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Fuel Cell Maker Gets $3M for RV Market Growth

March 30, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

logoAdaptive Materials Inc., the leader in manufacturing portable power through solid oxide fuel cells, was recently awarded $3 million through the Centers of Energy Excellence Program (COEE). The company will use the funding to support the commercialization of its fuel cells within the consumer leisure and RV market.

“Adaptive Materials is ready to move forward the fuel cell technology developed for soldiers in the field to provide portable power to consumers on the go,” explained Michelle Crumm, chief business officer for the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based manufacturer. “Funding from COEE provides the extra boost we need to break into the consumer market and deliver a truly game-changing technology. This market expansion will create the meaningful company growth that leads to more jobs for Michigan.”

The 250-watt fuel cell currently manufactured for leisure use by Adaptive Materials Inc.

The 250-watt fuel cell currently manufactured for leisure use by Adaptive Materials Inc.

Adaptive Materials currently manufactures two different fuel cells. A 50-watt fuel cell that delivers portable power to soldiers in the field and a 250-watt unit that powers unmanned military vehicles. The company’s 250-watt unit is the basis for its RV and consumer leisure market fuel cell; Adaptive Materials’ fuel cells can provide the auxiliary power needed for TVs, radios, laptops, microwaves and other creature comforts in an RV.

Unlike other fuel cells that run on hydrogen or other hard to source fuels, inexpensive and globally available propane, butane and LPG power all Adaptive Materials fuel cells. “By focusing our technology on readily available fuels, Adaptive Materials solved a problem associated with fuel cells: Consumers could certainly find need for a fuel cell, but no fuel to actually sustain the unit,” Crumm added.

The COEE program, administered by the Michigan Economic Development Corp., supports the development, growth and sustainability of alternative energy sectors throughout the state. Adaptive Materials was selected for the COEE program because of its collaborative work with MichiganWorks!, University of Michigan and its supply-chain infrastructure for commercialization of innovative energy technology.

The COEE program focuses on where the state has competitive advantages in areas of the workforce, intellectual property and natural resources but where funding is required to overcome technical and supply-chain hurdles that could prevent or stall the commercialization process.

For more information, visit www.adaptivematerials.com.

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Jayco Displays Fuel Cell Technology at RV Show

December 3, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Smart Fuel CellJayco Inc. and Germany-based SFC Smart Fuel Cell AG, a leading supplier of fuel cell products for mobile and off-grid power applications, this week announced the establishment of a joint research and market development alliance to study the feasibility of the utilization of fuel cell technology in North American recreation vehicles.

In the past months, Middlebury, Ind.-based Jayco has tested the company’s EFOY product series for a new lightweight, low-energy consumption series of recreational vehicles. The EFOY fuel cell series, consisting of three models with a charging capacity of 900 to 2,200 watt-hours each per day, depending on individual power requirements, ensures 24/7 power availability in any season and weather, according to a news release.

Based on the European success – with currently 48 manufacturers offering EFOY in their catalogs and over 15,000 units sold – the target of this project is to provide U.S. recreational vehicles users with lightweight, no noise and emission-free power generation for off-grid use.

The company is displaying its product at the Jayco booth at the 47th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.

“We are enthusiastic about this research and market development alliance which has the capability of providing our customers with a reliable power and zero-emission solution for their Jayco RV,” said Derald Bontrager, Jayco president and COO. “Reliable, comfortable and environmentally-friendly power supply is a significant concern for RV owners and the EFOY provides an excellent alternative: The fuel cell does not generate smell or noise, is small and lightweight, fully automatic and always available.”

“We are very proud that Jayco, largest privately held manufacturer of recreational vehicles in North America, has integrated our EFOY fuel cell in a market testing program,” says Dr. Peter Podesser, CEO of SFC Smart Fuel Cell. “We are excited about this joint project and hope that U.S. RV users will be able to enjoy comfort of the EFOY fuel cells as caravan owners all across Europe in the future.”

This is how the EFOY works:

The fuel cell is directly connected to the on-board battery. In operation the fuel cell continuously monitors the battery’s charge state. Once this drops below a predefined level, the EFOY will automatically start operation and recharge the battery. When the battery is full, it will automatically return into standby. The fuel cell produces off-grid power reliably without requiring maintenance or user intervention and is powered by the liquid fuel methanol which comes in safe 5- and 10-liter (1.3 gallons and 2.6 gallons) cartridges.

An EFOY M10 cartridge with 10-liter (2.6 gallons) fuel contains 11.1 kilowatt-hours of power. RV owners can store a lot of energy at very low weight in their vehicle. The EFOY fuel cell works extremely silently – a decisive advantage over generators which produce a lot of noise, exhausts and disturb nature. Byproducts of power generation in the EFOY fuel cell are just water steam and carbon dioxide in amounts equivalent to the breath of a child.

SFC Smart Fuel Cell AG (www.sfc.com) is market leader in fuel cell technologies for mobile and off-grid power applications serving the leisure, industrial and defense markets. As one of Germany’s technology pioneers, SFC has won numerous innovation awards. SFC has alliances with leading companies in a wide range of industries.

Unlike most other fuel cell manufacturers, who are in the research and development phase or run subsidized demonstration projects, SFC has shipped more than 15,000 fully commercial products to industrial and private end users for more than five years, and has created a convenient fuel cartridge supply infrastructure. SFC is DIN ISO 9001:2008 certified. SFC is based in Brunnthal, Germany, and has a sales and technical service office in the U.S.

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Father/Son Team Conceptualizes ‘Hybrid Dinghy Pusher’

September 15, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

The Shephards

The Shephards

While the cost of fuel has put a damper on the travel plans of many Americans, one father-son engineering duo with a passion for RV travel is combating the problem by conceptualizing an electric-hybrid passenger vehicle with the ability to improve fuel economy and increase the acceleration of the motorhome towing it, according to a release from the University of Alabama published by physorg.com.

Steve Shepard Jr., associate professor of mechanical engineering at The University of Alabama, and his father,  Steve Shepard Sr., a former faculty member and researcher at Mississippi State University, developed the idea for a hybrid dinghy pusher after the cost of fuel curtailed both families’ traveling plans.

In this concept, the dinghy consists of a hybrid SUV towed by the RV. When driven as a standard automobile, the SUV operates as a fully-functional hybrid vehicle. When towed behind a RV, the SUV switches into the hybrid dinghy pusher mode, where only the electrical portion of the hybrid-SUV is utilized. The hybrid dinghy pusher, known as an HDP, works by going into generator mode and storing energy when going downhill, and energy previously stored in the batteries is used to help push the motorhome up hill. The previously stored electrical energy in the hybrid dinghy pusher can also be used to help accelerate the motorhome more quickly from a stop or while just driving down the road.

A conventional hybrid SUV is adapted to utilize its electric system to recycle energy when being towed. The HDP’s on board motors provide propulsion during acceleration and act as electric generators during braking. The assistance provided to the motorhome by the HDP is not meant to replace the propulsion provided by the motorhome engine; it simply supplements it to improve acceleration and reduces wear on the RV engine. Unlike typical towed dinghies, motorhomes towing an HDP would experience a decrease in fuel consumption and an increase in acceleration performance.

According to the Shepards, hybrid motorhomes are just now coming onto the market, and they are expensive. Besides being a cheaper alternative to a hybrid motorhome, the greatest advantage of this new concept is that the HDP not only assists the motorhome in transit, but it also provides the motorhome owners with a hybrid vehicle to drive after arriving at their destination. Other advantages of implementing such a system are improved fuel mileage, reduced rate of wear on brake components and improved mobility for users of RVs and the dinghy.

Working with the University of Alabama’s Office for Technology Transfer, the Shepards are in the process of securing a development partner to bring this cutting-edge technology to the market. UA originally filed a U.S. provisional patent application, which has since been converted to a full utility patent application.

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