Residential Gas Users Can Become Self-Generators
It won't be long before natural gas users will be able to
generate their own electricity at home, according to Plug Power,
which announced that it has completed the successful demonstration
of a natural gas-based proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell
system. The residential- sized system-which includes a fuel cell
stack, power conditioner and a Johnson Matthey fuel
processor-produced in excess of 4 kW of electricity this week at
the company's upstate New York development facility.
This development soon could affect the manner in which millions
of homes receive electricity. Plug Power said the operation of a
complete system on natural gas is an important step toward bringing
its residential units to market in 2001. The natural gas
breakthrough means that the more than 70 million homes that already
use natural gas for heating and cooking in the U.S. alone will
eventually be able to use natural gas-powered fuel cells to meet
all their energy needs.
By coupling the use of low-cost fuels like natural gas with the
high efficiency of fuel cell technology, it is estimated that the
cost to consumers for electricity will be as much as 20% less than
current electricity costs.
"This event represents a significant juncture in our company's
goal of advancing home fuel cell technology," said Gary Mittleman,
President & CEO. "Though Plug Power is designing systems to run
off a variety of fuels, the ability to utilize the existing natural
gas infrastructure provides an important benefit to homeowners in
our largest target markets-the United States and Europe."
The natural gas system utilizes the same design as Plug Power's
7 kW fuel cell prototype-which has operated since June of 1998 on
hydrogen and which was the first PEM fuel cell system to provide a
home's complete electricity independent from the utility grid. This
week, Plug Power integrated a Johnson Matthey HotSpotT natural gas
fuel processor into its fuel cell system. The AC electricity
generated from the fuel cell was used to power part of the
company's laboratory facility. Last month, Plug Power also operated
a methanol-based fuel cell power generation system.
"Plug Power's mission is to become the first company to make and
profitably sell one million fuel cell systems; the achievements of
the past six months play a large role in our realization of that
endeavor," Mittleman added.
According to Jack Frost, Fuel Cell Business Manager for the
British-based Johnson Matthey, "The use of fuel cells in the home
is one of the most exciting revolutions in energy generation the
world has seen. It has the potential to provide cheaper and cleaner
power where people need it most. The reduction in CO2 emissions
made possible by these systems will benefit the whole planet. We
are delighted that Johnson Matthey's expertise in fuel conversion
technology has helped Plug Power to make this demonstration
Johnson Matthey PLC is a global company with headquarters in the
United Kingdom. Its shares are traded on the London Stock Exchange
(JMAT) and it also has a Level 1 ADR program in the United States
(OTC Bulletin Board: JMPLY - news). Johnson Matthey is a world
leader in advanced materials technology, applying the latest
technical skills to add real value to precious metals and other
specialized materials. Among its principal activities are the
manufacture of specialty chemicals, catalysts and pollution control
systems, pharmaceutical compounds and the refining, fabrication and
marketing of platinum group metals. Johnson Matthey's web site
address is www.Matthey.com.
Plug Power (www.plugpower.com), based in Latham, NY, is a joint
venture between DTE Energy Company (Detroit Edison) and Mechanical
Technology Inc., an early developer of fuel cell technologies.
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