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Fuel Cells (not the mini-micro ones).



energy central <http://www.energycentral.com/> / the news room / news
articles
Residential Power Technologies Still Need Work 
Palo Alto, California--February 24, 2000-- 
Fuel cell technology stocks are hot, but the products are not yet ready to
be marketed, according to Russ Burbank, COO of EPRIsolutions, a subsidiary
of EPRI (Electric Power Research Institute) that is working with companies
to introduce residential power systems to the public. 
 "Many of the recent stock market investors in fuel cell technology
companies have little knowledge of the technical challenges and market
barriers to commercializing these systems, says Burbank. "As a new
EPRIsolutions study confirms, it is the small internal combustion engines,
diesel engines, and propane-fueled combustion engines in the range of 3 to
20 kW that are now ready for these markets." 
Technology Assessment of Residential Power Systems for Distributed Power
Applications (TR-113897) identifies the manufacturers with the products and
resources to bring micro-generation technologies to the residential market.
The report includes a technology assessment of emerging fuel cells, small IC
engines, and Stirling engines. 
"Fuel cell technology has advanced considerably since 1966 when EPRI first
investigated the potential for residential power systems," says Dan Rastler,
EPRIsolutions' area manager for distributed resources. "EPRIsolutions' 1999
assessment, coupled with validation testing, indicates that there are
considerable technical challenges to be overcome in order to meet
residential market requirements, but we believe that these products could be
instrumental in capturing difficult niche rural service areas and even
residential mass markets." 
The new report updates and expands EPRI's 1996 assessment of fuel cells to
include internal combustion engines. This information is designed to help
energy service providers assess the impact of these new technologies on
their businesses and help them formulate a strategic business response. Two
types of fuel cell systems were found to offer the most potential for
residential scale applications. They are the proton exchange membrane (PEM)
fuel cells, which are currently a target of venture capital investment area,
and the less well-known solid oxide fuel cells. 
"PEM fuel cells are the furthest along," said Rastler. "More than eight
manufacturers plan to field test experimental 3 kW scale natural gas units
in 2000-2001. Last year, however, only one company had a unit that was
completely operational on difficult-to-reform natural gas fuel and that they
were willing to place in an independent test program." 
EPRIsolutions tested a 3 kW PEM fuel cell system from the American Fuel Cell
Corporation, a subsidiary of Dais-Analytic Corporation, and confirmed its
technical functionality. They also identified several operational issues
generic to all PEM fuel cell systems. This year, EPRIsolutions plans to test
systems from at least two other manufacturers. 
Energy companies and end-users interested in participating in the early
deployment of fuel cell power systems are encouraged to join the
EPRIsolutions collaborative initiative. For technical information, or to
obtain a copy of the report, contact: Dan Rastler (650) 855-2521 or e-mail
drastler@epri.com. 
EPRIsolutions, a subsidiary of EPRI, the collaborative science and
technology organization for the power industry, provides consulting
services, field test evaluations, and privately-sponsored initiatives to
help clients understand technology readiness and facilitate the deployment
of market-entry products. The goal of EPRIsolutions is to provide a
competitive advantage through leveraging intellectual property in emerging
technologies.