Day 3 – Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Group Exhibit
Well we are now half way through the week, the day when most women
shrink a inch or two switching from heels to flats! Now is also
the time to reflect on this years additions to the Group Exhibit.
The increased exhibitor work area and private meeting rooms are
a very welcome addition and very heavily used but from my perspective
the new Technical Forum whilst a great idea needs some work. Each
year in the public forum exhibitors have a chance of a mini 20
minute interview and ok most companies use this simply to pitch
their companies but often there is a nugget of really interesting
information. This year the new technical forum allows exhibitors
to speak to for up to an hour to discuss product innovations, timelines
to production or technical advances. Great. But here the balance
between people who are really interested in the presentation and
people who just want a free drink and lunch needs to be addressed.
Guido Gummert gave an excellent overview of the development of
Baxi’s mCHP unit, after thankfully asking if anyone didn’t
speak German (something that other speakers could well do with
taking on board in an international setting such as this). Unfortunately
the presentation was right at lunch time so the area was definitely
crowded but a large section of these were normal fair goers popping
for a free meal and a chat. Not conducive to concentration! Annoyance
factor aside Guido walked through the development programme of
Gamma +, the companies 1kWe unit. One of the reasons that I find
this development interesting is that Baxi are one of the few non
Japanese firms investing in low temperature PEM units for mCHP.
Guido addressed this head one saying that the reason for using
PEM units (from Ballard) is their ability to cope with start /
stop cycles and can modulate loads. The Gamma + can modulate from
30-100% electric load, which would allow the householders to basically
turn it down if full load was not required. As with many companies
Baxi is now in a cost-down and demonstration phase. Levels of redundancy
are being targeted and so are cost efficient supply chains. The
company is part of the German Callux programme and will be testing
a number of units over the next three years with market introduction
targeted for after this period.
Plug Power is another company working on to bring to market a
product for the mCHP market but its GenSys Blue is a thermal load
following unit with a high-temperature PEM. Something of a novelty
only a year ago high-temp PEMs have seen something of a phenomenally
fast development track with market introduction of the GenSys Blue
targeted for around the same time as some of the SOFC mCHP developers.
With core markets being North America and Europe, in which Plug
is working with Vaillant, the unit would be grid tied and replace
the traditional condensing boiler. At present along with the Baxi
unit in the case of grid failure the unit would not be able to
be switched on from the off position but if running would keep
going. Talking to staff at the Plug stand there certainly appears
to be an interest in developing a grid independent option, especially
as the power needed to start up the unit is apparently only in
the region of 500 watts. At present Plug is producing units in
the low tens to get them out for real world customer testing and
is targeting 2012 – 2015 as launch date. This 2012-2015 really
is a key time for the mCHP market.
FuelCon are one of the mainstays of the fuel cell test station
market and have been working in this area for many years. The good
news this year is that due to an increase in orders they have had
to break ground on the new larger production facility. The increase
in orders is due to a number of reasons including the move of companies
to instigating real world manufacturing capabilites and needing
test station for repeat quality of the product, rather than R&D.
R&D test stations are still a core market and the company has
recently launched the C10 and C30 units aimed at universities.
Although not bespoke they have been designed with a long history
of working with universities and taking into account of the need
for a good test station at an acceptable price these units are
being targeted to fill the gap. More on FuelCon in the full write
Other companies that will be featured in the full write up are
H2Logic, WS Reformer and H-Tec.