A U.S. energy company has created a special group to develop its fuel cell applications. The group will also work with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to focus on applications of solar cells and photovoltaics.
CODY, Wyoming – Altair International Inc. says its subsidiary, Altair Technologies Inc., has created the Alternative Energy Group to develop fuel conversion units for fuel cell power applications. The company has also signed an agreement with MIT to sponsor and carry on joint research to develop a nanostructured fuel cell system for direct hydrocarbon conversion, and will focus on nanoparticle applications in solar photovoltaic (PV) cells and batteries. Officials say their technology has applications in many alternative energy markets. “Altair’s objective is not to develop a new fuel cell design,” explains Bruce Sabacky, who will head the group. “Altair’s goal is to produce and supply superior performing fuel cell components that address and overcome current technical shortcomings in today’s fuel cell designs. We believe that coupling Altair’s nanomaterial technology with MIT’s expertise in catalysts gives a high probability for success.” The company strategy is to become the preeminent supplier of the key component in a fuel cell power supply unit, and Sabacky says Altair is not alone in the belief that this strategy holds the best economic opportunity. He quotes investor documents that predict that fuel cells and other forms of distributed power generation and distributed energy services will have the same market opportunities as the telecommunications market during its deregulation. The advantages to fuel cells for power production include low noise, efficiency and small size, and the ability to be used in remote locations. Some of the unsolved technical issues include expensive and fragile materials, uncertain long-term durability, manufacturing efficiencies, fuel processing, and control of chemical reactions at the cell electrodes, he explains. Altair owns a proprietary technology for making nanocrystalline materials of unique quality, economically in large quantities. The company is currently developing special nanomaterials with potential applications in fuel cells, hard coatings, catalysts, cosmetics, paints, batteries, semi-conductors and telecommunications. The technology may also be used to make paint pigment at a cost forecast to be substantially lower than commercial technologies employed today.