Ballard Unveils New 1kW Residential Fuel Cell

Shares surge on news of ungraded fuel-cell cogenerator and Bush Adminstration "Freedom Car" initiative.

Published: 09-Jan-2002

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Shares of Ballard Power Systems (BLD.TO) (BLDP.O) jumped on Tuesday after the company's Ebara Ballard unit unveiled an upgraded fuel-cell powered cogenerator aimed at the Japanese residential market.

The jump in the Canadian fuel-cell maker's shares also came as the U.S. government was expected on Wednesday to announce a new program with major automakers to develop hydrogen as an alternative fuel for cars and trucks.

Ebara Ballard, which has been developing the electricity and heat generators in conjunction with Tokyo Gas (9531.T), said the new 1 kw units are 40 percent smaller than earlier models and operate at higher efficiency.

On Nasdaq, Ballard shares were up more than 8 percent at $32.96 at midday. The stock has more the doubled since mid-September, when it hit a 52-week low of $14.01. It is still far short of its 52-week high of $78.93.

Ballard's shares on the Toronto Exchange were up C$3.29 at C$51.96, but still well below the 52-week high if C$118.00.

The residential cogeneration units under development in Japan are not expected to be available for commercial sale until 2004. Ballard is also developing cogeneration units in Japan with Osaka Gas (9532.T).

Ballard's fuel cells make electricity by forcing hydrogen through a proton membrane. The cells are viewed as environmentally friendly because their only emissions are water and heat -- although the equipment used to process hydrogen from fuels such as natural gas can produce pollutants.

The residential generators comprises the fuel cell, a water tank and a hydrogen reformer. Ballard said the new prototype cell's smaller size makes it feasible for use in small homes.

Ebara Ballard is co-owned by Ballard and Japanese equipment maker Ebara Corp (6361.T).

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