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Fuel Cell Innovator Focus on Propane System

April 9, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

Advanced fuel cell systems developer Protonex Technology has scrapped the spring launch of its methanol-fueled M250-B product into the recreational vehicle market.

The Southborough, Mass.-based group says it will concentrate resources on its propane-fueled P125-B system, which will target RV and other consumer markets, according to a news release.

Protonex says market research has indicated a strong preference toward propane for many consumer applications. The fuel is widely available, relatively inexpensive and integrated into many vehicles and locations.

It will continue to test-market the M250-B into other commercial and industrial applications, including back-up and remote power.

The company says its solid oxide (SOFC) platform has made strong technical progress in the last two quarters. Fully functional P125 units are operational, early tests have been very encouraging, and it is embarking on a final product design turn before launch.

Protonex wants to focus resources on fulfilling a recently awarded $3.3m contract from the US Department of Defense for refinement and production of its methanol-fueled M250-CX product. It says the military prefers methanol over propane for battlefield safety considerations.

The shift to the P125-B system has allowed it to reduce headcount, operating costs and cash burn by consolidating its product development efforts. As a result, the company’s annualised operating expense is expected to fall by around $2.4 million.

President and CEO Scott Pearson said, ‘Protonex is fortunate to possess a set of platforms that can operate on a wide range of fuels and provide our customers with highly-optimised solutions.

‘We are now fully committed to what we see as one of our most promising opportunities – propane-fueled SOFC power solutions for the consumer markets. We have been working toward this opportunity since purchasing Mesoscopic Devices and its SOFC technology in 2007.’

Protonex expects to begin placing beta P125-B units with customers and partners by November and is targeting a full product launch in Q1 2011, ahead of the start of the RV season.

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