GEI Administration Control Panel



August 2013

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The Daily Courier, Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Fuel cells the energy source of the future

Kelowna could become the centre of a revolution in power generation if local company can capitalize on new technology

By STEVE MacNAULL
The Daily Courier

Kelowna is poised to be the fuel cell capital of Canada. "When people ask: 'Why Kelowna?' I tell them: Why not Kelowna," said Stuart Gray, vice-president of Global Energy Innovations, the company commercializing the latest in fuel cell technology units.

"We can have a fuel cell assembly plant in the Kelowna area that could become the size Western Star was."

Western Star was the truck manufacturer on Enterprise Way that used to be the city's biggest employer, with over
1,000 workers, before parent company Freightliner moved everything to Portland, Ore.

This story starts in Flint, Mich., where the head of the mechanical engineering department at Kettering University — Joel Berry — developed a new type of fuel cell that utilizes readily-available natural gas, propane or biofuel to create clean and efficient electric power.

In past, fuel cells used hydrogen and oxygen to generate energy.

However, because hydrogen isn't easily accessible, previous fuel cell technology was limited. "My goal was to create a robust technology that can be commercialized for widespread global use," Berry said on a recent visit to the Global Energy Innovations office in Kelowna.dr berry-stuart gray-dallas morin

Berry's fuel cells have been featured in stories on NBC-TV and The Wall Street Journal.

He set up Global Energy Innovations in Flint as a company separate from the university to start that
commercialization.

His invention has been tested over the last few years and is now ramping up to go into production.

The first factory will be in Flint, but with the Global Energy Innvovations office being set up in Kelowna, Gray wants to see manufacturing locally as well.

"We see the fuel cells being 70-per-cent completed in Flint and then sent up here for final assembly for Canadian distribution and sale to customers around the world," he said.

"We'll need a 30,000-square-foot factory and start with about 100 employees and build from there."

Gray is now looking for that factory location and has been in discussions with both Westbank First Nation and natural gas and electric utility FortisBC for possible partnerships.

A fuel cell is basically a black metal box with electronic circuitry inside that uses the chosen fuel (natural gas, methane propane or biofuel) to start a chemical reaction that converts the fuel to electrial power.

There are no moving parts and no combustion of fuel as there is in a furnace, generator or power plant.

A fuel cell or cells can be hooked up to a natural gas line or any other fuel supply and placed anywhere to power anything from a single family home to a whole community.

Fuel cells come in different sizes.

The two-kilowatt unit measuring four feet by four feet by three feet can be used as back-up or primary power for a single-family home.

The 100-kilowatt unit isn't that much bigger at six feet by six feet by eight feet, but packs a lot more punch and can power 10,000 to 15,000 homes, an entire apartment or office highrise, shopping centre, hospital or factory.

The 100-kilowatt units can also be stacked together to provide even more electricity for more users.gei fuel cell image

"In Canada, the market for fuel cells is companies that have drilling rigs that are currently using dirty and expensive diesel generators," said Global's Kelowna-based business development director Dallas Morin.

"They could also be used in oil and gas operations up north or in remote or Native communities that don't have cheap and reliable electricity. Internationally, the market is huge because reliable electricity is needed for everything from single-family homes to entire communities in developing parts of China, India and Africa."

Gray, the son of Kelowna Mayor Walter Gray, was most recently an alternative energy consultant and Morin has a
background in real estate investing in the U.S.

To finance Global's fuel cell commercialization, Gray has arranged for publicly traded company Suja Minerals (SJML on the over-the-counter NASDAQ bulletin board) to acquire Global Energy Innovations.

Shortly, the name of the publicly-traded company will become Global Energy Innovations (symbol: GEI).

So far, $800,000 has been raised and the goal is $15 million over the next year.

Stock is currently changing hands in the 50 to 60 cent range, but is expected to increase as the fuel cell commercialization amps up.

Check out GEIGlobal.com.

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Global Energy Innovations' (GEI) Fuel Cell Auxillary Power Unit is a one of a kind unit that is a flexible system that can be used for a broad range of applications due to its unique high temperature fuel cell stack, adaptable power electronics, and logistic fuel processor.  GEI's Smart Fuel Cell is the ultimate solution for the following applications.

Commercial Trucking

Commercial trucking APU power needs are increasing as better amenities are being added to sleeper cabins by the truck manufacturers to provide comfortable and sometimes luxurious interiors. Current APU power needs are approximately 2 to 6 kWe and are projected to go higher. Meeting this power demand through truck idling results in a significant cost estimated to be $5,700/truck/year with significant environmental emissions. Argonne National Laboratory estimates that 480,000 class 8 trucks alone generate 120 million pounds of NO, 202 million pounds of CO, and 9.6 million tons of CO2 annually; they also generate about 5.5 million pounds of particulate matter.

Current APU technologies to replace truck idling are based on diesel engine power generators, which, though better than truck idling, still possess a range of problems, including low efficiency and high noise and emissions.

We believe that fuel cell (FC)-based APU technologies are ideally suited for use in truck APUs because of their inherent benefits.

Telecommunications

Today’s telecommunications networks demand backup power solutions that provide highly reliable, cost-effective power for extended periods of time. As such the availability and reliability of backup power sources are a major concern not only in the United States, but also globally. With over 220,000 cell sites nationally and increasing cell and internet traffic, weather conditions and a fragile power infrastructure have caused blackouts across the country, and making customers and service providers look for backup power solutions that offer durability and flexibility at a reasonable cost. More recently, the realization that our power generation and distribution system may be vulnerable to interruptions due to terrorist and natural disasters has increased this need significantly. Why Traditional Solutions Won't Work  power use may not translate directly, or even easily, into stationary applications. Even on the automotive front, several key issues remain to be resolved, among them load response and the need for intelligent systems to charge and maintain the batteries. One other disadvantage may prove troublesome for wireless networks as well: lithium's high flammability. The risk of fire only adds to liability concerns and replacement costs. eight hours or less of backup power time, lower power needs, and where convenient access to hydrogen refueling is available. Six bottles of hydrogen provide eight hours of backup power for a 5 kW load. However, in situations requiring extended backup power times, higher power needs or in situations where hydrogen delivery is difficult or impossible, compressed hydrogen is a challenge. For example, 36 hydrogen cylinders are required to provide 48 hours of backup power for a 5 kW load. are required. In situations where hydrogen storage is difficult due to space and weight restrictions, liquid fuel combined with a fuel reformer is the most economical solution. Additionally, at remote installation locations such as telecommunications tower sites, hydrogen can prove to be difficult, bulky and heavy to store, and maintenance to re-supply industrial hydrogen cylinders in these remotes sites is not feasible. Reforming technologies and fuel cell products that incorporate reformers exist today that eliminate these obstacles and pave the way for even broader network applications.  According to a national U.S. survey commissioned by Emerson4, power outages resulting in downtime are common.

Military

The U.S. Army is transforming itself into a globally deployable force. The new force will need to operate with a smaller, more deployable logistics support system. Because much of the present logistics support systems exist to move fuel, improved battlefield fuel economy will help reduce logistics support requirements. These forces need new lightweight, fuel-efficient, air transportable equipment, with light, efficient logistics support systems.

 To offset the obvious reductions in armor and heavy weapons in this new force, new vehicles are being developed as part of the Future Combat Systems (FCS). The FCS is not a single vehicle or vehicle family, but rather a system of systems designed to use lighter weapons and faster vehicles more effectively to achieve the results of heavier forces. Two of the keys to this increased effectiveness are reducing the forces’ dependence on a heavy logistics support system and the development of an integrated battlefield data-sharing environment for U.S. forces, called “battlefield digitization.”

 Battlefield digitization has created new vehicle electric power demands. To be effective, digitization equipment must operate essentially all the time. A digitization suite includes items such as computers, digital radios, encryption systems, displays, identification friend-or-foe (IFF) and Global Positioning System (GPS) devices, with a combined power demand typically around one-kilowatt (kW), or 36 amps (A) on a military vehicle 28-volt system. This demand, when added to the power needed for personnel heaters, battery charging, sighting and detection equipment, often exceeds vehicle alternator capacities. The situation is made worse by the need for long waiting, or “silent watch” periods, during military operations in which a vehicle crew must minimize noise, thermal and other emissions for scouting or ambush. This effectively rules out running an engine.