Global Thermoelectric's New Fuel Cell Facility Nearing Completion
CALGARY, Nov. 17 /CNW/ - Global Thermoelectric Inc., a leading developer of solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology, announced today that all the major production equipment needed for its SOFC pilot plant, Canada's first, has been delivered and is in the process of being commissioned. "We believe that in the past year Global has developed a superior fuel cell, that the technology is going to be commercially viable and will be an early entrant in residential, light industrial and automotive markets. Now is the time to move production out of the laboratory and into a volume oriented environment," said Jim Perry, Global's President and CEO.
The most immediate impact of the plant will be to significantly enhance Global's fuel cell production capacity and support the Company's prototyping and field-testing initiatives slated to begin in 2001. "We believe that with an operational plant, we will be in a much better position to attract potential customers and partners," added Mr. Perry.
The 32,000 square foot pilot plant uses commercially available manufacturing technology adapted from the computer-chip industry. "One of the big advantages of our technology is that we can use proven production equipment that is available in the marketplace, rather than having to develop our own machines. This should translate into lower production costs and a competitive advantage for our fuel cell systems."
Global has recently been on a hiring spree. The Fuel Cell Division has doubled in size in the past six months to over 60 employees and is expected to double again in the next 8 months. The Company has succeeded in attracting highly qualified scientists and technicians experienced in solid oxide fuel cell technology from the United States, Europe and Canada. The Company will be celebrating the opening of the pilot plant in mid- December. Details regarding the event, the facility and long-term strategic impact on Global will be distributed at a later date.
Global has pioneered the development of SOFC technology. Today, in part as a result of Global's technical successes, solid oxide fuel cells are emerging as a competitive alternative to other fuel cell solutions and the inherent advantages of SOFCs are becoming more widely appreciated. The SOFC's principle advantages, namely elevated operating temperatures (600 degrees Celsius to 800 degrees Celsius) and ceramic construction, make SOFCs easier to operate with hydrocarbon fuels and more efficient and effective in capturing heat released as a by-product of electrical generation. All fuel cells operate on hydrogen, however fuel cells that do not operate at elevated temperatures and which contain platinum cannot easily or inexpensively use hydrocarbon fuels such as gasoline or natural gas. Until an alternative fuel infrastructure becomes common or other cost-effective solutions are developed,SOFCs have an excellent potential to become widely used.
At the present time Global provides fuel cell stacks to Delphi Automotive Systems, the world's largest automotive systems manufacturer and also has secured a key strategic partner in Enbridge Inc. to distribute residential andlight industrial natural gas fuelled SOFC systems in Canada. Enbridge has an extensive gas appliance sales, service and leasing business in Ontario, Canada's premier market for fuel cell applications, in addition to operating the world's longest crude oil and liquids pipeline system. Enbridge is also assisting Global with future business development initiatives, particularly inU.S. markets.
The Company expects to begin distributing fuel cell systems to niche stationary markets in late 2002. Customers needing power in remote locations, where grid power is unreliable or expensive to obtain, will likely be amongst the first users of fuel cells. These are markets where Global already has a significant presence through its thermoelectric generator business. Off-grid niche residential applications should follow in 2003 with broader market penetration likely in late 2004 or 2005. Residential customers will install Global's fuel cell systems, which will provide both electricity and usable heat, in order to reduce overall home energy costs.
Global Thermoelectric Inc. is a world leader in the development of solid oxide fuel cell technology. The Calgary-based company is also the world's largest manufacturer and distributor of thermoelectric generators for use in remote locations, and produces advanced personnel heaters for use by the defence industry. The company was founded in 1975 to commercialize thermoelectric generator technology originally developed for the Apollo Space Program. The Company is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (stock symbol: TSE).
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