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  www.itm-power.com www.carbontrust.co.uk


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.   http://www.cfcl.com.au


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.  http://www.hydrogenoffice.com/



Buy only the electricity with Bloom Electrons service

Bloom Energy® has announced a new service, Bloom Electrons℠, which enables customers to purchase electricity provided by the Bloom Box without incurring any other costs.   Customers can lock in their electricity rates for 10 years, delivering fixed predictable costs and significant savings versus the grid. Bloom manages and maintains the breakthrough solid oxide fuel cell systems on the customers’ sites and the customers pay only for the electricity consumed. This allows immediate cost savings with no initial investment, making onsite clean, reliable, affordable energy more accessible. The Bloom Electrons Service has generated tremendous customer interest, with more than 20MWs of power (200 systems) already secured to provide electricity to new and repeat customers.

Under the Bloom Electrons service, customers can immediately save up to 20% on their energy bills. In today’s economy, it is very appealing for companies to have freedom of choice, to either purchase the Bloom Box or utilize the Bloom Electrons service, while achieving savings under either program.  Coupled with the opportunity to have cleaner, more reliable on-site electricity, this makes Bloom Electrons a compelling economic and environmental choice.

Transforming the energy landscape

Amongst the first Bloom Boxes to be installed were those at EBay.  The new Bloom Electrons service has generated tremendous interest with both existing and new customers. KR Sridhar, principal co-founder and CEO of Bloom Energy said “Bloom Electrons is about providing universal access to clean, reliable, affordable energy.  Empowering our customers to buy energy on their own terms is another significant step on our journey to change the way energy is generated and consumed in the world. More and more companies are making a conscious decision to embrace energy innovation and the Bloom Electrons service gives them a unique opportunity to accelerate economic and environmental impacts on a larger scale. We take immense pride in our valued customers, whose repeat business demonstrates their confidence in our business and we are thrilled to welcome our new customers.”

Financial flexibility backed by Credit Suisse

Fuel choices such as natural gas or biogas allow customers to manage their carbon footprint and the modularity of the Bloom Box enables the technology to be scaled for specific sites. Now Bloom Electrons gives customers financial flexibility as well. Customers can continue to buy Bloom Boxes as a capital purchase, or choose to sign up for the Bloom Electrons service. Bloom Energy created this program in collaboration with Credit Suisse and Silicon Valley Bank. Jerry L. Smith, managing director at Credit Suisse, said “We are very pleased to have the opportunity to partner with Bloom Energy to structure Bloom Electrons, a unique service to secure baseload electricity. Bloom Energy has developed a technology that can transform the energy landscape and we look forward to supporting Bloom throughout its growth.”

Meeting customers’ environmental and economic objectives

The immediate financial and environmental benefits of the Bloom Electrons service have generated tremendous customer interest. The 20MWs of power (200 systems) already secured is equivalent to providing clean, reliable power for 20,000 American homes 24/7/365.  Repeat customers, including the Coca-Cola Company, Staples Inc. and Walmart, are joined by several new customers, such as California Institute of Technology, Kaiser Permanente, and BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company).

Walmart already has 400 kW of Bloom Box systems in operation at two Southern California retail locations and is in the process of expanding deployments to additional stores through the Bloom Electrons service. “Walmart’s first two Bloom Energy installations are helping reduce our carbon footprint and overall impact on the environment, while providing reliable, renewable energy at competitive prices. The Bloom Electrons service will allow us to grow our use of this technology and move closer to our company-wide goal of being supplied by 100% renewable energy,” said Kim Saylors-Laster, vice president of energy, Walmart.

The Coca-Cola Company is operating 500kW of Bloom Boxes at its plant in Dinuba, CA, which has allowed the facility to generate 30% of its power needs using biogas. Through the Bloom Electrons service, Coca-Cola will be deploying Bloom Boxes at additional manufacturing facilities, as part of its ongoing commitment to operating a sustainable business.  Staples Inc is continuing to focus on environmental leadership and operating costs and, following upon the success of their first deployment of Bloom Boxes, the company will be deploying more fuel cells at additional large facilities and distribution centers through the Bloom Electrons service. “The Bloom Box installation at our Ontario CA distribution center has demonstrated that we can reduce both our environmental footprint and operational costs,” said Mark Buckley, vice president of Environmental Affairs for Staples. “Through the Bloom Electrons service we now have the flexibility to buy only the electrons and continue to achieve even greater environmental and economic success at more of our large facilities and distribution centers.”

A healthy environment

BD was seeking a clean energy solution for its BD Biosciences facility in San Jose, CA, that provided reliable energy costs and decreased dependency on the electricity grid. This project supports BD’s efforts to use onsite energy generation and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.  “As a global healthcare company, BD believes that a healthy environment is essential to human health, and we must do our part to minimize our impact on climate change. Working with Bloom Energy to install these fuel cells through the Bloom Electrons service is an important example of BD’s commitment to using innovative energy solutions in our global operations,” said Glenn Barbi, vice president, BD Office of Global Sustainability.

Kaiser Permanente aspires to provide health care services in a manner that protects and enhances the environment now and for future generations. “Kaiser Permanente recognizes that the health of the environment directly affects individual and community health,” said Kathy Gerwig, vice president and Environmental Stewardship Officer at Kaiser Permanente. “By expanding the use of clean energy through solutions like the Bloom Electrons service, Kaiser Permanente is demonstrating its commitment to greening its energy portfolio and reducing its carbon footprint.”

Service also helps non-profit organizations

Bloom Electrons is a service that opens the door to new types of customers such as non-profit organizations, educational institutions, and utilities. The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) is one of the first to benefit from the Bloom Electrons service with a 2MW installation. “Bloom Energy enables Caltech to more effectively carry out its core mission of research and education by providing cleaner, more economical and predictable power, which ultimately helps us achieve our strategic infrastructure and sustainability goals,” said Dean Currie, vice president for Business & Finance at Caltech.

Now a market reality

Bloom’s fuel cell production facility is meeting the demand of existing and new customers.  To date, Bloom Energy’s fuel cells have supplied customers with over 40 million kilowatt-hours and eliminated approximately 45 million pounds of CO2 emissions.  The Southern California Gas Company is a critical partner in completing customer projects.  “We are thrilled to partner with Bloom Energy to bring this innovative technology from a vision to a market reality,” said Michael W. Allman, President and CEO of Southern California Gas Company. “These fuel cells build on the important role natural gas plays today in delivering clean reliable energy by enabling the production of power on a continuous low emissions basis using renewable natural gas – something we hope to make central to the renewables dialogue through projects like this.” Bloom Electrons, and the 200 new systems that will initially be deployed, represent the next step on the path to deliver clean, reliable and affordable energy to everyone in the world.     www.bloomenergy.com


Life without oil!

Microcab has opened its new factory unit in Coventry, where they are building their new hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, branded the H2EV. Partners in the project include Lotus Lightweight Structures, who jointly developed the new chassis for the vehicle. The new range is available as a 4-seater car, light van or taxi and can have either a hydrogen fuel cell drive train or a pure battery EV drive, depending on the user’s requirements and their access to refuelling infrastructure.

Eight of the new vehicles with hydrogen fuel cell drive are currently being built for the Coventry and Birmingham Low Emissions Demonstrator project (CABLED).  This is part of a UK wide trial in which 300 low carbon vehicles will be made available to users and data are recorded to help understand how they are used in everyday life.  The design of the 4-seater, 3-door urban vehicles is completely new, resulting from work with Delta Motorsport, RDM Automotive and Lotus, as part of a Niche Vehicle Network-funded project. The vehicles are due to go on the road in April 2011.

Microcab employs lightweight construction techniques and fuel cell hybrid power trains with electric drive for light transport operations in urban and suburban areas. The hybrid power train architecture combines the power capability of a lithium-ion battery with the energy capability of a hydrogen fuel cell to achieve the necessary vehicle performance with ultra-low energy usage and zero emissions.

Higher temperature PEM fuel cells

Microcab is working with Serenergy A/S of Denmark, which is supplying a system module comprising their Serenus fuel cell, its control system, and power-conditioning circuitry for the hybrid battery and electric drive. Serenergy was the only European company to commercialise high temperature PEM technology which is used in its fuel cells, and which Microcab considers advantageous for its targeted automotive applications. Compared with the commonly used low temperature PEM technology, Serenus fuel cells have a higher internal temperature of 150°C or more, enabling them to operate over a wider range of environmental temperatures, and to use less pure hydrogen fuel. Furthermore, the high temperature exhaust greatly facilitates the use of otherwise wasted thermal energy for heating the vehicle interior, thus increasing overall system efficiency. Serenergy is supplying Serenus 3kW fuel cell systems for use in Microcab’s demonstration fuel cell hybrid vehicles.

Microcab and its associates will initially manufacture 8 vehicles to the new design, which will be supplied to Coventry University for participation in a 12-month trial as part of the CABLED project. These will be the only hydrogen vehicles in the UK low carbon vehicle trials, which are funded by the Technology Strategy Board.

Transport Minister previews hydrogen fleet

During a visit to a state-of-the-art hydrogen fuelling station at the University of Birmingham, Transport Minister, Mike Penning, asserted that hydrogen vehicles will be part of the future transport mix and that the UK must not focus only on battery electric vehicles. “A one size fits all approach to low carbon vehicles simply isn’t feasible. In order for the UK to decarbonise road transport, a mix of technologies, including hydrogen, has to be considered,” he stated. Mike Penning saw the Air Products Series 100 fuelling station and witnessed the fuelling of one of the University’s fleet of hydrogen powered vehicles. The Minister was also able to drive a hydrogen powered Microcab and see how the technology works in practice. After the drive, he added “I am delighted to see first-hand today Air Products and the University of Birmingham driving forward hydrogen fuel technology. It’s state of the art technology like this that will help drive the British economy in years to come.”   The Minister was also shown around the University’s research facility and given a sneak preview of the new hydrogen powered Microcab design!

Launch of third hydrogen station

Dave Wright of Coventry University cut the ribbon to launch the third hydrogen fuel cell station in the Midlands. Christina Fell, Senior Engineer at ARUP, refuelled a vehicle.   Air Products latest Series 100 hydrogen fuelling station is based at Coventry University’s TechnoCentre. The hydrogen station complements those in Birmingham and Loughborough, as part of the British Midlands ‘Hydrogen Ring’.  These fuelling facilities in the Midlands will form the heart of a planned UK hydrogen fuelling infrastructure. Air Products’ Series 100 fuelling station won the Rushlight Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Industry award in 2010.

Jim Cunningham, MP for Coventry South, attended the launch and commented: “This is yet another example of the commitment to research and development at Coventry University.   The West Midlands is known throughout the country for its innovation and high skill level and we need to ensure that we remain at the forefront of research and development by encouraging the development of low carbon infrastructure.”   Ian Williamson, European Hydrogen and Bio Energy Director at Air Products,  said, “The new facility at Coventry University strategically links three cities in the Midlands with hydrogen fuelling stations and will prove to be a vital step towards the creation of a low carbon hydrogen transport infrastructure for the UK.   For members of the public to be able to trial hydrogen cars for the first time on the Midlands’ roads is a hugely exciting development.  It demonstrates that this low carbon technology is available today and with the right fuelling infrastructure, can be used across the country.”   John Latham, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Business Development at Coventry University, added: “Coventry University’s new hydrogen fuelling station and our ongoing investment and research into low emissions related automotive technologies underlines our commitment to providing state-of-the-art expertise to help grow Britain’s low carbon economy.”

www.microcab.co.uk http://www.air-products.com