Briefly Noted … Fuel Cells

– Time Magazine has named a prototype bicycle powered by a fuel cell as an Invention of the Year, and one that could “ignite” sales of electric bikes. The prototype, from Italian bike maker Aprilia, stores compressed hydrogen in a 2 litre canister housed in the frame. It has a top speed of 20 mph, weighs 20% less than regular electric bicycles and travels 50 miles before recharging. The bike will be available in 2003 for US$2,300. There are 100 million motorized two-wheel vehicles around the world. – Millennium Cell of New Jersey has expanded its lab space, including a new facility to validate processes for the manufacture of sodium borohydride (a derivate of borax) and the foundation for its proprietary Hydrogen on Demand(tm) process that can be used to power fuel cells and internal combustion engines, as well as enabling alternative energy applications. – A green energy technology company that planned to list on the stock market this year, has gone into receivership. Zetek Power specialized in rechargeable hydrogen fuel cells after starting as a R&D company during the European space program in the 1970s. A US$70 million package to fund plants in Cologne and Tennessee was abandoned when investment turned down following the terrorist attacks in September. – Caterpillar will distribute fuel cell products from FuelCell Energy for industrial and commercial use. Both companies will pursue an alliance to jointly develop fuel cell systems, including hybrid products that integrate Caterpillar’s turbine engine technology. – Proton Energy Systems says it has completed construction and started testing of its first full-scale, high pressure, prototype compact hydrogen generator. This unit multi-cell hydrogen generator system creates pressure without a mechanical compressor, and officials claim electrochemical compression of hydrogen using this technique is simpler, quieter, more efficient and provides cleaner hydrogen at a lower cost than conventional mechanical compression. The company manufactures PEM fuel cells.