Former FIAT Design Chief joins Riversimple

Christopher Reitz, the top European car designer who headed the design team at Fiat – where he was responsible for the Fiat 500 – and then Alfa Romeo, has joined Riversimple, the UK based company which is developing a hydrogen fuel cell car.  It is one of the most high-profile moves away from the traditional automotive industry to sustainable transport and Reitz said: “This really is a step into something different, to design cars that really are the future. Increasingly I have felt that it does not make much sense to move tons of steel around, using a lot of fuel and resources. There has to be a better way and I think Riversimple has found it, not only with its hydrogen fuel cell car but with the whole concept of the company which has as its goal complete sustainability.”

Reitz’s first job will be to design the cars that will be seen on the streets of Leicester, when pilot schemes get underway in the summer of 2012. In a ground-breaking deal with Leicester City Council, 30 cars will be driven around Leicester for a year, with drivers providing feedback on their experience.   Reitz, aged 42, said: “It has to look good as well as be functional. We don’t want to shock because if you shock you are very quickly old and out of fashion. We need to be robust, innovative and safe and getting the right mixture will help produce a successful product. It is very exciting.’ Hugo Spowers, the Riversimple founder, said: “I am delighted that someone of Chris’ calibre and standing in the automotive world has decided to join Riversimple and help us to produce sustainable cars that will be the envy of others. Chris has been responsible for some of the most beautiful and practical designs in the auto industry in recent years. His experience and flair will be of great help to us as we move towards seeing Riversimple cars on the streets and roads of the UK.”


FuelCell Energy, Inc. has announced the sale of a 300 kilowatt DFC300 (DFC) fuel cell to the Crown Estate for installation at the Quadrant 3 re-development project on London’s Regent Street. The fuel cell will help the project meet clean air emission requirements and carbon reduction targets.   The Quadrant 3 project is a 250,000 square foot mixed use retail/office/residential redevelopment project being developed by The Crown Estate with assistance from the Stanhope Estate.  The redevelopment project will maintain the historical character of the area while incorporating modern technology and sustainable environmental practices.    “Our long term outlook means that sustainability is a critically important part of our approach to business,” said Alastair Smart, Head of Development, The Crown Estate.  “Reliable on-site power generation delivered in an environmentally friendly manner is an important aspect of our development projects and the fuel cell fits our requirements at Quadrant 3.” The plant is expected to be operational later this year.

Efficient, non-polluting, quiet operation inside building

The fuel cell will be physically located inside the building as the quiet operation and virtual lack of pollutants from fuel cells is well-suited for such urban applications. The power generation process of the fuel cell uses an electrochemical reaction rather than combustion, which very efficiently converts fuel into clean electricity.  The DFC power plant generates clean electricity and high quality heat. Fuel cells can achieve up to 90% efficiency when the heat is utilized in a combined heat and power (CHP) configuration. The heat for this fuel cell installation will be used for facility heating and cooling, resulting in maximum fuel efficiency and cost savings for the client. The fuel cell project designer and installer, Logan Energy Limited, estimates the overall efficiency of this DFC installation at 82%.

Due to the lack of combustion, the fuel cell emits virtually no pollutants, such as NOx, SOx or particulate matter. This electrochemical power generation process is quiet, allowing for a normal conversational tone next to an operating fuel cell. “We were attracted by the various attributes of the fuel cell including the steady power output combined with ultra-clean, efficient and quiet power generation,” said Paul Hargreaves, Development Director, Stanhope Plc, which is overseeing the development for The Crown Estate. “The high quality heat produced by the fuel cell will be used for heating and cooling the buildings, improving the economics of this power plant as both electricity and heat are produced.”

“Fuel cells emit virtually no pollutants, an important attribute for an urban location,” said Chip Bottone, President and Chief Executive Officer, FuelCell Energy, Inc. “This order by The Crown Estate demonstrates the value of ultra-clean and reliable fuel cell power to support sustainability goals. Recent clean energy proposals announced by the British and other European governments make the European markets attractive for fuel cells.”   The Crown Estate is a successful business organization guided by its core values – commercialism, integrity and stewardship.  It manages a diverse property portfolio which includes office, retail and industrial premises; housing; farmland; forestry and minerals; parkland; and around half the foreshore and almost all the seabed around the UK.


ITM Power has announced an early result from the initial phase of their high power density fuel cell membrane testing, which is supported by a grant from the Carbon Trust.   They have demonstrated exceptionally high power densities with their proprietary hydrocarbon membrane materials for hydrogen/oxygen fuel cells. A step change from the current state of the art has been achieved, with what is believed to be the highest power density ever recorded for a PEM fuel cell (5.5W/cm2 and 10A/cm2) using pure oxygen.

While the Company’s initial investigations focused on hydrogen and oxygen fed fuel cells, a commercial fuel cell system for deployment in a vehicle requires air to be used as the oxidant. ITM has now successfully demonstrated the performance of the membrane in a hydrogen/air fuel cell developing over 2.1W/cm2 and 4A/cm2, more than doubling the power density performance presently available on the market. This early result with air exceeds the ambitious target of 1.5W/cm2 as defined as part of the Carbon Trust project and is further evidence of the potential for ITM Power’s materials to offer a step change in performance.

Commenting for ITM Power, CEO Graham Cooley said: “I am very pleased with the rate of technical progress. Exceeding our power density target for the fuel cell during the initial phase of the Carbon Trust project shows the huge potential of our materials and the enthusiasm with which we are attacking this development.  I look forward to reporting further progress on completion of the project.”    Pierre Gaudillat, Technology Commercialization Manager, the Carbon Trust added: “We are delighted with how the fuel cell project with ITM is progressing. It is clear that ITM’s technology has a great deal to offer and we continue to facilitate introductions to potential commercial end users interested in these exciting developments.” The summary of the power density performance achieved by ITM’s patented membrane technology has been updated on the company’s website

7th Annual International Conference and Exhibition, Generating the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Society

Wednesday 30 March NEC, Birmingham 09.00-17.00

The 7th Annual International Conference and Exhibition on Hydrogen and Fuel Cells at the NEC, Birmingham on 30th March will address both national and international perspectives, as well as the latest technological developments in the following areas: hydrogen production, storage and distribution, fuel cells for heat and power and transport applications.

Fuel cells to meet consumer requirements

A presentation from the University of Birmingham will give the latest news about the UK’s first hydrogen vehicle fleet and Element Energy will outline progress with hydrogen fuel cell fleets in Europe.  Smart transport possibilities, including hydrogen, will be considered in a presentation by the Airmax Group.   A presentation by SFC, Germany, will outline fuel cells attractive to consumers in Europe and the USA and a speaker from Yamanashi University in Japan will discuss the latest fuel cell developments.  The role of PEM fuel cells for micro CHP will be considered in a presentation from Amec and the latest developments will be discussed by Johnson Matthey.  The opportunities for a decarbonised UK grid operating fuel cells will be proposed by a speaker from E.ON and applications for fuel cells in a low carbon energy system will be examined in a presentation from Imperial College.

Low carbon energy

The different sources of hydrogen, from biomass and renewable electricity, to fossil fuels with carbon capture, will be examined.  The costs and impacts of renewable hydrogen will be outlined by a speaker from UNIZAR, Spain. The developing hydrogen infrastructure in the UK and USA will be covered in presentations from ETI and Air Products.  There will also be a presentation from AMI in the USA about solid oxide fuel cells powered by propane.

Partnering events

The Head of the European Joint Technology Initiative (JTI) for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells will discuss co-operation and the potential for involvement in future projects.  A partnering event has been designed to complement the conference, enabling industrial and research organisations at the conference to benefit from a series of pre-arranged meetings with potential collaborators from across the continent and beyond. It is envisaged that the conference and brokerage event will facilitate greater technical and commercial cooperation, as well as partnerships for the EU 7th Framework Programme and the JTI. A workshop on the UK Industry Grouping will be led by the UK Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association. This is an exceptional opportunity for participants to have access to an international conference with leading edge organisations from across the world.   Hydrogen and fuel cells are increasingly perceived as important components in a low carbon economy due to their high efficiencies, zero emissions and easy conversions.  The East and West Midlands regions of the UK are strong players in the emerging hydrogen and fuel cells sector.


The Department of Infrastructure of the Isle of Man Government has signed an agreement to participate in the HOST trials.  The Department of Infrastructure is responsible for maintaining and developing much of the Isle of Man’s key infrastructure, including the highways network, harbour and port facilities, planning and building control and the Island’s key Government buildings including the Sea Terminal, Airport, Energy from Waste Plant and Animal Waste Processing Plant. Through its Operations Division, the Department provides a direct labour organisation which carries out essential works to the infrastructure and also maintains a 24 hour a day emergency response capability for the Island.  Commenting for ITM Power, CEO Graham Cooley said: “We are thrilled that the Isle of Man Government’s Department of Infrastructure will be joining our HOST trials. This is an exceptional opportunity to test our energy storage and clean fuel technology proposition for vehicle fleets operating in an island environment. Islands by their nature rely on imported fuel; our hydrogen trials will demonstrate how an island can produce its own clean fuel, offering a sustainable transport solution for the vital infrastructure logistics fleet.”  Keith Lowney, Fleet Transport Manager for the Department of Infrastructure on the Isle of Man, added: “We welcome the opportunity to trial ITM’s hydrogen refueling station for ‘return to base’ operated vehicles. This is particularly appropriate given the geography of the island – 32 miles long by 10miles at its widest – as this will be relevant to most of our infrastructure fleet. Of particular interest will be how as an Island we can generate our own clean fuel from our ample sources of renewable energy.”


BlueGen Units for the UK

Three BlueGen gas-to-electricity generators have been sold to one of the UK’s leading energy companies, E.ON.   One BlueGen will be installed in early 2011 at the E.ON training centre in Tipton, West Midlands, where E.ON’s Property Services department trains its staff in the installation and maintenance of gas and electrical appliances. The other two BlueGen units will be installed at demonstration sites.

Due to its high electricity to heat ratio, each BlueGen unit can produce three times the electricity needed to power an average UK home, as well as enough heat to satisfy its needs for hot water.  Ceramic Fuel Cells is continuing to make progress towards having BlueGen certified under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme, in order to access the UK Government’s feed in tariff.   This pays 10 pence for every kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity generated by small scale co-generation products, plus an additional 3 pence for every kWh of electricity sold back to the local power grid.

In parallel with installing three BlueGen units, Ceramic Fuel Cells and E.ON are continuing to develop fully integrated power and heating products for the UK market. In this project, integrated units are being installed with appliance company Gledhill and in a test house with EA Technology. Under a product development agreement, Ceramic Fuel Cells and E.ON have agreed the development stages to move into production of commercial units and they are currently discussing the details for the next phase of product development and deployment.

200 fuel cell mCHP units

Ceramic Fuel Cells Ltd has received a conditional order for up to 200 integrated power and heat generators from German energy service provider EWE, which will generate revenue of up to 4.9 million Euros over two years.   The integrated units use Ceramic Fuel Cells’ patented technology to convert natural gas into electricity and heat, with the world’s highest level of electrical efficiency. EWE will install the units in homes in the Lower Saxony region in northern Germany in order to provide the homes with low emission electricity, hot water and heating. The order is conditional on EWE receiving partial funding under the German government’s national hydrogen and fuel cell technology innovation program. This program is providing 700 million Euros between 2008 and 2018 and a decision is expected in early 2011.   Subject to EWE obtaining the Government funding and to the units meeting agreed performance targets, EWE will order 70 units for delivery in 2011 and 130 units for delivery in 2012.

“This is a significant follow-on order from EWE, and it will see us selling many more of the integrated products we have developed with EWE and our local partner Bruns,” said Brendan Dow. “We are confident that the German government will support the project and we look forward to continuing to deploy products with EWE, our longest-standing customer and partner. We are also encouraged by the very strong interest in our low emission products in Germany.”   Ceramic Fuel Cells will supply the core Gennex fuel cell module and related components and, together with their local manufacturing partner, Gebrüder Bruns Heiztechnik GmbH, they will integrate the fuel cell module with a boiler into a power and heating product for supply to EWE.

Developing the market

Ceramic Fuel Cells has signed an agreement with Adelaide-based Hills Holdings Limited for Hills to sell and service Ceramic Fuel Cells’ BlueGen gas-to-electricity units, initially in South Australia. Hills will also provide installation and after-sales service for BlueGen products Australia-wide and will help Ceramic Fuel Cells to develop the market for BlueGen.  Hills has a wide range of businesses in three major categories: home, hardware and eco products; electronic security and entertainment; and building and industrial products.  “We are delighted to have signed this agreement with Hills, an iconic Australian company in the home hardware and eco products market,” said Brendan Dow. “Hills designs, develops and makes its own appliances and solar products, so there are also longer term strategic opportunities for us to collaborate on the BlueGen manufacturing and supply-chain side. This agreement represents a further validation of our BlueGen product and what it can achieve in the energy market.”

The agreement is in line with Ceramic Fuel Cells’ strategy to sell BlueGen units in Australia through distributors and to outsource the installation and service of BlueGen units. The agreement with Hills follows similar BlueGen distribution agreements with green products retailer Neco, based in Melbourne, and Harvey Norman’s Commercial Division, in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. The Australian market for BlueGen is estimated to be several hundred thousand units – the number of households connected to natural gas is more than three million.


A state-of-the-art demonstration and research facility powered by hydrogen fuel cell technology was officially opened by First Minister Alex Salmond as he visited the £4.7 million facility in Methil, Fife.  The facility, known as the Hydrogen Office, houses a hydrogen production system that captures surplus energy from a wind turbine, stores it as hydrogen and then uses a high efficiency fuel cell to generate electricity from the stored energy when required. The system was developed by the Pure Energy Centre in Unst, Shetland Islands.  With a renewables resource unparalleled in Europe, the technology is recognised to have significant potential to further leverage Scotland’s renewable energy reserves.

First Minister Alex Salmond opened the Hydrogen Office with Derek Mitchell, Project Manager, Adrian Gillespie of Scottish Enterprise and Dr Daniel Aklil of the Pure energy Centre (left to right)  Alex Salmond said: “This is a hugely exciting development for Fife and for Scotland’s low carbon industries as we work together to forge the new green economy.  The Hydrogen Office is playing a leading role in the development of a range of carbon-cutting technologies – from the provision of clean energy for electricity, heat and transport to storing renewable power from other sources such as wind, as demonstrated at the site.” About a third of Scotland’s electricity is already generated by renewables and, last autumn, the First Minister raised the national renewable energy target for 2020  to 80% of gross electricity consumed.

Derek Mitchell, Project Manager of the Hydrogen Office added : “The opening of the Hydrogen Office project by the First Minister marks the completion of the first phase of this exciting project.  Scotland has the potential to produce far more renewable energy than it currently generates for all its electrical needs; yet because we can’t control when we generate energy from some renewable sources this huge potential is still limited. There is no need for such a limit and this breakthrough charts the future to realising Scotland’s full potential.   Storing wind energy as hydrogen; which we can do in large quantities and for long periods, means we can then use this energy for virtually anything, including in our cars, our cooking, our homes and offices. We can do this without generating any pollution or carbon dioxide and we can use this energy regardless of whether the wind is blowing.” Scottish Enterprise chief executive Lena Wilson said that this highly innovative, low carbon energy facility offers high spec, energy efficient office space to encourage the development of renewable technologies.  It will serve as an international demonstration centre for renewable and hydrogen energy technology, capturing a share of the £3 trillion global low carbon market.”

Since commissioning last September, the 750kW turbine has exported over 350,000kilowatt hours (kWh) to the National Grid and over the course of a year, it will not only generate sufficient electricity and hydrogen for the heating and lighting requirements of the Hydrogen Office, but is also expected to export sufficient electricity to meet the annual energy demands of the Methil Docks Business Park.   The Hydrogen Office is part of  the Energy Park, a 134-acre site strategically located close to the new offshore wind farm leasing sites in the North Sea.   Fife’s flagship Energy Park, is expected to become one of Europe’s leading locations for innovation and development of renewable technology.

Up to 10 times Scotland’s electricity requirements

This world-leading energy solution will help reduce the impact of climate change and support the Government’s ambitious renewable energy targets, which could see Scotland producing up to 10 times its own electricity requirements in a generation.  Scotland has a competitive advantage in renewable power sources and the development and deployment of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies across the energy sector can help accelerate the achievement of a truly low carbon economy – supporting skilled jobs in Scotland and helping protect the planet for generations to come.”

The Hydrogen Office is a partnership project involving Scottish Enterprise, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Alsherra Investments Ltd, Fife Council, the Scottish Government and the Energy Saving Trust.