NEWS is well below the target of 700°C within the Department of Energy’s ten-year Solid State Energy Conversion Alliance (SECA) program. The dramatic reduction in operating temperatures resulting from NanoDynamics’ breakthrough processing technology should allow the manufacture of more durable SOFCs from less expensive materials and produce power in a significantly shorter time from startup, according to Dr Caine Finnerty, technology director for the company’s fuel cell programs. NanoDynamics is now applying the advanced processing technology to its own compact portable fuel cell system, which it expects to introduce commercially early next year. The company also plans to demonstrate the applicability of the new technology to SOFC systems currently being developed and manufactured by other companies, since it believes this processing technology can be easily and cheaply integrated into existing SOFC manufacturing processes. Contact: NanoDynamics Inc, Buffalo, NY, USA. Tel: +1 716 853 4900, www.nanodynamics.biz
High-performance lithium nitride for hydrogen storage Material scientists at Hiroshima University in Japan have developed a new material that can store three times more hydrogen than existing alloys, according to a Kyodo News report. Professor Hironobu Fujii and Dr Takayuki Ichikawa of the Natural Science Center for Basic Research & Development have succeeded in absorbing and desorbing a large amount of hydrogen (up to 6 wt%), corresponding to almost three times higher capacity than conventional hydrogen storage alloys at temperatures lower than 200°C. The greater capacity means that hydrogen can be stored more efficiently, and lighter tanks can be used for fuel cell vehicles. It can also store hydrogen at lower temperatures, offering greater safety. The work builds on earlier research at the National University of Singapore, showing that the nitrogen-lithium compound holds great promise for hydrogen storage. The Hiroshima group ground two types of lithium powder into tiny particles inside a pressurized container holding hydrogen along with a metal catalyst. Professor Fujii said that he hopes to achieve hydrogen absorption and emission below 100°C within five years. Contact: Professor Hironobu Fujii, Natural Science Center for Basic Research & Development, Hiroshima University, Japan. Tel: +81 814 246551, Email: [email protected]
Fuel Cells Bulletin
UK plans national fuel cell applications facility A major new National Fuel Cell Applications Facility (NFCAF) will be launched in the UK in early 2004. Based at the Wilton Centre in the Tees Valley, it will have access to existing state-of-the-art laboratories and highly skilled staff from the area’s long expertise in the chemicals industry, particularly in ICI. More details of the services to be offered will be announced shortly. Exploiting fuel cell systems requires the development of a new market, a range of radically new products, and the evolution of a supply chain capable of delivering these competitively. Navigating the assault course between laboratory and market application requires shrewd collaboration in assets, technology and enterprise. The NFCAF is intended to support companies facing these challenges, and is the result of extensive discussions involving several major industrial, government and academic organizations. The Tees Valley has a nationally unique infrastructure for low carbon fuels (particularly hydrogen), embracing large-scale production, storage and distribution. A concerted effort has been made to place the region in a prominent position in the UK’s drive for sustainable energy, and several significant demonstration projects are active or imminent, including a 2 MWe cogeneration trial featuring fuel cells from a variety of developers and manufacturers. The NFCAF has been planned to align with relevant initiatives in the UK and internationally. The facility is recruiting its director and key staff (more details at: www.griffononline.com, ref: GOL 0189).
Planet Capital to commercialize PSI energy technologies, sell ECN molten carbonate patents Netherlands-based venture capitalist Planet Capital Management has concluded an agreement to commercialize energy technologies developed at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), the leading Swiss national energy research center. Planet Capital is also handling the sale of the molten carbonate fuel cell patents portfolio of the Energy Research Center of the Netherlands (ECN), following
refocusing of its Fuel Cell Research Group’s research activities on PEM and solid oxide fuel cells and fuel processing technology. PSI’s multidisciplinary energy research includes technologies for renewable energy, energy storage and energy conversion, including PEM fuel cells. Planet Capital will evaluate the energy technologies created at PSI on an initial, exclusive basis, to determine the opportunities for commercialization. The venture capital firm will then arrange for financing and assist in establishing commercial spin-offs based on PSI technology. Meanwhile, ECN has asked the venture capitalist to offer strategically active parties the opportunity to acquire ECN’s portfolio of MCFC patents built up between 1986 and 1999. The package of 13 patents covers inventions at system design, stack development and cell level. The decision of ECN management to concentrate on fuel processing, SOFCs and systems, and PEM fuel cell systems means that the portfolio is now available for an industrial research consortium to commercialize and create viable low-cost, high-efficiency systems for decentralized energy generation. Planet Capital Management was a shareholder in InDEC, the Dutch fuel cell company recently taken over by H.C. Starck, a subsidiary of Bayer. Contact: Marco Pieterse, Planet Capital Management BV, Zeist, The Netherlands. Tel: +31 30 666 8318, Email: [email protected]
, www.planetcapital.nl Or contact: Dr Philipp Dietrich, Head of Technology Transfer, Paul Scherrer Institut, Villigen PSI, Switzerland. Tel: +41 56 310 4573, Email: [email protected]
Advanced technology R&D awards from NIST Three fuel cell projects are among 16 novel technologies to be developed by the private sector with support from the Advanced Technology Program (ATP) of the National Institute of Standards & Technology, part of the US Department of Commerce. In Massachusetts, Cambridge-based TIAX – formerly Arthur D. Little’s Technology & Innovation business – has been awarded $2m towards a three-year, $4.2m project to design and demonstrate technologies for low-cost solid oxide fuel cells using novel materials for interconnect components, to increase durability and power. Once the components are designed, TIAX will construct and demonstrate a 1 kWe power generation system. Saint-Gobain Ceramics & Plastics in Northboro will be subcontracted to provide support in material property estimation and characterization.