News from the Fuel Cell Sector

A number of recent developments on fuel cells have been reported:

Various cities, 2001-08-13 [] A number of recent developments on fuel cells have been reported: A fuel cell company has shipped a 250 kW power plant to provide electricity at the headquarters of the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power. FuelCell Energy, Inc. shipped the ‘Direct FuelCell'(R) to LADWP to provide power to the building and serve as an example of the environmental advantages and distributed generation capabilities of its fuel cells. “LADWP and FuelCell Energy will gain operating data and on-site experience from this first-of-a-kind unit,” says FuelCEll CEO Jerry Leitman. “This project, and others in the pipeline, will contribute to the commercial launch of our products later this year.” “LADWP is taking a leadership role in pursuing new technologies such as fuel cells which are environmentally friendly,” says the utility’s Moe Chaudhry. “This project demonstrates our commitment to the technology and to FuelCell Energy.” The company currently has a field trial backlog of 10 MW, including two additional 250kW power plants for LADWP. The units run on natural gas, but the lack of combustion reduces the pollution from fossil fuels. High efficiency levels lead to more electricity from less fuel and lower carbon dioxide emissions. — A contract has been signed for ten remote fuel cell power systems to be used in Texas. Tje DCH/Enable(TM) fuel cell systems will be used by the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission to provide electricity on demand to air and water quality sampling equipment, as well as communications equipment providing real-time data feedback. DCH Technology, Inc. will provide the 15 watt, 12 volt systems, which are a next-generation design of the company’s 12 watt Enable(TM) portable fuel cell that TNRCC has used to power air and water quality monitors currently in use. The new design provides a patent-pending internal fuel supply technology that improves PEM (hydrogen-based proton exchange membrane) fuel cell reliability, which is critical to unattended applications such as remote field power. “This contract represents an important step forward for the TNRCC in its role of bringing clean energy solutions to the State of Texas,” says spokesperson Steve Spaw. “Both our portable DCH/Enable 12 watt fuel cell and mobile 3 kW fuel cell system have performed to expectations.” Weighing only two pounds, the new DCH/Enable system will power both the sampling and communications equipment for three weeks, depending on load, using a 900-liter hydride fuel supply. — A U.S. company says it has developed and tested an ultra-light 3 kilowatt fuel cell system. Manhattan Scientifics, Inc. says its German-based NovArs unit based the hydrogen-fueled system on the basic design of its fuel cell system that currently is being tested by Electrolux, Aprilia S.p.A. and the U.S. Army. The output of that unit is 670 watts. The new, higher-powered unit is capable of providing emergency power for essential elements in a typical American home. Because of its lightweight and compact size, the proprietary system is highly portable, which makes it ideal for small vehicles such as electric scooters and golf carts, as well as emergency home generators, recreational vehicles and uses such as camping. Versions of this configuration can be scaled down from 3,000 to 1,000 watts to fit a wide range of market needs. The fuel cell uses advanced composite materials to minimize size and weight. The total system, including fans, valves, electronics, cables and tubes, weighs 5.9 kilograms. With all peripherals, not including the hydrogen source, the unit measures 340 mm x 246 mm x 158 mm. “The market opportunities for NovArs have now broadened significantly,” says company COO Jack Harrod. “The largest market for fuel cells in this power range are small two-wheeled vehicles such as scooters. Worldwide, more than ten million such vehicles are estimated to be produced each year.” The market of fuel cells for vehicles could reduce air pollution caused by two-stroke engines, particularly in Asian cities. The company says it is in discussions with several potential business partners and large industrial manufacturers to evaluate various business models for commercializing this technology. — A Canadian company has started testing its 10 kilowatt prototype stationary fuel cell power generator. Ballard Generation Systems, a subsidiary of Ballard Power Systems, has built and commenced in-house testing of the unit that is fueled by natural gas. The 10 kW system is designed for backup, light industrial and standby applications for telecom. “We feel there is significant market potential for standby fuel cell powered products in this size range,” says president Jim Kirsch. “The completion of this engineering prototype is the first major milestone on the road to commercialization of this product family.” The unit will undergo extensive testing for the remainder of 2001, leading to the development of the next generation of the product. Ballard manufactures and markets proton exchange membrane fuel cells for use in transportation, electricity generation and portable power products. It is partnering with companies such as DaimlerChrysler, Ford, GPU, ALSTOM and EBARA, to commercialize its fuel cells. It has supplied fuel cells to Honda, Nissan, Volkswagen, Yamaha, Cinergy, Coleman Powermate, Matsushita and others.