which is a member organization of the USC-City of Columbia Fuel Cell Collaborative. “We hope WCSM continues to take advantage of our region’s track record of attracting and retaining talented researchers, entrepreneurs and firms in the fuel cell industry by continuing to invest their resources here.”
WCSM’s production milestone adds to a growing list of fuel cell and hydrogen focused activity in the Columbia, SC, region. WCSM joins other new fuel cell related businesses locating to the Columbia region, including Trulite, Inc., which relocated to Columbia in 2009, and LOGANEnergy Carolina, a world-leader in providing fuel cell solutions for clean energy services, which opened its doors in Columbia in July 2011. Additionally, South Carolina was recognized as a “Top 5 Fuel Cell State” by Fuel Cells 2000 in July 2011 in its annual State of the States report, and the USC-City of Columbia Fuel Cell Collaborative was recognized in September 2011 by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) with an Excellence in Economic Development Award.
WCSM and the USC-City of Columbia Fuel Cell Collaborative are representing Columbia, SC’s fuel cell economy at the 2011 Fuel Cell Seminar & Exposition, in Orlando, FL, from November 1 through November 3, 2011, which is the annual gathering of the industry’s top fuel cell researchers, experts, and vendors.
About WeylChem Sustainable Materials
WCSM is a fully owned subsidiary of WeylChem US Inc, a chemical manufacturing company with more than 40 years of experience in organic chemistry and uses a modular system of chemical reactions including more than 50 reaction types. The Elgin, SC plant is a safe, reliable and cost competitive US production facility. It utilizes a flexible asset base that can perform multipurpose chemistry from pilot plant quantities to large scale production. WeylChem is continuously looking for and implementing new and novel technologies and hardware respectively in order to satisfy customers demand for more faster, economic and more efficient processes. A wide range of technologies is handled, allowing us to flexibly develop and install products whose synthesis involves various and complex reaction pathways. WCSM is another step in the same direction. For more information, visit www.weylchem.com.
About the USC-City of Columbia Fuel Cell Collaborative
The USC–Columbia Fuel Cell Collaborative was formed by the University of South Carolina, the City of Columbia, EngenuitySC and SCRA, to position Columbia, S.C., as a leader in hydrogen fuel cell innovation and technology. Its mission is to attract private sector partners, top fuel cell scientists, entrepreneurs, and innovators to the Columbia region to help grow an innovation pipeline from discovery to development to deployment of fuel cell technology. For more information, visit www.fuelcellcollaborative.com.
Firm plans new production line in Elgin
WeylChem Sustainable Materials, which produces hydrogen-rich ammonia borane to power fuel cells, is opening a new production line in Elgin (South Carolina).
The company, based in Frankfurt, Germany, won a $100,000 first place grant from the Greater Columbia Fuel Cell Challenge last year for its business plan. It will match that grant 5 to 1 over the next three years, said Emily Brady, a spokeswoman for the USC-City of Columbia Fuel Cell Collaborative, which conducts the challenge.
The ammonia borane compound can be used to power fuel cell devices, can be added to satellite and jet fuel and has applications in the pharmaceutical, electronic, ceramic and nanotechnology industries, according to a release.
The announcement was made Tuesday by WeylChem and the collaborative at the 2011 Fuel Cell Seminar and Expo being held this week in Orlando, Fla.
The number of jobs to be created has yet to be determined. The company presently has several employees at its location at 2114 Larry Jeffers Road preparing for the new production line.
The announcement is considered another boost for the city’s and region’s efforts to become a hydrogen and fuel cell hub.
• Trulite, Inc., a fuel cell manufacturer which relocated to Columbia in 2009
• LOGANEnergy Carolina, which develops and installs fuel cell backup power systems. It opened in Columbia in July.
South Carolina was recognized as a Top 5 Fuel Cell State by Fuel Cells 2000 magazine in July, and the collaborative was recognized in September by the International Economic Development Council with an Excellence in Economic Development Award.
Hydrogen-powered taxis coming to London
Boris Johnson’s vision for a zero-emission London will move a small step forward when 15 hydrogen-powered black cabs are introduced to the capital.
The Hytec (Hydrogen Transport for European Cities) project will see the taxis, along with five hydrogen-powered Suzuki Bergmann scooters, transporting passengers across the capital. An Air Products hydrogen fuelling station will also be installed as part of the scheme, which is being part-funded by the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking.
Two hydrogen fuelling stations are already working in the capital to support the city’s hydrogen buses and the new station will link up with these facilities. This will help to create an infrastructure network for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in London ahead of next year’s Olympic Games.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “I want London to become a zero-emission city in order to deliver cleaner air and improve quality of life. It is important that London champions innovative new technologies to get us to this point, which is why I am delighted we are set to get even more hydrogen vehicles on our streets in time for the Olympic and Paralympic Games and beyond.
“This supports my drive to promote the uptake of cleaner vehicles such as electric cars and the new fleet of hydrogen buses running in London, which is setting industry standards.”
Commuters on the RV1 route already use hydrogen buses to travel around the capital and the new hydrogen-fuelled scooters and taxis will allow more Londoners to experience the technology. Hydrogen is said to offer the same speed, range and fuelling time as conventional fuels, but has no emissions at the point of use.
Johnson wants to encourage the use of low and zero emission technologies to help tackle pollution and clean up London’s air, with the new vehicles forming part of this vision.
Air Products European business manager of hydrogen energy systems and Hytec project coordinator Diana Raine said: “This new project shows London is leading the way in establishing hydrogen transport infrastructure compared to other environmental world cities. Creating a network of hydrogen fuelling stations will make it possible for fleets of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in the capital, cutting carbon emissions and air pollution.”
The project is being led by the industry and uses the knowledge of some 16 businesses which are heavily involved in developing hydrogen infrastructure and technology.
1st green hydrogen filling station opens in Taiwan
Taiwan’s first combined renewable biohydrogen workshop and hydrogen filling station was launched at Feng Chia University in the central city of Taichung Nov. 3.
After testing out a hydrogen car at the inaugural ceremony, Taichung Deputy Mayor Tsai Ping-kun said, “This completely nonpolluting concept vehicle marks a major step forward for environmental protection.”
The university stated that with the global problem of environmental pollution caused by traditional energy sources growing daily, the school decided in 1998 to begin developing biohydrogen energy technology in cooperation with the National Science Council and Bureau of Energy under the Ministry of Economic Affairs.
At the opening of the new facility, the university presented its research achievements in using microbial technology to transform agricultural waste biomass into fuel for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
The university said a hydrogen concept vehicle has been test driven on the campus for the past year, adding that the findings of this testing could be used for future hydrogen energy research.
Lee Bing-jean, vice president of the university, said the hydrogen fuel cell car produces only water vapor and no air pollutants and is therefore 100-percent environmentally friendly.
The university said that, with the support of the BOE’s Bioenergy Technology Research Center and the NSC’s International Cooperation office, it began operating the APEC Research Center for Advanced Biohydrogen Technology, and developed the hydrogen filling station and hydrogen vehicle in response to green initiatives advocated by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.
It added that this technology will help to raise the international status of Taiwan and the university, and assist them in becoming international leaders in hydrogen energy research and development, through upstream and downstream technology integration and economic performance assessment. (SB)
Baldor powers forklifts through fuel cells
A New York produce distributor plans to install methanol fuel cells to more efficiently operate its fleet of battery-operated material handling equipment.
Baldor Specialty Foods Inc., Bronx, is working with Oorja Protonics Inc. in the installation of 50 OorjaPac fuel cell systems on its facility near the Hunts Point Terminal Market.
The OorjaPac system functions as a clean and efficient energy source to run Baldor’s forklifts. Using the system should lower the wholesaler’s dependence on electricity and reduce its carbon footprint, according to a news release.
The fuel cell products run on widely available and low-cost liquid alcohol fuel, according to the release. The fuel cell installation also requires little infrastructure changes and makes such cells attractive for existing and new facilities, according to the release.
“Baldor Foods is excited to be working with Oorja to help us achieve our corporate sustainability goals,” Mike Muzyk, Baldor’s president, said in the release. “We are very impressed by the technology, as it is environmentally-friendly and will also help us save cost and improve productivity.”
Muzyk said he hopes Baldor’s adaptation of the fuel cells helps encourage his other Hunts Point industrial park food distribution competitors to follow suit.
Baldor plans to install the cells in early 2012.
Could your pee power the next generation of fuel cells?
Urine-based biomass touted as way of reducing harmful impact of animal wee
We each produce 2.5 litres of the stuff a day and a total of 6.4 trillion litres globally, but until now it has been widely regarded as a rather unpleasant waste product.
However, a team of UK scientists reckon they may have found an extremely useful application for urine by turning it into electricity.
Dr Ioannis Ieropoulos and his team of scientists at the University of the West of England, Bristol, published research this week investigating whether urine could be used in microbial fuel cells.
The paper concludes that urine is rich in chemicals that can effectively be used in the cathode half of a fuel cell to react with bacteria in the anode.
The initial tests confirmed that urine-powered fuel cells are technically feasible, and the team now hopes to scale up a prototype system capable of powering homes, businesses or even a small village.
The researchers are particularly interested in using the 38 billion litres of urine produced each day by farm animals, which can have an adverse effect on the environment if not properly managed.
The fuel cells would effectively clean the urine so that it could be safely discharged into the environment, removing the need for costly and energy-intensive treatment by wastewater companies.
Ieropoulos explained that, while the team managed to produce only a small amount of power during trials, it is now looking at stacking up the fuel cells so that the stream of urine runs through the system and produces more power.
"The impact of this could be huge, since it enables us to think of 'waste' in a new way, and offers great potential for the future," he said.
Glastonbury festival founder Michael Eavis has said that he would consider using urine produced by festival-goers to generate electricity for the event.
PostBus to use fuel cell technology in public transport
PostBus has announced that it will use fuel cell technology in public transport after the timetable change in December 2011 in Switzerland.
PostBus routes in and around Brugg in the Canton Aargau will be serviced by fuel cell postbuses. Significant support is provided for this long-term test by various partners, such as the Canton Aargau, the Swiss Federal Office of Energy and the European Union.
PostBus will test fuel cell drives during the next five years. Starting on 11 December 2011, five fuel cell postbuses will gradually take up regular operation in Brugg.
The five fuel cell postbuses will be operated by the PostBus company Voegtlin-Meyer AG. The vehicles will be parked and fuelled at the company's facilities in Brugg. The Canton Aargau will support the fuel cell postbus project as a partner for five years with a total contribution of CHF1.5 million from the Swiss Lottery Fund.
The first hydrogen fuelling station for buses in Switzerland will be built by PostBus in the next few months. Service is expected to start up in the spring of 2012.
The long-term test is focusing on ecological sustainability. Most of the hydrogen will be produced at the fuel station in Brugg and will be fully generated by renewable energy sources, such as hydro-electric power, solar, wind energy, and biomass plants. Energy provider IBB in Brugg will supply the necessary power for the hydrogen production, which is CO2-neutral. Hydrogen-powered vehicles emit only steam, no exhaust gases, and the noise emissions are negligible. Moreover, during the braking process the postbuses recapture energy, which is stored and subsequently used to operate or to heat or cool the vehicle. PostBus anticipates that it will save at least 2,000 tons of CO2 during the five-year trial phase.
Researchers develop fuel cell truck
New fuel will make freight transport by road clean, green and silent
Researchers with Australia’s RMIT University have developed the country’s first hydrogen fuel cell truck which they hope will make freight transport by road clean, green and silent.
The small-scale truck model is operated by remote control and simulates the performance of a long-haul diesel truck, typically used between Melbourne and Sydney.
It is an exact replica of the Scania Highline series - often described as the Porsche of the truck world, Scania Trucks are the most desired by drivers and owner operators.
Professor Aleksandar Subic, Head of the School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, said given the carbon tax, emissions trading and rising diesel costs, new sustainable technologies offered industry a way of stabilising costs.
“For residents worried about fumes and noise, the prospect of a silent, zero-emission truck is exciting,” he said.
“This latest innovation stems from our comprehensive research into sustainable mobility involving hydrogen technologies. We are also researching production of hydrogen using photovoltaic arrays and electrolysers, and solid state hydrogen storage,” Professor Subic said.
The hydrogen-powered electrical system could also supply power for truck air-conditioning and radio, along with a trailer refrigeration unit. Hydrogen refilling stations are powered through solar PV panels.
SunLine's new first-of-its-kind bus ready to go
Thousand Palms — Here's what you'll hear when the doors open on SunLine Transit Agency's newest, all-American made fuel cell bus.
The first all-American made fuel cell bus in the nation, it runs on hydrogen, produces zero greenhouse gas emissions and is electric, so the doors open without so much as a swoosh.
“It's like a 40-foot-long golf cart,” said Tommy Edwards, director of maintenance, standing on the bus during a very quiet test drive on Tuesday.
What you'll see when the bus hits the streets after today's official unveiling in Thousand Palms is another matter all together.
A patriotic statement in motion, the sleek, silent vehicle has the Stars and Stripes unfurling down its sides, along with an American eagle and a bold “Made in America” stamp.
The bus will run on different SunLine routes so riders all over the valley have a chance to hop aboard, said C. Mikel Oglesby, SunLine's general manager.
“We hope people will ride and really think about the technology,” he said. “As a matter of fact, it will take some getting used to — everything from the seats to the fuel cell to the interior lights.”
The agency will monitor the vehicle to see if it performs up to expectations, especially during the desert's hot summer months, he said.
Made in America
Federal definitions of American-made require products to contain at least 60 percent U.S.-sourced materials. SunLine pushed hard to get more than 90 percent of the new bus from American manufacturers, with components coming from 16 different states.
From design to roll-out, the bus took 19 months to build, Oglesby said. Final assembly was done at El Dorado National, a commercial bus manufacturer in Riverside.
Making a fuel-cell bus in the U.S. has been a consuming passion for Oglesby and SunLine for the past decade, turning the Coachella Valley into a leader in the development and testing of clean, green public transportation.
The agency rolled out its first buses running on compressed natural gas (CNG) 17 years ago. It now has a full fleet of 68 CNG vehicles and began working on fuel cell technology in 2000 in partnership with the Federal Transportation Administration.
The new bus is the seventh-generation prototype fuel cell vehicle the agency has helped build and test since then. With improvements in technology and efficiency, it is closing in on conventional diesel busses in durability and cost, Oglesby said.
The fuel cell in the new bus is lighter and smaller than previous versions and should last five years versus the six-year life-span for a standard diesel bus, he said.
On cost, the prototype carried a $10 million price tag, paid for with money from the FTA, as well as the South Coast Air Quality Management District and the California Air Resources Board.
Mass production will be needed to drive the cost down to about $1.2 million to under a million, Oglesby said.
The average diesel or CNG bus costs about $400,000, he said.
Fuel cells work by splitting hydrogen atoms into negative ions, electricity and positive ions that combine with oxygen to make water.
The technology dates back to the beginning of the U.S. space program, so why has it taken so long to come up with an American-made fuel cell bus?
“The technology has been evolving,” said Bob Devine, program manager for BAE Systems, which provided the electric system for the bus. “Now it's matured and we're able to assemble components.”
Ballard Power Systems, a Canadian fuel-cell manufacturer, had provided this current generation of fuel cells for busses in Europe and Canada, but for SunLine it set up a new production line at a plant it owns in Lowell, Mass., said Jeff Grant, a business development manager for the company.
Since then, it has produced fuel cells in Lowell for busses destined for Chattanooga, Tenn., Columbus, Ohio, and Columbia, S.C., he said.
If costs can be reduced, the all-American bus could find national and global markets, he said.
“We have to look at new fuels that are sustainable,” Oglesby said. “I think hydrogen is the way to go.”
FuelCell Energy Announces World's Largest Fuel Cell Park Operating in South Korea
11.2 Megawatt Fuel Cell Park Providing Ultra-clean Power to the Electric Grid
DANBURY, Conn., -- FuelCell Energy, Inc. a leading manufacturer of ultra-clean, efficient and reliable power plants, today announced that the world's largest fuel cell park is now operating in Daegu City, South Korea. The 11.2 megawatt (MW) fuel cell park includes four 2.8 MW DFC3000 Direct FuelCell(R) (DFC(R)) power plants, a scalable solution for providing ultra-clean baseload distributed generation close to where the power is used. The ultra-clean electricity generated by this facility is sold to the electric grid and usable high quality heat is provided to a neighboring water treatment facility.
"As an investor, this fuel cell project was interesting due to the favorable environmental impact that a fuel cell power plant offers by virtually eliminating pollutants and minimizing carbon emissions combined with attractive financial returns enabled by the high efficiency of the power generation process," said Hyung Gee Chung, CEO, The Cobalt Sky.
FuelCell Energy's South Korean partner, POSCO Power, sold and installed the DFC power plants to The Cobalt Sky, a South Korean based investment and energy consulting firm. The ultra-clean electricity is sold to an electric utility and the high-grade heat to the local municipality for their wastewater treatment facility under long term power purchase agreements. The plants operate on imported natural gas so the high efficiency of DFC plants is valued. The electricity generated by this fuel cell park is adequate to power approximately 20,000 South Korean homes.
"This installation demonstrates how fuel cells provide clean, quiet and continuous power with relatively small space requirements," said Taehyoung Kim, Group Leader, Fuel Cell Division, POSCO Power. "Distributing a number of multi-megawatt fuel cell parks throughout an electrical service area enhances power reliability and energy security for electric utilities and their customers."
The 11.2 MW fuel cell park only occupies approximately one acre of land, which is an advantage for providing environmentally friendly power in urban locations. By comparison, a concentrating solar power plant of similar capacity would occupy about 55 acres, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
FuelCell Energy power plants help solve power generation challenges facing electric utilities by providing:
Ultra-clean power: Fuel cells generate power electrochemically, without combustion, resulting in virtually no pollutants, such as NOx, Sox or particulate matter. This is a public health benefit for electric utilities and the local community.
High efficiency: Fuel cells are the most efficient baseload power generation option for their size class, providing the most power from a given unit of fuel. High efficiency also reduces carbon emissions compared to less efficient combustion-based power generation.
Scalable: DFC plants are scalable, providing a cost effective approach to adding power generation incrementally as power demand grows within electric utility service areas.
Distributed Generation: Generating power near the point of use lessens the need for electric utilities to invest in costly and difficult to site transmission and distribution.
Reliable: Distributed generation improves power reliability and energy security by lessening reliance on transmission and distribution.
Easy to site: The combination of near-zero pollutants, modest land-use needs, and quiet operating nature of DFC plants facilitates their siting in urban locations.
"Fuel cell parks like this 11.2 megawatt facility in South Korea are an attractive solution for electric utilities to incrementally add ultra-clean power generation throughout their service area in a cost efficient manner," said Chip Bottone, President and Chief Executive Officer, FuelCell Energy, Inc. "Our power plants are scalable and we expect even larger fuel cell parks to be built globally."
DFC power plants are 47 percent electrically efficient and can achieve total efficiencies up to 90 percent 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 can lessen reliance on combustion based boilers used for heating, further reducing costs and carbon emissions. By comparison, the electrical efficiency of grid delivered electricity from the average U.S. fossil-fueled power plant is only about 33-36 percent.
The core fuel cell components for this 11.2 MW project were manufactured by FuelCell Energy in the USA and the supporting balance of plant was manufactured by POSCO Power in South Korea. This partnership between FuelCell Energy and POSCO Power illustrates the value of a localization strategy to ensure the product best fits the needs of the local market while also creating local jobs. POSCO Power has ordered 140 MW of ultra clean, highly efficient fuel cell power plants, modules and components since 2007.
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
CT Transit awarded $5.7M for fuel cell
Connecticut Transit received a $5.7 million federal award on Wednesday to install a stationary fuel cell at the New Haven Division bus maintenance facility.
With the money, CT Transit can install the fuel cell that will produce electricity onsite for the maintenance facility while recovering waste heat from the chemical process. This form of distributed generation allows facilities to reduce their reliance on the electric grid for power while also using cleaner energy technology.
The grant comes from the federal Transit Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction Program, also known as TIGGER. The program is run by the Federal Transit Administration.
TIGGER is a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the so-called stimulus bill. In allocating federal funds for certain programs like TIGGER, the Obama Administration wants to shift the country toward cleaner, more environmentally friendly energy.
Ballard To Provide Fuel Cells For Two Additional SunLine Transit Buses Under FTA Award
VANCOUVER - Follows earlier launch of first Buy America-compliant fuel cell bus, also powered by Ballard
Ballard Power Systems will be providing fuel cell modules to power two new fuel cell hybrid buses, funded under the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) "Transit Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction (TIGGER) Program". As per today's announcement by the FTA, Ballard will work together with consortium partners BAE Systems and ElDorado National (California) to deliver these buses to SunLine Transit Agency in Thousand Palms, CA.
The TIGGER Program works directly with public transportation agencies to implement new strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and lowering energy use within transit operations. Through this Program, the FTA is playing a key role in accelerating fuel cell bus deployments, providing greater public exposure to the safe operation of zero-emission vehicles and encouraging broader acceptance of the technology.
Bill Foulds, Ballard's President of U.S. Operations said, "Earlier this week the very first All-America fuel cell-powered bus, using a Ballard module, was unveiled by SunLine Transit Agency and FTA Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan. The additional funding announced today by the FTA to grow SunLine's fuel cell bus fleet is further validation of our Buy America-compliant technology."
Under this new award, Ballard will supply FCvelocityTM-HD6 power modules for ElDorado fuel cell hybrid buses featuring a series hybrid electric drive from lead integrator BAE Systems. It is anticipated that these buses will be operational in 2013, bringing the total number of Ballard powered buses in use at SunLine Transit to four.
Ballard's fuel cell module is a 'plug-and-play' product that permits system integrators to readily build clean energy buses at reduced cost. The fuel cell module incorporates sub-system components for humidification, hydrogen pressure regulation, hydrogen recirculation, water management, ventilation and controls.
Ballard's Lowell, MA facility manufactures FCvelocityTM-HD6 fuel cell modules for the U.S. market. Highly innovative, zero-emission fuel cell buses are expected to play a critical role in the future of transit, preserving non-renewable energy sources and substantially reducing the environmental footprint.
About Ballard Power Systems Ballard Power Systems 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.
SCM going green with hydrogen fuel cells in vehicles
CORNWALL — A Walmart official held up the future of Cornwall's distribution centre as an example of sustainability in the shipping sector.
The Supply Chain Management warehouse will soon undergo a shift to vehicles with hydrogen fuel cells rather than regular batteries, following the model of a Walmart centre in Alberta that is fully serviced by renewable energy.
Virginia Garbutt, logistics director for Walmart, explained the new technology during a meeting with local businesses and industry officials at Cornwall's Nav Centre on Thursday.
"The results have been so phenomenal," she said.
She said over the coming weeks, the entire fleet that flows in and out of the SCM centre in the city's industrial park will be replaced by hydrogen-powered trucks. The change is expected to reduce carbon emissions and improve efficiencies.
Garbutt was one of three experts in the shipping and logistics field who spoke during the morning panel, covering topics such as employee engagement and improving competitiveness.
Paul Cooper, president of SHL Trucking, said his company has jumped into new methods to make their fleet more efficient. But he said it's not always an easy sell when they are investing in new technology rather than workers' raises.
"We're doing it for the right reasons," he said. "We have customers who otherwise wouldn't have done business with us."
The panel, which included Bob Armstrong, president of the non-profit Supply Chain and Logistics Association Canada, urged local companies to move to more sustainable practices as a way to remain competitive.
Cornwall's industrial park already houses SCM and a Shopper's Drug Mart distribution centre, while Target and another company are currently building massive warehouses as well.
Armstrong said it's crucial that the region trains the next generation for the jobs on the way.
"They're not here just looking for bodies, they're looking for skill," he said, adding that St. Lawrence College should consider new programs to educate supply chain workers.
He said technology changes quickly, and both companies and their workforces need to keep up to stay in the game, as it's often the shipping industry that makes or breaks a business.
"It's not companies that complete, it's the supply chain," said Armstrong.
Next-Generation Flex-Fuel Cells Ready to Hit the Market
Solid oxide fuel cells that can use conventional fossil fuels as well as hydrogen are set to take a larger role in the energy game
A fuel-cell power unit that can use natural gas, propane or diesel may in a couple of years provide on-site electricity to factories, computer-server farms and even your home. The solid oxide fuel cell, or SOFC, is also set to go mobile, with new systems providing auxiliary or "hotel" power to long-haul trucks. They may also keep a solar-powered surveillance drone in the sky for what could be years at a time. The latter's "two-way" fuel cell system could in addition electrolyze water to store backup energy as hydrogen to supplement intermittent solar and wind power. In time, say researchers, SOFCs might show up as range extenders—power units that augment batteries to extend distance driven electrically—in hybrid vehicles.
"Compared to any other device that converts chemical energy into electricity, the fuel cell, and in particular the solid oxide or ceramic fuel cell, is hands down the most efficient," says veteran fuel cell researcher Eric Wachsman, director of the University of Maryland Energy Research Center, who published research pointing the way to lower temperature SOFCs on November 18 in Science. That's why SOFCs can be tallied as green technology, even if their use of hydrocarbon fuels entails releases of carbon dioxide.
SOFCs have long been seen as second-string to the more well-known hydrogen-based fuel cells. That's because SOFCs run hot, too hot for cars. In the mid-1990s when the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) was selecting the technologies that would go into the green car of the future, Wachsman recalls, it chose the 80-degree Celsius polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells over the 1,000-degree C SOFC. But the continued lack of a hydrogen fuel distribution system means that "we placed our eggs in the wrong basket by investing billions in hydrogen PEMs instead of the type of fuel cell that runs off the fuels that we have today," Wachsman says.
That flexible-fueling advantage has, however, enabled Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Bloom Energy to sell some 120 natural gas–fuel SOFCs, stand-alone heat and power units that produce both electricity and heat for a local site, to green-minded Fortune 500 corporate plants and state university facilities—notably, subsidized distributed power demonstration projects in California. The company is even building a new plant in Delaware and will sell 30 megawatts of its Bloom Box fuel-cell units to the local utility, Delmarva Power. Unfortunately, Bloom Boxes use a traditional ceramic fuel-cell design that tends to be relatively expensive to operate, a competitive disadvantage that Bloom hopes to address with a new, lower-cost power-leasing program.
Hot power box
A SOFC converts a fuel's chemical energy into electricity, says Bob Stokes, a longtime fuel-cell researcher and CEO of Versa Power Systems in Littleton, Colo., one of the up-and-coming developers of SOFCs. In general, the system consists of two electrodes sandwiching a solid oxide or ceramic membrane (or electrolyte). The electrochemical device produces electricity directly by oxidizing—read, slow burning—fuels.
"Unlike other fuel cells which transport positively charged [hydrogen, or H+,] ions through a membrane, solid oxide types use a ceramic oxide—through which negatively charged oxygen ions pass," Stokes explains. The oxygen sensor in your car is based on the same yttria-stabilized zirconium oxide ceramic. The oxygen (O–) ions, react with hydrogen from the fuel to create water, electricity and, if the fuel contains hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide.
Fuel-flexible SOFCs don't have to use hydrogen as fuel; they can run just fine on hydrocarbon fuels, such as natural gas, propane or diesel. A system can either break down a carbon-containing fuel into hydrogen and carbon with a pretreatment steam reformer or do it internally, using its own heat and design.
And although SOFCs operate hotter than most other common fuel cell types, they can convert as much as 60 percent of the fuel into usable electricity, Stokes says. "This means that the amount of carbon dioxide it releases per unit of usable energy that it produces is half that of what a conventional engine emits." The heat also allows SOFC to run without the costly platinum-based catalysts that current polymer electrolyte membrane systems need.
Design and manufacturing innovations, funded in part by DoE programs, are bringing down the cost of the technology as well. Older SOFC designs use the electrolyte layer as a structural support, but the thicker component has a higher electrical resistance, which entails higher operating temperatures to avoid power losses, Wachsman explains.
Engineers have lowered operating temperatures by using electrode-supported designs with thin, more conductive electrolytes, but the new techniques needed to make the dense, gas-impermeable electrolyte layers can be problematic. "The thinner the membrane, the more unstable it is," he says. Developers often manage the trade-off between thickness and conductivity by supplementing the ceramic with scandium, a transition metal rare earth that boosts conductivity, albeit at a high cost.
Many manufacturers have adopted (or adapted) a tubular configuration, which enables relatively easy and thus low-cost assembly. Reduced temperatures in addition mean cheaper steels can be used elsewhere.
As a result of the design improvements, prospects for the technology are on the rise, says Brian Warshay, an analyst at Boston-based Lux Research who follows power grid–related technologies. "We see the main application for SOFCs in natural gas–fueled stationary power supplies for industrial users and those who need continuous, on-site distributed power such as Web-server farms—high-reliability base-load power systems of 100 kilowatts or larger," he says.
Heat and power units for homes may also become more common, such SOFCs can be 85 percent efficient. The fuel cell not only supplies electricity but heats the house and the hot water. These, Warshay notes, are particularly popular outside the U.S., "where energy usage is significantly lower than here," as the outsize electricity demands by American users would generally overtax the capacities of the first round of home-size heat and power models being marketed in Asia and Europe.
Stokes and other industry observers also expect even larger, megawatt-size distributed power units that are composed of modular 250-kilowatt stacks to hit the market within two to three years, having recently watched large multinational corporations such as General Electric and Rolls Royce sign supply deals with SOFC cell- and stack-makers.
Then there's trucks. Delphi engineers, using the newer electrode-supported design, have developed a five-kilowatt (maximum) SOFC auxiliary power unit (APU) for long-haul diesel rigs. The APU, which could arrive next year, would provide "hotel load power" for parked trucks.
Two-way fuel cells
Meanwhile, Versa, a solid oxide fuel cell stack supplier, is working with Boeing and "a large European company" on an innovative reversible SOFC that cycles back and forth between providing power and electrolyzing water into hydrogen and oxygen, Stokes says. The two-way system could store energy as hydrogen to back up intermittent solar or wind power installations and even the Solar Eagle, a dragonflylike unmanned aerial vehicle that is to fly multiyear missions.
Wachsman and his research colleagues have also published details in Science on a potential path toward SOFCs that operate at temperatures as low as 350 degrees C with a new design that features high-conductivity electrolytes and a specially nanostructured electrode.
SOFC technology capable of lower "intermediate" temperatures ranging from 600 to 800 degrees C is the goal of a recent half-million-dollar National Science Foundation project at Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Illinois at Chicago. Christos G. Takoudis's interdisciplinary team plans to wield a unique atomic layer deposition/chemical vapor deposition (ALD/CVD) hybrid reactor that can lay down novel thin-film cell materials and structures that run cooler by design.
But before that research group makes its final project report three years from now, second-generation improved ceramic SOFCs should have begun to augment the Bloom Box's initial success in occupying and developing a small but key niche of the energy market.
U.S. Army Unveils Backup Power Fuel Cells at Aberdeen Proving Ground
The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Department of Energy unveiled three fuel cells installed at the Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) facility in Maryland on Wednesday this week. The fuel cells are used to produce backup electricity for APG’s Building Operations Command Center which is the hub of the Garrison’s Energy Program.
The installation at Aberdeen is the first to be completed in a project that will bring fuel cells to 24 buildings across nine federal military sites in the next six months. The Department of Energy’s Fuel Cell Technologies Program funded most of the $2.5 million project, which is part of a larger Department of Defense initiative to boost the profile of alternative energy sources including wind, solar, geothermal, biogas, and waste-to-energy.
Seventy-five attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony at APG on Wednesday, which included speakers Major General Nick Justice, the commander of the Army’s Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM); Rick Farmer, Deputy Program Manager of the Fuel Cell Technologies Program; Adele Ratcliff, Director of the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Manufacturing Technology (ManTech) program; and Sam Logan, President and CEO of Logan Energy.
FCHEA’s own Director of Policy, James Warner, attended the event as well saying about the program that “The U.S. Army’s adoption of fuel cells as an alternative energy source is an important step toward making fuel cell and hydrogen technology an integral part of the nation’s clean energy portfolio.”
Fuel cells are also planned for installation at Fort Bragg, Fort Hood, West Point, Picatinny Arsenal, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Base, U.S. Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, the Ohio National Guard, and NASA's Ames Research Center. Click here to read the official press release on the fuel cell installation at APG.
James Warner, FCHEA Policy Director, at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the back up power fuel cells at Aberdeen Proving Ground.
Santa's warehouse workers go green with fuel cells
Thousands of battery-powered forklifts in warehouses across the U.S. will haul everything from frozen turkeys and cured hams to big-screen TVs and tablet computers this holiday season. A growing number of big-name businesses that operate such warehouses have begun deploying forklifts that run on fuel cells as a way to both save money and go green.
Most such fuel cell-powered forklifts working the North American warehouses of Coca-Cola, FedEx, Wal-Mart, Kroger and CVS come from an upstate New York company called Plug Power. The company has dominated fuel cell-powered forklift sales in North America by offering up its GenDrive fuel cell technology that boosts warehouse productivity, lowers operating costs and slashes carbon footprints.
"We convinced a group of large customers to give this technology a trial," said Andy Marsh, president and chief executive officer of Plug Power. "In some cases, customers who were repeat buyers became believers."
Beyond its rapid growth in the $4 billion North American market for handling materials, Plug Power has also taken aim at the $20 billion worldwide market. It recently struck a deal with Axane to begin deploying fuel cell-powered forklifts in Europe.
The company's expansion has relied upon how its fuel cells can transform the warehouse business by cleanly creating electricity from the chemical reaction between oxygen in the air and hydrogen gas. GenDrive fuel cells are paired with lithium-ion batteries.
Such fuel cells allow forklifts to continue working at full speed and power up until they need to refuel, whereas forklifts powered by lead-acid batteries suffer a performance drop-off of as much as 15 percent as their power drains.
Switching to fuel cells also allows businesses to eliminate battery switching and charging stations manned by full-time crews. Those can take up to 6 percent of valuable warehouse space. Instead, fuel cell-powered forklifts only need a wall-mounted hydrogen refueling station where vehicle operators can refuel within a few minutes.
Plug Power's list of customers has grown to more recently include Wal-Mart Canada, German automaker BMW, and food distributor Sysco. Those corporate giants have begun snapping up Plug Power's fuel cell-powered forklifts — ranging in cost from $12,000 to $28,000 — because they see big business savings despite the cost of the new equipment.
"One of the problems with the (fuel cell) industry for many years was that people didn't recognize that the money aspect is more important than the green aspect," Marsh told InnovationNewsDaily. "Customers want to make the right decision for the environment, but they also want to make the right decision financially."
Getting fuel cell technology to the point where it makes stronger business sense has taken about a decade, Marsh explained. Plug Power itself started in 1997, but when Marsh took over, he streamlined the business to focus on the forklifts and cut Plug Power's operating costs from $58 million per year to $16 million. The company's growing business sales since then have allowed it to project shipping enough forklifts next year to become profitable.
As more warehouses install the hydrogen-refueling stations to support fuel cell-powered forklifts, Plug Power expects new business opportunities. Marsh expects his company to target fuel cell-powered refrigerated trailers for industrial food distributors such as Sysco, as well as off-road vehicle fleets used by FedEx or UPS that can piggyback on the warehouse fueling stations.
"The key is that you don't wait for somebody to build out hydrogen infrastructure everywhere — think about how you can build it yourself," Marsh said. "Build a hydrogen fueling station that can operate like a gas station today."
Home and commercial use fuel cells to be sold in the UK from 2014
TOKYO --The venture company IE-CHP based in Scotland will start sales of household and commercial use fuel cells in the UK and Ireland from 2014. The company is a joint venture between the fuel cell developer Intelligent Energy, the UK energy major SSE (formerly Scottish and Southern Energy) and a Scottish government organization. It will progressively introduce a 1 kW unit for home use and a 10 kW unit for commercial use.
IE-CHP's Chief Operating Officer (COO) Julian Hughes stated, "Home use fuel cells currently have a very low profile. If the growing need to reduce rising energy costs is combined with government support policies, penetration will be adequately driven." Sales will begin in the UK and Ireland and it is anticipated that business will be developed on European mainland as well.
The cells that are the core component of the commercial use 10 kW units will be supplied by its parent company Intelligent Energy. The supplier for the cells for the home use 1 kW unit will be a company other Intelligent Energy, but the name of the company has not been announced yet.
Hydrogenics Awarded Swiss Hydrogen Fueling Station Equipment Order by Air Liquide
MISSISSAUGA, Ontario -- Hydrogenics Corporation, a leading developer and manufacturer of hydrogen generation and fuel cell products, today announced the award to deliver one HySTAT(TM)60 electrolyser, capable to produce 130kg a day of pure hydrogen. It will be part of a complete electrolysis-based fueling station awarded to Carbagas, a fully owned subsidiary of the Air Liquide group. The electrolyser is expected to be delivered to the city of Brugg in the canton of Aargau, Switzerland at the beginning of 2012.
The hydrogen fueling station, delivering green hydrogen at 350bar, will be based at the PostAuto bus garage in Brugg and will be used to operate five Citaro FuelCELL buses. PostAuto ( www.postauto.ch ) is the biggest public bus operator in Switzerland with over 2,000 vehicles in operation. This project is part of the CHIC initiative, a European demonstration project of fuel cell buses ( http://chic-project.eu ).
The Aargau bus project will reduce noise and improve air quality in the canton by reducing harmful emissions from public transport. This fueling station will deliver 100% green hydrogen, thanks to the use of green electricity generated by the local energy utility IBB (hydro-electric, solar, wind and biomass) further demonstrating that a complete carbon free chain using electrolysis has its place in the future energy mix for transport applications.
"We are pleased to have been awarded the key hydrogen generating equipment for Air Liquide's fueling station, further demonstrating Hydrogenics' capabilities to provide high quality equipment, engineering and services for the deployment of hydrogen fueling stations in Europe," said Daryl Wilson, Hydrogenics President and CEO.
Hydrogenics Corporation ( www.hydrogenics.com ) is a globally recognized developer and provider of hydrogen generation and fuel cell products and services, serving the growing industrial and clean energy markets of today and tomorrow. Based in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, Hydrogenics has operations in North America and Europe.
Investment in Fuel Cells for Auxiliary Power Unit Applications to Reach $400 Million by 2020, According to Pike Research
BOULDER, Colo. -- Although they represented 20% of all fuel cell systems shipped in 2010, fuel cells used as auxiliary power units (APUs) remain very limited commercially. In 2010 global fuel cell APU shipments totaled only a little over 3,100, almost all of them manufactured in Europe. Nevertheless, there is a developing market for the use of fuel cells as APUs across a range of markets. Originally used in the aviation industry, the term "auxiliary power unit" is used to describe a production unit that primarily provides power for the vehicle's hoteling loads -- i.e., any electrical power that is required by the vehicle for purposes other than the primary propulsion system, including such draws as heating and lighting. While the size of the market in terms of absolute numbers will not be large, reaching just over 5,000 units by 2020, the sector will grow strongly over the next several years. According to a new report from Pike Research, worldwide revenue from fuel cell APUs will reach $66 million annually in 2020, with a total cumulative investment of more than $400 million during the period from 2009 to 2020.
The four main market sectors for fuel cell APUs are marine, trucking, aviation, and recreational vehicles (RVs). All have the potential to use fuel cell technology initially in an APU function for vehicle hoteling loads but, in the future, fuel cell technology could also be used to assist the primary propulsion unit.
"The reason for the slow but steady growth in this market is that, unlike the other applications for which fuel cell technology is being developed, there are a number of non-trivial technological and regulatory barriers that need to be addressed for the marine and aviation sectors especially, and for trucking to a lesser degree," says research director Kerry-Ann Adamson. "For marine and aviation, although the drivers for the adoption of new practices or technologies are high, without further development, fuel cell technology cannot be rolled out in these sectors."
Indeed, the marine and aviation markets represent the areas where fuel cells, with their lower emissions and noise signatures, could have the largest impact. But both of these markets will require more substantial investment in R&D and technology development between now and 2020, before they are ready for widescale commercialization. Pike Research anticipates that the RV sector, already the largest market for fuel cell APUs, will continue its steady growth during the coming decade -- although profit margins per unit remain low and even the market leader, SFC Energy, is starting to increase its focus on non-RV markets.
Pike Research's report, "Fuel Cells for Auxiliary Power Unit Applications", analyzes the market potential for fuel cells to be utilized as APUs in marine, trucking, aviation, and RV markets. The study includes a comprehensive assessment of market drivers and barriers, technology issues, and key industry players in each of the four sectors. Forecasts are provided for each sector through 2020, including unit shipments, revenue, and total capacity in megawatts. 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.
ClearEdge Designs Fuel Cells To Replace Power From The Grid
Fuel cells have long promised to deliver a cleaner source of power, but they are far from commonplace. But government efforts in recent years to reduce emissions by subsidizing cleaner energy generation are boosting fuel cells’ acceptance and benefiting companies such as ClearEdge Power, which on Tuesday launched two new systems designed to make fuel cells a primary –rather than a supplemental or backup—source of electricity.
Fuel cells produce electricity through an electrochemical process and use fuels such as natural gas, liquid hydrogen or biofuels. Oregon-based ClearEdge is rolling out a 5-kilowatt system that is built to be wired to specific circuits in a home or business and supply power to specific equipment or parts of a building. It won’t be tied to the electric grid, however. ClearEdge can configure a fuel cell installation to include multiple 5-kilowatt systems, and the installation comes with a lead acid battery that stores 20-30 minutes of power that acts as a backup if the fuel cell system isn’t producing.
By not being connected to the grid, the fuel cell system won’t have to stop its work when there is a problem with the grid, such as a blackout. During a blackout, power generation systems that are connected to the grid, including solar panels, get turned off as a safety measure to allow utility workers to repair equipment without being electrocuted.
The company also is launching a second, 10-kilowatt system that it hopes will become the primary source of power at data centers, which usually rely on the electric grid as its primary source of electricity and on batteries as a backup to minimize power delivery interruption. ClearEdge designed the system to have an internal backup power supply. The unit will portion 5 kilowatts for running servers and a second 5 kilowatts for less critical functions such as lights. But the second 5-kilowatt portion will switch over to act as a backup power supply when the performance of the first 5-kilowatt dips, said Nicole Elovitz, director of marketing at ClearEdge. The system also comes with a battery that can provide one hour of power.
The core technology of this 10-kilowatt system is the software that monitors and manages the power production and use, Elovitz said. The software has to quickly detect any performance problems in one part of the system and redirect power from another part of the system to cover the shortfall.
Homes or businesses that use ClearEdge’s new fuel cell systems can still be connected to the electric grid, of course. But the company hope its designs will make the fuel cells an indispensable source of power. The two systems are improvements to the company’s previous and first product, which it started shipping in late 2009. ClearEdge’s fuel cells produce not only electricity but also heat, which can be used to produce hot water
“Our customers said they are interested in having a continuity of power, even in the event of a blackout,” Elovitz said.
ClearEdge, founded in 2003, raised $73.5 million earlier this year.
Marketing fuel cells as a reliable source of electricity sets the technology apart from other types of clean power such as solar and wind. Solar and wind are available only when the sun shines and the wind blows, so they aren’t able to provide electricity all day and night. As a result, they aren’t considered good replacements of conventional power sources that use coal, natural gas and nuclear. These three sources meet about 86 percent of the U.S.’s electricity needs.
Unlike solar and wind, however, fuel cells rely on fuels that yield more emissions. ClearEdge’s fuel cells run on natural gas, which is abundant cheap. Natural gas proponents have touted it as a more benign alternative to coal because it produces fewer emissions. Another argument that fuel cells are a more environmentally–friendly choice: fuel cells tend to produce power for onsite use, so they don’t need a transmission network.
But fuel cells, being new to the market, are expensive. Government incentives – from tax credit to rebates – have helped to make fuel cells attractive. The technology is eligible for a 30 percent federal investment tax credit or a cash payment alternative that was born out of the 2009 stimulus package and is set to end at the end of next month.
California has become a key market because it runs a program that has doled out generous incentives to offset the cost of installing a fuel cell system. In fact, fuel cell maker Bloom Energy and its customers have been big beneficiaries of this Self Generation Incentive Program. The program issued 206 reservations that added up to $322.7 million in 2010, and they included 96 reservations totaling $208.1 million that went to Bloom’s installations, said Terrie Prosper, a spokeswoman for the California Public Utilities Commission. Reservations are issued after applicants have filled out paperwork and complied with other criteria and before they complete the projects to claim the money.
Bloom’s customers include AT&T, Google, eBay and Kaiser Permanente. Bloom, whose fuel cells are larger at 100 kilowatts each, installed a 400-kilowatt system at Google’s headquarters in Silicon Valley, but Google has said it doesn’t use it to run its data center there.
The commission spent a big part of this year to modify the program to comply with a new legislation, and in the process it also lowered the incentive levels for fuel cell projects and capped the amount each project can get at $5 million.
ClearEdge has priced its new 5-kilowatt system at $56,000 and the second new product, the 10-kilowatt system, at $130,000. The prices don’t include installation costs or take into account any government incentives.
“The cost of power in California is much higher but the incentives are good. In Oregon, we have hydropower, which is very inexpensive, so it’s difficult to make a straight story” about the value of installing fuel cells, Elovitz said. “But when you start to offer critical power, then you start to transcend where you are.”
More Companies Bypassing Electric Grid Inefficiencies With Fuel Cells
On October 29, a freak early-season snowstorm hit eastern New York and western and parts of central New England, blanketing some areas in as much as two feet of highly unusual pre-Halloween snow. The wet snow coated power lines and trees, many of which still retained their summer foliage, snapping branches and breaking mature trees in half under the weight. The result was a widespread power outage that left many communities – 100 percent of some towns and majorities of entire counties – in the dark. While a power outage in the same area in late summer caused by the remnants of Hurricane Irene left many of the same communities in the dark for several days, this pre-winter power outage proved to be something different.
Not only were two million northeast residents left in the dark, but businesses as well: the gas stations, supermarkets and Big Box stores we’re all used to relying on for power outage supplies. Several Home Depot stores were allowing shoppers to find and purchase goods on the shelves only thanks to the help of emergency back-up power. Schools canceled classes indefinitely, and health care facilities had to evacuate patients. Many municipalities issued “boil water” alerts to town residents, concerned that as they ran out of even generator-supplied power at water treatment facilities, water was entering the public supply without being sufficiently treated to kill microbes. Even emergency shelters, where many residents were forced to go due to freezing temperatures, were running on generators. One Connecticut town, Simsbury, found the outages and the damage so extensive and the response of the local utility – Connecticut Light & Power – so inadequate the town eventually had to deploy the National Guard to begin clearing trees so trapped residents could get out of their homes and emergency vehicles could be dispatched to blocked-in neighborhoods. Simsbury was without electricity for 13 days after the storm.
Several things occurred when the storm and its immediate aftermath was over. For starters, local residents had lots of new firewood for their woodpiles. Secondly, state officials in Connecticut and Massachusetts put together post-storm investigation committees to find out what went wrong and where, all amid accusations that utility executives blatantly lied to local government officials. Third, the head and career of the CEO of Connecticut Light & Power, Jeffrey Butler, ended up on a spike (figurative speaking), a token sacrificial lamb for a utility that, like many others, seems incapable of marshaling the kind of resources required to pick up the pieces after devastating storms.
While the storm may have been unusual, it was not unique. Storms in U.S. southeast in mid-November not only spawned damaging tornadoes but knocked out electricity for many customers in South Carolina and Georgia. In February 2010, a pair of snowstorms days apart knocked out power to more than 200,000 people in the Baltimore-Washington corridor for several days. In late January of 2009, ice storms across Kentucky and Southern Indiana left nearly 800,000 people without power, some of them for more than two weeks.
While the average homeowner may shiver a bit, regret the loss of the contents of his or her refrigerator and grumble about the mess in the yard, the implications are far more serious for businesses, which can lose millions of dollars in the course of just a week. A report conducted in 2004 by the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory estimated that power interruptions in the U.S. result in $80 billion of loss each year. As the national electric grid ages and upgrades to it remain patchy and politically volatile, chances are, these losses will only increase.
While alternate energy sources – particularly the clean ones – are something nice to be able to stick onto the “corporate responsibility” pages on a Web site, they very well may start to become something more than that. While most businesses retain some kind of generator to prevent catastrophic loss in the form of lost sales or spoiled refrigerated goods during power outages, many companies are taking extra steps beyond smelly, noisy and somewhat cranky gas generators. (During the late October northeast storm, many businesses could no longer use their generators when they ran out of gas, since the gas stations themselves had no power and the pumps didn’t work.) As a result, an increasing number of businesses are sinking money into fuel cell technology to help save electricity and costs when it’s on, and save the business when it’s off.
A new report by Fuel Cells 2000, a project of the Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization Breakthrough Technologies Institute (BTI), notes that businesses are investing in fuel-cell technology at an unprecedented rate. The report, called “The Business Case for Fuel Cells 2011: Energizing America’s Top Companies,” profiles 34 large companies that have recently embarked on fuel cell projects or broadened their existing investments in fuel cell technologies for both their internal operations and their retail storefronts.
“Fuel cells are steadily becoming a go-to technology for businesses interested in increasing both their economic and environmental bottom lines,” notes the report. Not to mention companies that have experience repeated losses from long-term power outages or rolling black-outs.
A spike in interest in commercial fuel cell technologies is a particular boon for the U.S., notes the report. While the solar panel industry may have been lost to China for good now, the U.S. is still uniquely positioned to benefit from the rise in interest in commercial fuel cells. In a report released last year, Fuel Cells 2000 estimated that there are more than 630 active companies and laboratories in 47 U.S. states involved in the fuel cell and related fuels industry, investing an estimated $1 billion a year. The total supply chain for commercial fuel cells involve thousands of American companies, says the group. The top five states for fuel cell-friendly policies and activism are, in order, California, Connecticut, New York, Ohio and South Carolina.
Interestingly, Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts – all three hard hit by both Hurricane Irene in late August and the pre-Halloween nor’easter – are among the leader states when it comes to fostering fuel cell development: all three states offer generous state grant programs and tax rebates, as well as energy policies that embrace fuel cell technology. All three states are also home to several major fuel cell manufacturers.
“In addition to being a leader in the private sector use of fuel cells in the distributed power marketplace and the forklift market, the United States is also home to the world’s leading fuel cell and component manufacturers,” according to the report. “Forty-five Fortune 500 companies are involved in the fuel cell industry in some capacity, either through deployment, demonstration or development.” Aside from the manufacture of the fuel cells themselves, many American companies create components for commercial fuel cells.
The U.S. cannot afford to rest on its commercial fuel cell laurels, however. Germany, South Korea and Japan are chasing the commercial fuel cell marketplace hard and all three would be happy to lure fuel cell manufacturers to their own shores, much the way China has lured American solar panel companies away from U.S. soil.
No longer an experimental or mere conversation-starter technology, fuel cells are being used in some of the most prominent U.S. manufacturing, service sector and retail companies…including a few you would never expect. Here’s a taste of who us using fuel cell technology, and for what.
Bank of America
While Bank of America is on few people’s list of favorite companies lately – the company’s disastrous announcement of new checking fees put the company on the top of the Occupy Wall Street movements’ hit list and generated outrage among customers all over the country, who collectively vowed to dump the bank – a little credit has to be given where credit is due: in the company’s use of cleaner fuel cell technology.
The company recently installed five Bloom Energy Servers at a call center facility in Southern California – replacing a series of diesel generators – to clean up the company’s carbon footprint and boost its own “energy security” by reducing its reliance on the grid, as well as allowing the facility to continue operating in the event of power loss.
Coca-Cola, which is attempting to stick to a corporate sustainability goal of holding its manufacturing emissions flat at 2004 levels through 2015, has begun using commercial fuel cell technology on a number of fronts. The company has deployed UTC (United Technologies) fuel cells at several bottling facilities to provide nearly 100 percent of power and about 50 percent of heat (resulting from the re-capture of waste heat from the fuel cell process).
In addition, Coca-Cola’s Charlotte, North Carolina production center operates a fleet of 40 PlugPower fuel-cell powered lift vehicles, while its San Leandro, California bottling facility operates 37 hydrogen fuel-cell powered trucks.
Time Warner Cable
In its first foray into fuel cell technology, Time Warner recently installed an Altergy Freedom Power backup fuel cell system at a facility in Palm Springs, California. The plan is to be able to continue to supply service subscribers – particularly critical Internet phone service to make sure customers don’t lose the ability to call 911 in a power outage – during storm events that involve power outages. The new fuel cell is replacing an existing back-up system of dirty diesel generators and liquid fuel.
While few people have ever accused the world’s largest retailer of slavishly following an agenda of corporate social responsibility or sustainability, it might be time to give Wal-Mart a little credit.
Wal-Mart began its foray into commercial fuel cell technology with the 2009 purchase of two Bloom Energy Servers for two California retail locations. Based on that successful experiment, Wal-Mart has invested in an additional 17 “Bloom Boxes” for retail locations. The company also operates a Canadian distribution center whose forklifts – all 71 of them – are powered by fuel cells.
The natural food supermarket chain currently uses UTC Power PureCell Model 400 fuel cells to supply, in some cases, as much as 90 percent of
The UTC PureCell commercial fuel cell technology provides both cleaner energy and waste heat recapture.
many stores’ power. One single store, the recently constructed retail site in Fairfield, Connecticut draws almost all of its needed energy from the fuel cell, preventing the release of about 847 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year.
The company – which has reportedly talked to Bloom Energy about the purchase of Bloom Boxes for retail stores – also captures and reuses the waste heat from the fuel cell process, increasing the fuel cells’ efficiency to 60 percent, which is nearly twice as efficient as energy from the standard electric grid. The company also uses 61 fuel cell-powered fork lifts at its Landover, Maryland distribution center.
In addition to providing energy independence from what seems like an increasingly erratic and unreliable national and regional electric grid, the use of fuel cell technologies can help companies meet sustainability goals and just save energy costs in the long-run.
It’s also pretty good for public relations.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Irene in late August, a Whole Food retail location in Glastonbury, Connecticut was one of the only establishment in town with power, thanks to its UTC Power fuel cell, which provides about half of the store’s energy needs. The store was able to retain most of its refrigerated and frozen product, minimizing its product losses (and earning the undying gratitude of its insurance company, no doubt).
During recent power outages in San Diego, one of the only companies open for business was an Albertsons supermarket, thanks to the store’s fuel cell. The chain credits this for building local customer loyalty.
“When you drive down the neighborhood and the only thing lit is Albertsons, it attracts people…We had a very busy day,” said Rick Crandall, the Southern California Director of Sustainability for SuperValu, the grocery retailer that owns Albertsons.
As the nation’s electric grid ages and becomes increasingly more unstable in its ability to serve rising American power demand – while simultaneously being battered by more frequent and more intense storms thanks to a warming climate – many companies, municipalities, retailers and service providers will be forced to seek more efficient and cost-saving back-up energy system to both stabilize their energy sources and reduce the damage from interruptions in grid power. Examples set by the early trend-setters such as Whole Foods and Wal-Mart will likely inspire more companies to seek refuge in commercial fuel cell technologies.
Here’s to hoping the U.S. stays well placed to serve this rising demand.
Tokyo 2011: Toyota FCV-R Concept Previews Production Fuel Cell Car
The brand new FCV-R concept bowed at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show earlier today. It’s supposed to be a practical sedan-type next-generation fuel-cell concept vehicle. The vehicle combines the next generation of hydrogen-powered tech with looks that come from the Prius family.
Toyota plans to actually bring a production version of the car to the mass market by 2015, so we have to take the tear-dropped sedan very seriously. They say that the 70 MPa fuel tank hold enough hydrogen for a 700 km (435 miles).
But the concept is also interesting for its bold design lines that are also supposed to be aerodynamically. Inside, the FCV-R offers a digital instrument cluster, a massive infotainment system that looks like an iPad and a large bevel underneath that looks the tiny tables you get with your airplane seat.