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

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

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.

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Innovation: Reconfigurable Power Electronics Print E-mail


Today the fuel cell market is primarily focused on the production of alternative energy solutions for voltage specific application requirements. Typically each fuel cell power system is designed for a specific application. The result is high costs for both manufacturers and consumers attempting to acquire such technology. This situation is analogous to purchasing software programs with each program requiring a proprietary operating system. This scenario would certainly not contribute to the global commercialization of the computer software industry. Or, alternatively consider purchasing say an Eveready battery that can only be used within a flashlight? Once again, such restrictions would not lead to wide-spread commercialization opportunities.


GEI is focused on developing the latest innovation in fuel cell based auxiliary power systems design, i.e. variable electronic power controllers to address the markets’ ever growing application requirements and which provide a standardized interface to increase the application use of each fuel cell produced. The schematic diagram (left) shows the GEI X5 smart power electronics solution which decouples the application from the fuel cell stack over a large range of application currents and voltages. As such, a single fuel cell stack can meet the varying voltage needs of different applications. For traditional systems, a different application would necessitate different hardware and expensive recurring engineering cost. Additionally, the GEI X5 provides concurrent output power for multiple applications with different voltages which operate independently.

Our GEI X5 solution provides a patented “Smart Fuel Cell Power Electronics” architecture interface allowing manufacturers and consumers the ability to dynamically assign the fuel cell power and electrical current to variable DC/AC output channels and control the power levels independently amongst the assigned channels. The output power may be configured through a CANBus or RS232 connection which implies user control through a laptop, PDA, or other wireless or internet connection.

Additionally, the GEI X5 input power source need not be a fuel cell, buy may also be another DC power source input such as wind or solar energy. Or the input may be a combination of fuel cells and other distributed generation sources.

Effectively, the GEI X5 power platform reduces engineering and manufacturing costs by providing fuel cell stack manufacturers standardized interfaces that are application independent over a wide range of voltage and power requirements. For consumers this means they now have the ability to acquire an affordable power infrastructure that meets a wide range of voltage applications for their home or business. Finally, with standardization and cost reductions, the consumer will be able to realize the benefits of clean energy, an abundance of power, and, an increased value proposition for their energy investment. The GEI X5 smart fuel cell power system, which includes a private labeled stack, blowers, pumps and other balance-of-plant components, along with GEI’s power electronics and software provide the ultimate in both power source flexibility and reliability for every application.

Our focus provides:

  1. A high degree of consumer satisfaction and flexibility,
  2. A reduced cost structure for fuel cell manufacturers and consumers,
  3. A flexible and scalable systems architecture that allows GEI to leverage a common platform for multiple applications without incurring re-engineering cost,
  4. A technology that grows the entire tier one/two global supply chain for fuel cell systems and components through high volume market applications, and therefore reducing component and system cost, and:
  5. A pathway to global commercialization to meet the emerging energy demands of developing countries.